The hardest thing I will ever have to give up to enter religious life is something I never even had in the first place. It is a fantasy I have clung to, for reasons I don’t fully understand.
We went to high school together, I moved to the school in the 11th grade. We only had one class together and I remember when we first met I found him highly annoying. Over the semester we became friends. He’s a good guy, he’s sweet and funny and charming although he’d never believe those things if I told him that. He’s the sort of person who just lights up your day, or my day anyway. He can make me laugh when I’m upset and crying. I fell in love with him. I don’t mean that in a the sort of throwaway sense that love is used a lot nowadays. I truly loved him in a way I’ve never loved anyone else. I would have done anything for him, it was that kind of love where you’ll do anything to make that person happy.
Our relationship was always very strange. We have never been anything more than friends but that doesn’t quite cover the dynamic of our relationship. We were the sort of people who got lost in each other, when we were together we almost existed in a bubble and we forgot that there was anyone else around. Our relationship was never anything other than platonic but at the same time was anything but platonic. To put it in a rather tragic cliché, we had chemistry. But (to the best of my knowledge) he never felt about me the same way that I felt about him and it broke my heart. To love someone as much as I loved him and know that they don’t feel the same way is agonising.
We are still friends but we have never talked about that aspect of our relationship. I am sure he knows I had feelings for him though I have never known how he felt about me. It was a topic that always always broached but in this subtle, veiled way so that we almost acknowledged there was something more to our relationship but without ever actually discussing it outright. He has been a good friend to me over the years and I immensely value his friendship.
I did move on and though I cannot deny that I love him, I am not in love with him. I still care deeply about him, but the dynamic has shifted. But I always held on to a strange fantasy that one day it might work out for us. I don’t know if that is because I have never loved anyone else in the same way or just because I’m an idiot. And that is the fantasy that I know I have to give up, not even just to enter religious life but to move forward in my life. I know it must sound ridiculous. But I am getting there. It takes no small amount of realism but it is a journey. I am trying to see it as not just giving up the potential of this relationship but of any relationship because in accepting the call to religious life I know that I am denying myself that future.
And although the word ‘denial’ has negative connotations, in this sense it’s a good thing. I am denying myself a smaller pleasure so that I can have an even greater one.