The fear of loving and losing
Imagine you’ve found the love of your life. You’re certain of this because they make you feel like you’ve never felt before. You’re what people call a hard guy but now you’re getting butterflies in your tummy when you see this person and saying things like “he has the best smile I’ve ever seen in my life”.
This strange new feeling makes you want to stand at the top of your school’s Senate Building and scream how much you love this person, at the top of your lungs.
You get it … the love is different and strong but something happens. You drift apart, you lose that connection. But somehow they’re still a big part of your life because you remember them on random days and every relationship you have after them doesn’t seem to measure up. It always seems like something is missing but you can’t exactly tell what it is.
You’re not exactly unhappy in your new relationships but you’re not happy either. You know this because you know how it feels to have a truly happy relationship.
This might sound too specific but I’ve been reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. As a matter of fact, I just finished it and I was inspired to write this. If you haven’t read the book, it’s a story about loving, losing that love and then finding it again, if you’re lucky — at least that’s how I see it.
The main characters of the book Ifemelu and Obinze were lucky, so am I but I kind of feel bad for the millions of people around the world who aren’t as lucky; stuck in relationships that seem to be missing something.
In Americanah, Ifemelu and Obinze were high school sweethearts and then continued their relationship until they got to the university. At some point, Ifemelu left Nigeria for the US to continue her education while Obinze remained in Nigeria. As someone who hates spoilers, I’ll just say that one thing led to another and they drifted apart. You might already see how this is going.
Anyway, the next time they saw each other, years later, Obinze was already married with a kid. Which led to the most frustrating part of the story for me. A lot had happened to both of them over the years, they’ve grown, evolved but one thing didn’t change, the love they had for each other.
It was frustrating for me because Obinze was married and I am against all forms of infidelity but I found myself empathizing with their situation, excusing their affair because I can relate.
You know that scenario I asked you to imagine at the beginning of this article? That was about me. Gotcha! I call him Mr Sweetface, this love of my life — story for another day. Remember I said I was lucky? That’s because we’re still together. We got reunited in 2018 after being apart for about three years.
We’re not married yet but I have no doubt that it’ll happen because we’ve both accepted that we cannot be with other people and truly be happy.
Before we got reunited, I was in a serious relationship that I knew wouldn’t amount to anything. The poor guy I was seeing didn’t know that but I knew because… you guessed right — something was missing.
He was a great guy but I just didn’t see a future with him. After I broke things off with him, I went through a bad breakup with someone else and was single for a while. Through all these relationships, I willed myself to love these other people as much as I loved Mr Sweetface. I longed for that feeling again but it didn’t come.
Then I began to worry that I might have to settle. I wasn’t getting any younger and there’ll always be a decent guy who I can tolerate or even love knowing that he’ll never be like Mr Sweetface.
But then my friend ran into him at a restaurant in November 2018, we started talking again and got back together. It turned out that like me, something was missing with everyone he was with — yeah, those words again.
Oh did I mention that Ifemelu and Obinze got their happy ending? You might have guessed. They got to be together forever, just like I hope Mr Sweetface and I will be but imagine if our paths never crossed again or maybe when they did, we’d both be married to other people, with kids.
Would we have started an affair and then left our partners to be together like Ifemelu and Obinze? Or would we have spent the rest of our lives wondering what could have been?
I imagine the little things bringing back those memories; their favourite song, meeting someone who has the same first name, having sex with your partner and subconsciously making comparisons, meeting an old mutual friend who might harmlessly ask you when you last heard from them or it could just be the realisation that you could be living a happier life if you hadn’t lost the chance to be with the love of your life.
I know, it’s scary.
PS: Big shoutout to Ifemelu from Americanah for giving me the inspiration to write — I’m the writer who doesn’t like to write for the fun of it. I hope this is the beginning of a writing streak.
I guess this shoutout is truly for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for bringing such beautiful characters to life.
Update: Mr Sweetface and I broke up. Funny right? Read all about it here.