Whatever it is, whatever happened to them, whatever they’re going through, whatever haunts them and controls them and leaves them wanting more — it will have nothing and everything to do with you.
Nothing, because it probably happened before you entered their life. It was a breakup, or a trauma, or faith and trust and belief that went south somewhere.
Everything, because you will try to fix them, or help them, or wonder why you are not enough, why you cannot heal their wounds and mend their broken heart and change their mind.
You’re going to swear to yourself that you’ll never fall into this pit, and then you’ll watch as it happens. You’ll kick yourself for doing what you said you’d never do. You’ll ask yourself why you’re bothering. Why you think you’re the exception to the rule. Why you can’t just heed the warning signs.
You know, all along, that this is someone with a heart in shards, a soul in pieces, and little affection and warmth and stability to give you — you won’t blame them for it, they need all the resources they can give themselves — yet you still try.
Love works in funny ways, and we love all the things we never plan on loving. We attach ourselves to the things we think we should not love. Moths have their flames, little kids their wet cement, dogs their puddles.
We have lovers who do not — and cannot — love us back.
But you will love them, no matter how much you try not to. No matter how much you say you don’t. You’ll watch as they pull themselves further down, and sometimes drag you down too. They’re not trying to, but between keeping you at a distance and not knowing how to love you back, even if they want to, there’s a whole host of complications that bubble up when a broken person is loved by someone else.
Eventually, one of two things will happen. They let you in, bit by bit, and you learn slowly how to let them fix themselves; or you lick your wounds and move on. One is not more or less noble than the other. One hurts a little more. One is a little more rare. Both have the potential of breaking you. Both have the potential for you to learn that love is not something you force upon someone and demand they return, but something that you have to offer freely. Something that nobody’s obligated to accept. Whether or not they’re ready to take it. And if they’re not ready, then they’re not ready.
But you will fall in love with a broken person, at least once in your life. It happens to everyone. The odds are stacked against us that somebody or something will have gotten there first and wrenched somebody’s affection apart and left scars in those things we call our hearts. And the broken person you love will be hesitant and skittish and nervous, but that doesn’t mean they deserve any less love just because they’re afraid of being burned again.
All you can do is love them. All you can do is be there for them. And if you’re lucky, they will learn to love you, too.
If you’re not, and if you wind up breaking, too, well, you’re not alone. And if there’s anything love stories teach us, it’s that you can heal. You can grow. You can try again.
Because often, the broken people we find and fall in love with and help heal wind up being ourselves.