• Ariana Quiñones

Love and Let You Go

No one told me

that friends can break your heart.

That there will be people

you dream about

growing up with forever.

Who can take your trust and leave you

as quickly as they came into your life.

That beyond the playground,

the way people learn to love will always

affect the way they're able to love.

Not that I was always ready to love them.

To my friends lost,

I wanted to say that I love you.

Even the ones I'd probably square up with,

if given the chance.

I still love you,

but I know now,

that I can love you and not need you.

I can love you and not want you here.

I can love you and let you go.


To Friends Lost & Found,

I've been writing these words over and over, realizing that I've been holding onto you. There are many I've forgotten, like a passing phase or a sudden breeze. And there are those who for a brief period in time were my true and real confidantes, my safety, a place where I thought trust and care would always come first. In all of my self-reflection, I've started to trace all the connections in my life, to look more closely, to observe my younger self with the understanding that I have always been desperate for love. And I have often sought that love from people who could never fully give it. From people who I eventually find myself drifting away from, sending unspoken words into the air, wondering if maybe some day it'll be like the movies. You'll run into each other, you'll have a drink or a coffee, you'll laugh and wonder why it ended.

Until you do remember.

I realize now that so many of my connections didn't last or didn't actually feed my soul, because I've never known how to set good boundaries. I thought that love meant all giving all the time. I thought it meant pain and doubt and uncertainty. I thought that pain was a necessary part of love. But I also realize that part of why we drifted apart was also because of my own stubbornness. My younger selves inability to get my head out of some toxic person's ass to see the bigger picture. To see that there were people who loved me not because of who I could be but because of exactly who I was. Why did it take me so fucking long to see that? Why am I still so obsessed with seeking out attention from people who could not give a single shit if I stay or go?

I ask myself, do I really miss all of you? Or do I just miss the idea? Or the attachment? Looking around now, I see my long lasting friendships. The ones that grew through conflict and compassion. The ones that saw me from teenager to mostly functional adult. The ones that made space for all my tears and my "why does this always happen to me!!" and ups and downs and deprecating humor. The ones who never let me believe that my light would stop shining, the ones who always picked up the phone or circled back after months as if we had just finished talking yesterday. The ones who apologized and let me do the same.

It's because of them that I know I'm not unlovable. It's because of them that I've learned to love myself more, truly fucking love myself. Not for the sake of anyone else. But quite simply so that when I look in the mirror, I truly adore the person staring back at me. I know now that I can't expect others to love me perfectly, but I can expect the to love me with the intention of wanting to see me at my best and not running away when they see me at my worst. I know now that loving me means not making me feel like I'm too much or overbearing or too loving.

If you remember one thing about me, aside from my self-doubt, you hopefully remember my optimism. Some of it used to annoy many of you and I saw it as a personal reflection on myself. I thought my ability and constant determination to hope was a bad thing, as if I was too naive. But it took me a long time to realize, your resentment was more about you than it was about me. And I'm grateful that for a brief moment our lights danced together and grew. But know that no matter how hard you try, my light, will never go out. Not only because of my strength, but because of the strength of the ones who love me. The ones who not only know how to love me, but care enough to continuously figure it out.

I hope all the dreams you shared with me come true. I hope the things you wanted for yourself, come to life. I hope with all of my hope, that you feel loved, know love and fall in love with yourself in the same way I did during all the years that have passed.

Wishing you love, gentleness and the deep warmth and care of accountability.

All Love,


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