Trying to master the virtue of patience.

We decide to trust the process one more time — and always one more time. We try and we wait. We give and we break. We put ourselves back together, and we try some more. Finally, love comes as it always does. It then leaves, as it always seems. And we are left waiting, again, for its possible return.

We wish for something real and someone true. Slowly, confidence fades that such a circumstance and person will find us. Optimism dwindles though we fight to believe. It’s a natural response to disappointment. There’s only so many “next times” to hold on to before increasing doubt and a loosening grip start to chip away at our hope.

Yet, we are carried by our most profound and least understood emotion. Though it continuously eludes us, we trust that love is worth the wait. Love is worth it all. What else can we do? It’s like waiting for the sun to rise, except some mornings it doesn’t.

Some days we wander in darkness. We find ourselves struggling with bitterness and resentment, or embracing them both. Just depends on where we are in our healing. Every room feels cold and empty, as do we. While stumbling around in search of the light, we fall and hurt our already fragile hearts. The pain is almost intolerable but we manage. It feels like we might die, but we survive. We live to love another day.

Fear renders us immobile. Did we choose incorrectly? What if we missed our opportunity? We shudder to wonder if we perhaps got it all wrong, and now it’s too late. In seeking a place to lay the blame, we land on ourselves. We’re afraid that love may actually look at us, only to see someone unworthy and ill-prepared. Next comes the hiding.

Confirmation of our suspicions that we may be unlovable would be far too heavy a revelation to carry. So, we intentionally avoid intimacy and vulnerability in the name of self-preservation. We alternate between this state and one suggesting that we are, in fact, deserving of love, but incapable of offering it in return. Damaged goods, we self-label to spare outsiders the trouble. We know that we have much to offer, but fear that we’ve been abused to the point of ruin. We can never completely give ourselves to another human being again. We hold back in the name of protection, convinced that we’re saving others from ourselves. They don’t deserve the mess that we will inevitably make of them, and we don’t want to be stuck cleaning it up.

Oh, and the tiredness. We have yet to even mention how the waiting has worn us down. We’re weary of the dating “game,” of trying to figure people out, being led astray and starting over. Spirits are broken. It feels as though we’ve been running in place, and now our legs are weak. They may just completely collapse beneath the weight. The cycle of mourning and revival takes tremendous energy. We pour until and even when our cups are empty, and are refilled a little less each time. Despite this, somehow the recovery phase is lengthened.

The longer love waits, the more we question, fear, doubt, agonize, self-loathe and grow anxious. Skepticism lingers. We get set in our ways and reinforce walls while concurrently hoping someone will care enough to climb. We understand that we don’t understand love. We don’t know why it won’t choose us as we’ve always chosen it. Or, at least we’d like to opt in its favor if given the chance.

We never know how it will end, if it will end. Although, the law of averages says that a resolution is imminent. Love is always on time. It’s just difficult to see past the idle anticipation in between.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.”

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