It’s a quaint old-timey expression; that person in your past whom you thought you would be with “forever,” but then a confluence of circumstances conspired to keep you apart, and now here you are alone, or with a real-life partner, but still pining over that “one.” This idea has always made me think of having people tied up in your basement and then there was that “one that got away.” Oh, if only the restraints had been more secure they wouldn’t have “gotten away,” to go on and live their lives without you. If only you had tied the rope tighter, they might have stayed and understood how perfect you were for each other. Why or why didn’t you pay more attention in Scouts when they were teaching all those knots?
Having a relationship is not a hostage situation, though I was confused by this concept for a while. You cannot make someone stay with you, nor can they make you stay with them. You cannot cling to someone out of fear, or push them away out of anger, or obsess about them out of lust. You can fuck them in a box, or you can fuck them with a fox, but you cannot force an outcome when it comes to love. True love happens in a centered place, it is considered and considerate, and while it is motivated by emotions, it cannot be overrun by them. And this is coming from someone who has been told by more than one person that I am literally the most emotional person they have ever met, so if I can contain that shit, you certainly can.
I don’t believe in “The One That Got Away” because soul mates cannot be kept apart, just as you will have everything that is meant for you, whether it be a job, an apartment, or someone who doesn’t annoy you when they eat. I was married to a soul mate, together for almost a decade and a half, and during that time, nothing could have kept us apart. Then gradually, at first far away in the distance, I started to hear a call of a new soul mate, someone who was going to make me grow more, love better, be better, to teach my soul to have its full expression in this lifetime. When the time came for my ex-husband and I to separate, nothing would have brought us back together, and on days when I am so scared that no one will ever love me that way again, I have to remind myself that my ex-husband didn’t “Get Away,” I Let Him Go, which is all you can ever do for anyone.
Dating is all about that fishing concept of “catch and release,” you just keep tossing them back and letting them swim along the current they are supposed to be on. And until you find someone who can swim alongside you, neither impeding you by leaving you in their wake, nor by nipping at your tail, you’ve got to be your own next soul mate. The number of old stories I have released is staggering, and chief among them is that my self-worth is in any way predicated on what someone else thinks, or feels for me. So for now I swim alone, but really it is more like floating, because life will take you where she will, and all you can do is hold on tight to your own fins and hope to fuck you don’t eat the wrong lure and end up as nothing more than someone else’s dinner.