Falling in love has been a deeply transformative, beautiful and admittedly scary experience for me. I’m a naturally anxious person who has a tendency to question everything and get extremely worked up over something as simple as what I’m going to have for dinner. Almost everything causes me to have an identity crisis. Throw in attachment, caring and feelings for another person and their emotions, questions about the future, changes in my day to day life and suddenly this thing, love, that I have wanted for so, so long has started to seem like something to fear. There’s the fear of losing myself by becoming so close to someone, the fear of losing him after finding out I truly cherish that closeness, the fear of my future becoming something new and different than I’d planned and so much more.
I come from a history of dating men who put themselves before me, thus causing me to constantly doubt them, question them and think the worst of them. While it is partially my fault for putting myself in those positions consistently, it doesn’t change the fact that I must have compassion and understanding for myself in that I am bruised, scraped and scarred from those experiences. I see this beautiful man in my life, who looks at me with nothing but love and kindness and I expect the worst. I question his sincerity and my own in our relationship. I wonder if it’s too good to be true and am quick to pick out the negative aspects of us. I have trouble focusing on the bliss that is so prevalent in our time together, because I am just too scared to let myself fall completely. To put it simply, loving him is not hard, but letting myself is.
I love him. That I know for sure. In therapy sessions, I have said that I always know when an emotion is truly, undeniably, palpably real when tears begin to well up as I talk about it. And when I talk about or think about how much I love him, I can feel the burning behind my eyes, the heat within my skin and the pain in the center of my throat that all screams to escape my body in the form of rolling tears. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing and it scares the living shit out of me.
I want so badly this future I see with him, but I am terrified of the realities of love—that nothing is for sure. We take a risk every day we choose to love someone, because nothing holds two people together other than their feelings for one another and the choice they make each and every day to be together. It’s scary to think of love being so fragile. How—in a time where divorce is commonplace and single, independent women and men live their lives happily, having full families and adventures all without a partner—can one fight the feeling that this love thing is all doomed?
New love is always looked at by old, jaded love with the thought, “Oh, yeah. It’s all so great in the beginning. Just wait.” We see in our media and personal lives that love ends after weeks, months, years and even decades. And when it does, the world just shrugs its shoulders and says, “That’s how love goes sometimes.” Couples who’ve been together their entire lives are praised, because despite what we’d like to believe, they are the minority. No matter how safe I feel in the arms of my love or how transcendent the tingle throughout my body is when he kisses me, I am very caught up in my analytical mind that says this could all go away. How can I shake the overwhelming evidence in our human experience that this is all temporary and believe that we are the exception?
A very dear person in my life read me a letter she wrote to her husband many years ago, in which she beautifully and painfully put into words her feelings toward a very difficult patch in their relationship. She lamented that she missed the days where they would lie on the hood of his car with a bottle of wine and look at the stars. She closed the letter with, “I want my husband, and the love we once had back.” They’ve been together 43 years now. And as she read me this letter from decades ago I welled up with tears, both for the pain she had experienced and for the joy within myself I felt from her reassurance that in love you can, at times, feel like it’s on the brink of disaster and still come back from it, even stronger and more connected than before. After she read the letter completely, she said, “You know… we’ve had our troubles, but he’s such a good man. And I love him so much.” Forty-three years. Years filled with beauty and magic and yes, pain.
Love is hard. I’m beginning to see that. Even in my new, young relationship I can see that the push and pull of emotions with another person can be taxing and worrying and troubling. I can see that there are a million things that can go wrong and there are days where loving someone seems harder than not loving them. But for those moments spent looking at the stars, it is worth it. I can’t say my relationship will last forever, no one can. But I can say I am willing to fight for it, despite the odds that seem overwhelmingly against any love. All he and I can do is be honest with one another, cherish each other, communicate as effectively as we can, have compassion for ourselves and each other, and hope beyond all measure that we are one of the lucky ones.