This post has been rolling around inside me as a collection of feelings and phrases that intersect and diverge and fill me with both longing and abundance.
I am in love.
This isn’t news. I’ve been in love with the father of my children, I’ve been in love with my heart-broken self. I’ve been in love with my tribe of incredible friends and family. But now, I’m in love with a beautiful soul who I feel compelled to tell you about.
Our paths had crossed multiple times over the past three years, but we were very much on the periphery of each other’s lives. Then, I found myself meeting him on a wooded path on a balmy June evening because he wanted to show me fireflies. I’m not in the habit of meeting strange men in the woods, but we have mutual friends who vouched for him. I’m so grateful that I showed up.
The woods came alive with a million points of light and he kissed me on the middle of the path. It was a slow burn. He’s very different than what I’m used to. His confidence is quiet. His energy is youthful and sincere. The passion and enthusiasm he brings to the world is genuine, and there are so many things that he is passionate about.
He held my hand, though he barely knew me, when my high-risk annual screening resulted in a biopsy this summer. Then he took me to a quarry and we splashed and floated and I decided that I needed to feel every moment in every cell in my body because maybe I was sick, and that would be the next thing to face on this journey. The feeling that every moment is a gift has continued long after my clean bill of health.
He felt like a safe space from the moment I met him. I’ve learned things about sex and safety that I couldn’t articulate before now. Without that safety, I could never have the soul connection that I’ve craved. There would always be limits to how much I could explore. To how much I could feel.
I’ve peeled away layers of myself before him, with only the smallest worry that perhaps I’ll be too much. He’s watched me heal, and break, and scab and heal again. There’s no pressure to hurry up and feel okay. There’s a quiet hand and a steady gaze. There’s the constant reassurance that if I need more time, he’ll be waiting.
He’s seen my most raw places and has met them with love and empathy. He doesn’t make me want to be a better person, he helps me see that the person I am is of tremendous value and worth. That I deserve love and that I am full of beauty and goodness. He makes me want to continue to thrive.
I’ve said that I won’t love again unless the object of my love can hold space for my children. This man is playful and patient with my kids. He wants to know them, and share the things he loves with them. My son adores him, and when I ask him why, he says “Because he is very kind, and he is very good to you.”
I’m not a fool. I haven’t ‘fallen’ into this. If you know me, you know how I examine all of these emotions of mine from every angle. How I’m ruthless now when it comes to the truth of a feeling. I’ve been concerned about the timeline. I’d imagined my heart alone for a long while after this breakup. I know it is important to feel strong on my own, and find my footing again.
This has been a steady and careful walk into love. Perhaps I wouldn’t have chosen this moment, but I’d be a fool to walk away from this kind and beautiful human. He loves his independence as much as I do, so there is space that remains, just for me, between time with my children, and time in his arms. My healing work continues, and there are moments where the past spills into the present, and it’s okay because I can name those moments, and own them.
In my quest to define love, I know what it will not be. It will not contain words like ‘always’. It will not be melding with another person until it is ‘us’ more frequently than it is ‘you’ or ‘me’. It will not restrict, confine, or limit. It will be informed and ignited by a daily choice to listen to what is true and real in my heart and in my gut.
We’ve decided that monogamy is on ongoing exploration in our relationship. Instead of pledging to be each other’s one and only, we are pledging transparency and a commitment to understanding our own sexuality as we build space together.
He is not threatened by me. He celebrates the way I approach the world, and love, and relationship. He sees me, and celebrates me. He has no desire to claim me, fix me, or save me.
In those moments when I am afraid, where I throw the future at him like a road block, he doesn’t make wild promises. There’s no ‘forever’. There’s no ‘absolute’. His answer is always ‘we’ll figure it out.’ I’ve realized this is the only answer, whether it is ‘we’ or ‘me’.
So, you can see how easy it’s been to find this love. To feel it wholly, amidst the landscape of a thousand other swirling emotions. To enjoy watching it unfold, without the expectation that it will last a lifetime. It is for right this moment, the sweet here and now, which I have learned is the only time we truly have. The past is gone, the future is impossible to see, and right at this exact minute, I am in love.