I pull myself out of bed, stretch, walk to the bathroom. My hair looks a little like a furry monster, and I bare my teeth in the mirror and laugh at my reflection before I grab my toothbrush. When I’m finished I turn back to my room, but I stop for a moment to study myself in the mirror again, my crazy hair and sleepy eyes.
I look exactly like the same old me. And maybe it’s strange, but a part of me thought I wouldn’t. When I imagined myself being loved by a man, going on a date or holding his hand, the image of a braver, lovelier, stronger, more self-sufficient woman burned under my eyelids.
It’s been a month now. And here I am, the same person I was before he ever said I care about you and let’s do this together. I still don’t get enough sleep at night, I still adore Tarzan and I still don’t match my socks. Somebody loving you doesn’t change that. Your relationship status doesn’t determine your confidence or your security or your strength. You do.
I don’t know what I thought would happen. I guess somewhere between hello and let’s get coffee I thought I would magically learn everything I would need to love him well. Which, let’s be honest, is one of my more naïve ideas. How can I expect to know exactly how to love him when I’m not actually in a relationship with him yet?
There is no one-size-fits-all, plug-any-man-in-and-come-out-with-happily-ever-after formula for love. Anything you thought you knew, any or strategy or lesson you thought you understood could get tossed at a moment’s notice. Just like every woman is different, every man is different. There’s nothing that works the same way for every person. Why would we want to shrink-wrap a guy into a little box? I want a man who has the space to be just as intricate and complex as I am.
I’d be lying if I said a relationship is easier than being single. It’s really not. There are so many things I’m thinking about all the time, issues I never even thought of until now. There are some things I’m really afraid of, ghosts of old fears that plagued my heart years ago that are coming out to play again. But this is a good thing, bringing them out into the light to fight them face to face.
There are loads of good and beautiful things about loving someone. He is on this journey with me. He won’t cure my loneliness, but he has willingly signed up for being a part of my life and sharing in my joys and sorrows. He’s letting me in, little by little, into his heart and dreams and passion. And the closer I get, the closer I get.
I don’t pretend to know everything, or even what some people might think is “a lot”. I’m like a little kid on Christmas morning every time I look at him, grinning like it’s the best day of my life. He’s wise and patient and unabashedly kind, and I trip over my words like I’m one of the three stooges. This journey is beautiful and messy and it’s unraveling my heart, but it’s everything I could hope for.
But I know we haven’t all been so lucky. I know you might be reading this with a heavy heart. Maybe you lost your love too soon, or he didn’t treat you right. Maybe the way you loved her fills you with regret as you look at where you’ve been. I’ve been there, and I get that. Please, please know that this isn’t the end of your story. You will love again. One day you’ll find someone that is everything you ever wanted, and you’ll wake up every morning in shock that it’s really happening. Just because it isn’t happening right now doesn’t mean it never will.
You will be loved. You already are.