I learn more about love with each complete rotation of our planet. I used to think I was unlovable and no one would or could ever love all of my imperfections.
Then I learned about love for the first time.
I was 17 and it was just like the movies with butterflies fluttering in my chest, the first kiss in my mom’s driveway, and the phone conversations that lasted for hours until my dad yelled at me to go to bed.
The first time he told me I was beautiful. Holding hands while the other got tattooed at countless tattoo conventions. Late night french toast at Dennys after dancing for hours. Sunday dinner at his parents. A dachshund puppy for Christmas. That summer in North Carolina.
There were often many miles that separated us while we both completed school but I was certain in the end we would end up together and sometimes this certainty was also a fear because as the years passed I didn’t know who I was without him.
He was my teacher for 5 years.
Then he taught me about heartbreak the August before my senior year of college. He said we needed time apart “to find ourselves” before we got married. I watched his car drive away to Texas that fall and thought I could surely never love again.
You’re not sure that you love me
But you’re not sure enough to let me go
Baby it ain’t fair you know
To just keep me hangin’ ’round
You say you don’t wanna hurt me
Don’t wanna to see my tears
So why are you still standing here
Just watching me drown
I learned about the deep aching loss of something you thought you would always have. The angry nights fighting on the phone followed by muffled sobs into a pillow. Mascara stains on all my sweatshirts. Oscillating between desperately wanting to end up together followed by the realization that I wasn’t sure that we would. Checking his myspace too often and wondering who that girl was in his profile picture. Nights spent in someone else’s bed unable to admit that I wished it was him. Jimmy Eat World’s 23 on repeat.
I cried one day in the parking lot after class listening to John Mayer and hoped that some day somewhere someone could love me again. I began to slowly see that I would be ok and I would heal. Then as the spring turned into summer my heart would finally be repaired enough to open up to someone new.
So then I learned about your second love.
How you didn’t think you could ever love someone else but then you see that you will, you just love them differently. He taught me that the butterflies will still be there and you will slowly figure out how to let someone love you when you are terrified of being broken again.
Listening to Sia the first night he slept over. Burger King on Saturdays. That photo booth the first time we went to the beach. Running side by side at my first mile race. Driving an hour and a half to get milkshakes. Kissing me at mile 16.
With my second love I learned about my own relationship patterns, that no matter who I was with I still struggled with certain feelings and situations. I found that my insecurities ran deeper than I thought. I began to understand that my fear of rejection and loss was strong enough that I would stay quiet even when I knew I should speak up.
He was my teacher for 3 years.
Then he taught me about heartbreak after our relationship had been slowly burning out for several months.
Giving each other back our house keys in Panera, my tears falling into a sandwich I didn’t want to eat. The many mornings I still half-expected his good morning text. The exquisite pain of being in the same town, rumors of a new girl that I wished my coworkers wouldn’t speak of. The awkward head nod at each other one morning at the track where I cried for 3 miles until I couldn’t see past my tears, wondering how we had become strangers in a matter of weeks. Too many nights obsessing over what she had that I didn’t.
Oh change is in the air
And you wear it all so well
I asked you if you cared
If you care I couldn’t tell
‘Cause years pass and people change
Bluer skies could turn to gray
Though it’s gonna hurt for now
Every ship must sail away
Every ship must sail away
Then on a blind date I didn’t even want to go on I met my husband and he has taught me more about love than I ever imagined.
There were things about Sean that were drastically different from the other men I had dated and I know that it is one of the many reasons we get along so well. From the beginning I knew what he wanted and dreamed of, hopes for the future that matched my own. I knew he was ready to give me all of him, and I knew that I could trust him and in return give him all of me.
Laying in bed and listening to the rain on our third date. Our road trip to Florida. The day he proposed to me and the sushi we ate in celebration. Slow dancing in the living room the day after we got married. Our nightly walks around the neighborhood talking the entire time. That cabin in Asheville.
As you begin to learn about love you find that loving someone totally and completely isn’t easy or pretty or the stuff of movies.
Loving someone is hard. It’s hard to hold someone in your heart when they’ve made you mad or hurt you and harder still to let them see you at your very very worst and believe they will stay.
It’s hard to be vulnerable and hard to be forgiving.
I’ve come to believe that the people we love can force us to face things that scare us or push our buttons. This love can ask us to step outside our comfort zones and evolve.
Sometimes the love ends and with time you will see that despite the heartbreak and the tears, this person taught you the lessons you needed to learn. These are lessons only they could teach you. They will imprint themselves on your heart and no matter how long time goes by, those lessons will echo down the long hallway of your life.
We leave a relationship wiser than who we were before. This is not to say that these lessons will be easy, that there won’t be hurt and devastation tied to the complexities of human heart. There is always the risk of loss when we love, its part of what makes it so powerful.
To love someone means giving them a piece of you and you understand when this happens that you won’t get that piece back.
There is beauty in love and there is beauty in heartbreak. Heartbreak is what makes each love a tad bit sweeter, the yin to it’s yang, the dark that proceeds the light. It is the very epitome of bittersweet, the memories of the happier days where you thought it would be forever tinged with hard ones when you found that forever wasn’t meant to be.
Sometimes love continues and you will teach each other a thousand lessons. You grow and change but you grow together, winding like vines up towards the sun. You will stand by each other during the hard trials of life and you will hold your love up when they cannot stand. They will do the same for you and when the trials fade, you will revel in the beautiful life you have built together.
I used to believe I was unlovable and I have slowly found that isn’t true. My heart has known three teachers and the last teacher my Sean has taught me that I am lovable no matter what.