I had never been loved the way he loved me. He loved me the way a man becomes a man through loving a woman--with dedication, communication, and support. He loved me the way only a Moon in Capricorn and Sun in Leo can love--with devotion, commitment, and steadiness.
I’d been "loved" before in the this-is-fun or you’re-amazing way, but not in the human, no-matter-what way. I've had the “soulmate” love that is easy and can avoid the realities of life, but never like this. The type of love where someone wants you to be fully you and who keeps showing up…day after day, no matter what. The type of love where a man is willing to do anything for the woman he loves to make her happy. Someone who is willing to do the hard work it takes to build a relationship over time. Because the things worthwhile take time, and we all know you can’t hurry love.
He taught me the beauty slowness and not rushing into something. It provided the appreciation for realizing that while moving quickly is fun, love grows and sustains itself in the slow (and probably wins more races, if love were a race). Our relationship reminded me of middle school (or maybe the 1950s, I’m not sure) when being together was synonymous with “going steady.” Truth be told, I was bored at first with the idea of secure and steady, and now it has become my heart’s greatest desire in another. It was always his steadiness I loved most, the experience of being able to rely on someone through thick and thin.
I never doubted his love or his heart–-I only doubted my own. I doubted my capacity to love him the way he loved me. He loved me in my humanness, my sadness and anger. He loved me while I jumped on my trampoline and rapped to Nicki Minaj. He loved me when I cried and fell apart. He saw me, all of me...or so he thought.
I hid the parts of myself that had doubts. I didn’t know what else to do; I’d never been loved that way before and was afraid to mess it up. I didn’t know I could speak my truth and be myself and it was safe. I didn’t know how to honor my feelings of doubt and confusion and the relationship. I didn’t understand that I could be myself--I had never been loved this way before.
We had love between us, not the butterflies or nervousness…the deep appreciation for another. A love that powerful is scary, so I hid myself and with it, my heart. I pretended everything was okay when it wasn’t.
I spoke the words “I love you” and didn’t even know what they meant, and yet the words from him were the truest I’d ever heard. Like the words someone speaks after 80 years of marriage and 17 children. Or the way someone says it right before someone dies and they slip into the great abyss of love itself.
I wanted to love him the way he loved me, but I couldn’t. Something held me back. From the outside we had an incredibly healthy loving, communicative, and evolving relationship. And that was true, but there was something so subtle inside that didn’t feel right and that I couldn’t ignore. I grew and learned so much in my relationship with him and I knew when our lessons ended. I knew I could hold on for months or even years because we had so much good between us, butI couldn’t. Maybe I gave up, maybe I chickened out.
To most (including him), breaking up with him seemed crazy. For whatever reason the momentI told him I wanted to break up, suddenly something felt right and I felt more me than before. I stopped hiding and spoke the truth even for fear he would hate me. I was me in that moment, not the girl who wanted him to love her. I became the woman who spoke her truth and in it, her love.
Maybe I’ll never know why the words came out of my mouth; I can only trust that in the moment they were the right words. I can only trust myself and the part of me that knew it was best for both of us. I can only trust my soul, the part of me that like the moon has reasons that will always remain partly hidden.
So, I’m moving on in faith that this type of love exists again in myself and with someone else, someday when I’m ready to join the race again.