Love= Being Vulnerable

I’m vulnerable and I loathe it.  But I love it more.

Let me share a favorite love story with you:

I fell in love.

I felt loved back, he definitely loved me and he said so, often.  He showed me by acting like it too.  After a while I got to a point where I was wondering if we were officially a couple. (The dreaded exclusive).  I finally forced the conversation with him about what direction our relationship was headed.  He wasn’t having anything to do with a commitment!  Even worse, he told me he was still in love with someone else!!  I was mortified.  It didn’t occur to me that he could feel like that about anyone else when he made me feel like the only person in the whole world.  At the same time, I knew it.  His words confirmed what my instincts knew already.  But my heart ached.  I was literally crushed.  It was the first time that I voiced my love out loud in years.  I felt like I had failed in earning love back.

A few days later, I woke up and realized that I did something incredibly hard for most of us to do.  I took the risk to tell him everything I felt.  I was so proud of myself.  It didn’t matter anymore that he didn’t feel the exact same about me that I felt about him.  I had told him and that is ALL I can do.  I was still hurting but I respected myself for taking the leap forward in my life, for breaking through on a new skill.  I was true to myself.  I knew I couldn’t sit back and wait for others to make progress in my life anymore.  I learned that not everyone needs to like me the same way I like them.  Or love me the way I love them.  And it’s okay for me to be the one who loves more.  In the days that followed I developed true empathy.  A little for him, those are hard confrontations to converse about, but mostly for me.  I learned to be okay not being bulletproof.  I was okay with failing.  It’s going to happen over and over.  Everyday.

Today, he is one of my dearest friends.  It turns out that our love for each other was supposed to be just what it is now.  And it’s wonderful.  What was seen as devastating and heartbreaking became a lifelong friendship of the best kind.

I spent too many years of my life not telling people how I felt.  When I was released from that stage of my life, I told everyone how much I loved them.  Or sometimes how little I loved them.  I have zero shame in telling now.  It’s how I feel.  I get to own that feeling.  However, new experiences creep up on me, then shyness and fear set in, walls go up, and I have to learn to be vulnerable all over again with the new person.  It’s hard work.  I imagine when I have a relationship where I risk it ending by voicing my true feelings, it’ll always be difficult.  While it devours me in the moment to say the word “love”, it always feels better on the other side no matter what the outcome.

Is there someone out there that needs to know that you love them?  You should tell them.  Right now.  The world sometimes sees vulnerability as a weakness.  I only see it as a strength.  And while I fail at it all the time, it is exactly what makes me feel the most alive.


First Crush versus Last crush.

I remember the first time I blushed. My hands went straight to cheeks and I held them while the blood rushed in and warmed them up. Tommy Shriner had just walked into my backyard. I was four.

We spent that summer being best friends. Chasing snakes. Smelling hydrangeas. Eating popsicles. He made me blush every time I saw him. We were destined to meet. I knew this as a child. It was love at first sight. People often say you never forget your first love. I’d have to agree. Little Tommy Shriner is embedded in my head.

My siblings took to torturing me as soon as they noticed. I couldn’t hide my blushing so I stopped denying it and went all out declaring my adoration. I’d shrug when they teased and eventually I told them all that we’d end up getting married someday.  I claimed to have known him in heaven.  My sister still tells me of the lame jokes I made up with no punch line but that I had crafted his name in it and then I’d laugh hysterically.  I stumbled to speak sometimes around him and became awkwardly timid. Things that are not my natural behavior.

Apparently, not much is changed.  Not too long ago I fell again hard. I froze in place and remember holding my breath after seeing him hoping to stop time until the flushing in my cheeks went away and I cooled down again. That night I slurred my words and stumbled on invisible cracks on the floor. I laughed too loud and couldn’t make any eye contact. I never stopped being awkward for a solid two hours. I left knowing I’d never see or hear from him again.

Having awkward crushes is not cute when you’re not four years old. Meeting and dating someone new is a torture no sibling can rival. But he did call after that first date. I can not figure out why. There I was; insane and scatterbrained, not recognizing myself in this “crush” state. It deluded my judgment. It made me get lost inside my head. I learned the term “ghosting” shortly after I waited for hours for him to return text messages.  And I found myself not answering his calls even if I was doing nothing and the phone was in my hand. I switched from euphoric to feeling diseased within an instant. And then switched back again before I registered the change. It was nauseating. I had informed a few friends that he’d be trouble for me. And he was. I had to admit (at least to myself) that I had feelings. Not just good feelings, but feelings of any kind again. I had shut that kind of stuff down years ago. To stop myself from embarrassment I selected to be distant and then, of course, just run away from the whole situation. He still called. But I hesitated.

Falling for someone can be the greatest feeling. It raises all sorts of chemicals in our brain and gives a legitimate high. Love is a drug.  But like all drugs, the withdrawls can make you mental.

Bring on the mental. It’s worth the high.