I wanted it for so long. That one constant in a life of variables. A sense of stability to hold you anchored through the roughest, often unpredictable, storms. I dreamt of being found, despite my tendency to hide, and treasured like a rare jewel, adored, and protected. Much like when I was growing up, surrounded by men who taught me I was worthy of great unconditional love. I learned to have high expectations and was shown what to look for. I dismissed everyone along the way who didn’t have elements of my father or brothers. I waited for the one who would see me as they do. I waited for the one who would peel all the layers through to the darkest depths and love all of me, complicated and flawed. I waited for the one who would hold me tight and never let me go. I thought he would sweep in on a white horse and effortlessly whisk me away. I thought to be right it had to be easy.
We had a wildly intense rocky start. He dove head in as I cautiously dipped my feet. He stood strong through the first waves, while I hurriedly sprinted out of the water. Before meeting him, I had been working hard to build my confidence. I finally felt I had control of my life, so I resisted relinquishing it. I hesitated in exposing myself to vulnerability, insecurity, and fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of betrayal. Fear of another heartbreak.
He, however, never showed fear. He never retreated when I pushed back. He persisted, confident in his pursuit and sure of his feelings. He patiently uncovered the layers, and to my surprise, continued to find beauty even in my most unattractive traits. He looks at me as if nothing else in the world matters.
Though we share similar values and cultural background, we quickly learned that our different upbringing and life experiences gave us a vastly different way to view the world and relate to others. So, often, our perceptions divide us. We interpret each other’s words, tones, and actions to mean something other than what intended. And we feel hurt, offended, frustratingly misunderstood. He stubbornly defends his ideas, his truth. But he just as stubbornly works to understand mine. He has the confidence to swallow his pride and the humility to recognize his own limitations, then move beyond them, in my direction.
He loves me in the way I always dreamt of being loved. He believes in the love we were taught to want as children but learned to refute as adults. No matter the size of his wounds, he hasn’t given up on that love. He fights for it, facing any adversity head on, prepared to sustain the deepest cuts, but never defeated by them.
He gives with all of himself. Even when he’s hurt. He forgives. And keeps on giving. He takes on burdens so that others don’t have to. And he doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t allow himself to get tired. In a world where we’re constantly being encouraged to put ourselves first, he does the opposite. Because he wants to diligently fulfill his role as father, son, friend, lover, supporting and protecting, caring, and nurturing.
My longest relationship before him lasted 1.5 years. His, 15. Accustomed to my independence, I continued making decisions as one even when I became a party of two. There is great pride in flying solo. It’s incredibly empowering to recognize that you don’t need anyone else, and quite terrifying to learn to count on someone else. But as he showed me, it is well worth the risk.
I was taught to aim high. And I did. But the quest for more fueled a persistent fear of missing out. The idea of having to make any compromises sounded too much like settling, a concept I proudly refuted for 37 years as I waited for just the right person. Yet when he stood in front of me, I almost didn’t recognize it… beautiful, rare, complicated, imperfect love.