And I Can’t Help

Your arms around me,
security, not a cage.
With your sleepy sigh at my back, I smile.
I know you will wake as soon as I touch my phone.
And you will pull me closer to you,
hot skin warming my everything.

*   *   *

Our mornings and nights we spend wrapped around each other, and our days we spend roaming your city. There are a million places you want to show me, and I can hear the disappointment in your voice every time I say that I’ve been there before with my sister. You want to be my first for everything, to show me why I should love your town as much as I love my own.

The thing is, I don’t always love new surroundings. I love familiarity. So being in this town that boarders both new and familiar, with my hand firmly in yours, or your arm draped around me, it makes me love the place more than I ever did.

You cater to my every need with a playful smile and a happy heart. We hop from place to place, just enjoying each other’s company. The playful flick of my toes against your shin, your goofy grin as you hold my hand in yours on the bar top, the sweet cheek kisses as we make harmless jokes at each other’s expense. It’s the same scene at every bar, champagne bubbles caressing my lips as we remain mentally wrapped up in nothing and no one but each other.

Your love and support astounds me. You haven’t said it yet, but I can feel it. I wiped a lash off your cheek and told you to make a wish, and you looked at me before you blew it away. I asked what you wished for, and you refused to tell me. “I want this one to come true,” you smiled. And I smiled back, my eyes falling to the floor as I blushed. I feel it.

And your support… you’ve never even thought of knocking me down. And every time I say something about myself, you correct me in a loving way. You have no idea how I haven’t been snatched up by someone else before you, why others would pass on such a soul. That’s how I know it’s right. From playing video games in your messy apartment on a Friday night, to teeing it up at a driving range for the first time, you have never laughed at me for trying new things. You have always been on my side. I want you on my team forever.

At the end of the day, after we’ve made a simple dinner, had a few beers, and watched an episode of our favorite show, I’m in your bed again, head on your chest, falling asleep as you stroke my head. And with each sleepy twitch and each deep breath, I realize I’m falling more than just asleep.

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Elastic Warriors of the Universe

There’s something to be said about not being the victim anymore.

For the longest time, I knew my baggage was “my first boyfriend cheated on me, therefore I am teeming with trust issues so you should be empathetic when I’m crazy.” It’s not a fun place to be, and I thought I would be that way forever.

But something happened about a year ago, and I just stopped.

I didn’t want to be labeled as “the girl that got cheated on”, I didn’t want to carry that baggage with me into every new relationship I had. I didn’t want to be crazy about the trust issues, constantly wondering where my new boyfriend was at all times, worrying over who he was with, if he was lying to me about something. I noticed all of those tendencies slip into my second relationship. Slowly, my trust issues receded, which was such a big relief for me.

Eventually the trust issues came back full force, but that’s what happens when you date sleazy guys that are down for any attention girls throw at them (no matter how much love and attention you give them).

It took a long time to get over labeling myself as a victim. I felt I had an explanation, a justification for my overly anxious attitudes, that whoever I dated next would have to be okay with me being worried about them all the time.

One day I realized I just didn’t want to think that way anymore. I didn’t want to have to worry every minute of the day. I didn’t want to have to check up on someone all the time and then not believe him anyway because I was lied to in my first two relationships. Relationships are built on trust and friendship, and I couldn’t have a good one if I could only promise half of those characteristics.

I can’t even explain how liberating it was to finally let it go. I didn’t want to be the victim anymore. I didn’t have to keep lugging around this heavy, anxious weight all the time. Maybe it’s naive, maybe it’s resilience, but I decided I needed to trust people wholeheartedly again if I was ever going to find a relationship that gave that trust back to me.

I know I have a big heart, and sometimes that’s why I get screwed over. But I try not to let it make me bitter. I know that there is so much good in the world just waiting to be unlocked, that there is so much love being shared out there. I know that if I put love out in the universe, it will come back to me somehow. Maybe I can show others how to love, maybe someone will surprise me by showing me that I can love more.

I’m still not perfect, I still see the trust issues creep in every once in a while. But I see the progress I have made, and I’m usually pretty proud of it. I believe that one day someone will prove to me that trust is real and true, that loyalty and commitment are not too much to ask for in this modern dating world. Until then, I will be working on myself, perfecting how to breathe, let go, and let myself be vulnerable to others in the hopes that they prove their trustworthiness.

The point is, you don’t always have to be the victim. Heroes don’t have easy histories. It’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.

Enigmatic

Recently I’ve come to question if I’ve ever been in love. I have loved, I have felt loved by friends and family, but I don’t know if I have ever had a pure, deep, romantic love.

I had to think about whether or not I knew what love is. It isn’t really a checklist of items, values you look for in a significant other. I tried to figure it out on my own, but maybe I’m thinking too much. Is love just a feeling? Is it a mental effort? I’m still not sure.

I don’t want to downplay any of my past relationships. At those points in time, I felt very in love. But I’ve come to question whether it was love or an expectation of what was the next step in the relationship. So I’ve been reevaluating, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Love is trust – You can’t be an anxious mess every time one of you does something without the other. If you can’t trust the person you are with, then you need to look at whether it is because you are being jealous and overprotective or if the other person is the cause of the mistrust. But in order to be happy and healthy, there must be trust between you.
  • Love is being patient – Your significant other is going to endure the ups and downs of life regardless of whether or not you are by his/her side. To love that person is to help them carry that baggage, ease the load. If they cannot come to you for help, you are not helping each other grow as people. The best way for someone to endure their hardships is for them to have help. You can’t be that person if you’re going to be angry with them for all of their troubles.
  • Love is communication – As a comm major, I cannot stress this enough. Relationships involve a multitude of communication levels. You need to be able to talk through problems. Not only that, but you need to remind them that they mean something to you. Just by simply talking, the other person may feel important, loved, like you genuinely want them in your life. I’ve faced two long distance relationship as I go through my college years, and I’ve learned that all the little details of the day are not that important, but you miss out on so much of each others’ lives if you simply don’t put the effort into talking.
  • Love is kindness – You should not be the person solely responsible for your significant other’s happiness, but you should be a positive force in their life. I personally refuse to use derogatory names with my significant other. Words are words, but they can stick with you. I will never seriously degrade someone I should love with such hurtful language, and I will never accept someone who says such things of me. You must love yourself above your partner, because then it’s not a competition and you can be truly happy for and with one another. Your words should be positive, you should build each other up. Believe in each other.
  • Love is interest – Sharing interests seems trivial, but it’s important. Even if you don’t share these interests, it’s important to show interest in one anothers’ hobbies, of these things that make you happy, what makes your partner happy. If they feel they can’t talk with you about an important part of their lifestyle, their identity, then that discourages communication and connection.
  • Love involves effort, but it shouldn’t be an uphill battle through and through – Love can be a struggle. My first relationship lasted two years, 18 months of which were spent apart, trying to love each other from different states. It wasn’t easy by any means, and we faced our fair share of troubles, but the most important aspect is that we were both willing to work through those struggles to try and come out the other side stronger. Sadly, as we grew up we understood we were growing into different people, but it’s important to understand that life is not going to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. You will be tested, you will face your own struggles. It’s when one of you stops trying that the love quickly dissipates. (Another strange thought: it takes two to start a relationship and only one to end it)
  • Love is support – For all the reasons above, support one another. You may have different interests – be happy for their successes in those interests. Be there for them when they are discouraged, when they are fighting a hard battle. Loving is not leaving someone in their time of need. Loving is being there for them through the good and the bad.
  • Love is being two people – I struggled with this one for a while, and I think I finally have it under my belt. Sometimes you think that time apart means they don’t want to be with you, and that’s not true. It’s important for you to be your own person, be someone who complements your partner and vice versa. Maintain your friendships, those relationships with other people you love. Pursue your interests, your dreams. It’s okay to be your own person, and if you can come together as two different people that bring out the best in each other, then you have succeeded.
  • Love is laughter – As someone who has always seemed to like the brooding type, take it from me: life is too serious to be serious all the time. You need someone who is going to make you laugh, and you should be a happy, positive force in your partner’s life.
  • Love is friendship – These two kind of go hand in hand, but I can tell you I have never been so happy as when I realize my significant other is someone I would genuinely be friends with. You love who they are as a person. You know each other’s secrets, fears, hopes. You make each other laugh. You can be yourself. Someone is going to love you for being unapologetically you. And you in turn will love someone for who they are.

This list may change and grow as I get older, but who knows. Maybe it will change the next time I am shown love. I can’t predict the future.

I hope this helps someone who needs it.

Wise Beyond Her Years