The first time I said, “I love you” to her it slipped out by accident. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to say it to her; I had been waiting years to say those very words to her. She was house sitting for her neighbor, she wanted me to come over and stay with her. I parked my car up the street and snuck through the woods to not be seen, as her neighbor’s house was very much visible from her parents back porch. We spent the night talking, laughing, sitting in a hot tub, playing pool, and laying with each other. The next morning when the phone rang the screaming voice on the other end of the line, her mother, provided a warning that I had better flee from this house prior to her very intimidating father finding out and essentially killing me on the spot. As I quickly gathered my things and dashed out the door I looked at her and hesitated, gave her a kiss, turned my head in disgust at my cowardly display and snuck back through the thick New England pine trees on the way back to my car. It turns out that the police had spotted my car at the business up the road and thought it abandoned so they called looking for me at my parent’s house. Feeling it a good idea to search for me they called her parents house to see if I was in fact alive and there. When her mother answered, thank goodness it wasn’t her Dad, she immediately knew. As I got back to my apartment the phone was ringing once again, it was her. We laughed about it and spoke about what a great night it was no matter the trouble she found herself in at home. As we started saying our good-byes it came out “I love you” she took a second and said it right back to me. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Over the course of the next 18 years I said I love you to her every single day. Every single day I meant it, every single day I felt it in my stomach, in my toes, in my finger tips, when those words came out I had to restrain from shouting it as I didn’t know when the next time I would be able to say it to her would be. I never knew how much was too much so I tried hard to say it at the right times, at the random times, and right before bed. My body, one not used to affection and my ears not used to hearing these words from anyone in my life, suddenly became used to the feelings and the joy that these words brought to me. I never felt scared when I was around her, or vulnerable. I knew that I could be myself and that she would love me, for what I thought would be my forever. I never took these words for granted and bristled at those who did. I wanted so much to show her every day how I could make her happy, how I could take care of her and our family, and how she could be proud of what I do to make sure that our family is taken care of. I loved watching her from a far, when she didn’t know I was looking just to see the glimmer in her eye, to hear the laugh that drew me in, and then when she spotted me, the smile that would come across her face. I felt love for the first time in my life when I met her, I felt love the first night we were “boyfriend and girlfriend”, when we were married, but most importantly during the small moments and the difficult moments. This feeling I never thought I would be able to experience I was enveloped in. I was in love with my wife.
A hardness builds up when you have been hurt. I am sure this isn’t just a male thing or more of a human thing. I have been fighting this for the better part of two years. I have been trying to fight through the walls that are building around my proverbial heart but fear I am fighting a losing battle. I don’t want to become that person that doesn’t believe a life long love exists but I have to recognize my experience so far and I have to see the facts. For MY life, a life long love does not exist, at least it wont be a reciprocated life long love. This I have to accept, I have to live with, and I have to bear it. While I fight this feeling of becoming despondent to love, I feel like someone just in a daze when it comes to said four letter word. There is a disconnect there that I am finding difficult to plug back into. It has been two years and I think about it a lot. Have I become jaded? I pray that I haven’t (that is a lie I don’t pray). I am fighting through a forest of memories that occasionally guides me to a clearing only to see just feet in front of me another thickly settled grove of trees to push and pull my way through. I know I can love, I have done it, I can see it in memory but I also don’t know if I can do it again. I don’t know that I have the energy that it I gave, as I gave everything I had to her. I also don’t know if I am resilient enough to lose again.
These three words meant something to me. They actually meant everything to me when it came to her. Getting hurt by her puts those words in a different sort of light. Knowing that I have spoken them with all of my being AND knowing that I wasn’t the one that never stopped feeling this way, how do I use these words with another and truly feel like I mean it? Will I ever be able to say these words without being guarded? When was the first time she said “I love you” to me when she didn’t actually mean it? Did she even know it at the time? Knowing how it feels, knowing that there was a moment where she said the words I couldn’t wait to hear from her every day, and knowing the confusion and wonder that will eat away at someone, how could I ever say these words to another? I cannot fathom, at this moment in time, meeting another that I would feel as deeply for. I understand that is still the pain talking which is why I fight the feeling but it has been two years, or it will be next week, and the idea of using the words I saved for her every day makes me so uneasy. I am not one that would speak without meaning, I am not one to lie, and I worry that someone would feel that way towards me and I would hesitate just enough to hurt them. I worry that my walls wouldn’t allow them through fully or even enough for me to utter a simple, yet extremely complicated phrase. Worst of all I cannot tell if I stay away from all of this to protect someone else from getting hurt or myself. I believe it is a combination of both with the scales tipping slightly in my favor. I am the only one left to protect me.
I want to end this one a positive note. I want to say that I am working on getting past this feeling and that it is still in the cards for me. That I can in fact find another that makes me feel like the room is a better place just because she is in it, but I am unsure. Maybe I am like the dove that is only to have one mate for life and if something happens to her I would be left to the skies alone. Maybe I become one of those people who only has shallow, superficial relationships from here on out (not likely, that seems so fucking boring to me). I guess I need advice on this subject; I need to speak to people who have walked in like shoes. I know it is possible because she seemed to find it pretty easy to say those words to another, but I hardly find her advice as helpful right now (not that I have asked……not that I would). So those who have been left and those who did the leaving, how did you find the ability to say those words, to mean those words, and to say them with all of your givings to another? I would love to hear.