You will meet him when you are 25 and when your life doesn’t make sense and it will be after you’ve spent the better part of a month clawing yourself out of a mental breakdown. He will come into your life like a tornado and you’ll get so swept up in who he is and what he looks like and the romance of all of it that you will lose yourself completely in him. His uncomplicated, easy, steady, yet passionate love will sustain you and fill in the emptiness you feel within the way caulk fills in all the holes. It will happen so fast that you won’t even realize that his love was supplanting your own love for yourself. He will love you completely and you won’t understand why.
You’ll ask him seriously, at least three times a week, “Why do you love me?” And he’ll answer through a laugh, “Because I do.” And, what he won’t realize is that you’re not joking. You’re not being cute or flirty when you ask him this. You want to know. Because you don’t understand. You don’t understand what he sees or what he feels or what he thinks when he looks at you because when you look at you, you don’t think you deserve someone to look at you so completely with such love in their eyes. He won’t realize that you want an answer, a definitive answer that will convince you, by virtue of his love, to love yourself.
You will pick fights with him, because the only thing you can control is how this relationship breaks apart. You can’t believe in his love even when he’s next to you every night and he’s saying, “I love you,” so sweetly and sincerely and he’s kissing your forehead and kissing your cheeks and he’s doing everything a person in love does, except you find reasons for his love to be false. What you never realized is that the reason people say you must love yourself before you love someone else is because it’s true. It’s because you could be encompassed by someone’s love and still feel unworthy of it. You could have someone waiting for you to love them but you will deny them because you do not think you are worthy of their love.
You will watch as they leave your apartment in the morning to go to their own apartment to change their clothes and you will pace for hours and you will stare at the computer and not get any work done, because all you can think about is whether or not they are coming back. You will convince yourself they are not coming back. Even if they have come back every single time for three months straight and been in your bed every night for three months straight and you have never gone one day without them for three months straight, you will still believe on the first day of the fourth month together that this is the last morning you will kiss their lips or see their face or feel their arms around you. You will live in fear that they will stop loving you because you can’t believe they even love you in the first place.
You will study your face in the mirror and you will replay conversations in your mind and you will try to find the thing that makes them love you. You will doubt their love so completely and so arduously that they will tire of your doubts and your jealousy. You will not blame them. You will be the first to call off the relationship. You will feel sad but also relieved each time you two break up because, at least now you don’t have to hold out some false belief that you’re worth loving.
You will find a way back to each other again. It won’t take long. But, you will see the pattern, the ways your heart plays tricks on your mind, the way your lack of worth and love for yourself spills over into every conversation, every kiss, every moment with him. And, you will tell yourself that you need to detach yourself from his love in order to see where your own love for yourself is lacking. You start to detangle your heart from his heart and you’ll do this carefully because you will still be with him, because you know now that it’s not him who’s breaking you two, it’s you. You’re the one breaking everything, because you believe you’re broken.
You will realize you are not broken. You will learn to regard yourself with love and kindness and you will believe in your own worthiness. You will start to see how much you are worth loving and that you were never not worth it, but you simply forgot to believe. You will think you are piecing yourself back together, but you will then realize you were never fractured. You will see how simple it was to realize that you are worth good things, that you are worth beautiful things, that you are worth not just the love of this man, but the love of yourself. You will realize your own love was never meant to be earned; it was only meant to be seen. And, soon, you will let yourself feel his love as completely as he had been giving it for years. You will be able to accept the love he has because you accept your own love. And, this kind of love will be so much more than what it was before, because this love isn’t a supplanted version of your own lack of love, but this love exists as its own entity. This love doesn’t have to be anything, except a simple flame that burns and burns and burns.