It has been four years since I have muttered those three little words to anyone. I had thought about the moment when I would experience the euphoria of falling in love again—the fluttering heart, the excitement, the nerves, the tingling—but I didn’t ever imagine that cynical, closed off old me would be feeling that way so soon. It was only three weeks in, and as my mind protested at the outrageousness of such a possibility, I started to question whether this was the beginnings of love that I was feeling or I was confusing the concept of love with the raging hormones coursing through my system.
It seemed as if this relationship was in a rapid race, going from one level of intensity to the next, wasting absolutely no time at all. I was so wrapped up in the process of unraveling the love story unfolding before me, that it felt as if my face was planted firmly in a pile of cocaine, just riding the magic carpet of the dopamine and oxytocin high. For the first time in years, I felt myself start to release, completely surrendering myself to the hands of another person as I tried to rid my mind of the fears of being hurt and rejected.
I think that I had silently muttered those three little words to myself countless times within those three weeks—I would find myself looking over at him, and within those moments I could feel the heat rise within my body. I could feel the sense of tightening within my chest, and all that I could translate the feeling to was the visualization that my heart was glowing. I would say those words silently to myself in those moments, completely aware of the absurdity of feeling in love within such a short period of time. I tried to talk myself out of it, and I tried to convince myself that this wasn’t love, that it was infatuation, because how on Earth could you love someone that you are still getting to know? I tried my absolute best not to let those three little words slip out of my mouth; I tried with everything in me to keep that insane feeling to myself. I didn’t want to believe that it was real, and despite the truth that I felt so deeply, it contradicted everything that I knew logically, which told me that it was too soon to possibly be real.
We had skirted around the concept of love multiple times, both of us testing the waters and feeling each other out, too afraid to be the first one to profess our true feelings as the risk of rejection and unrequited love hung heavily above us like an unwanted reminder. Although I knew that I loved him, and although I had been silently proclaiming my love over and over again in my head, I felt as if I needed to hear him say those three little words first—I felt as if I needed that as my security blanket in order for me to allow myself to drop the barriers that I had built up so high, allowing myself to become completely vulnerable, pushing all fear and doubt to a place of nonexistence.
But love had a different plan. It burned inside of me, and the more I tried to suppress it, the brighter it burned. It pushed me, and it tested me, and it wanted nothing more than to be proclaimed. It became more and more difficult to resist to the point that the words burst out of my mouth. The proclamation caught him off guard as much as it caught me off guard, my heart pounding in my chest as we sat for what felt like an eternity with the words still lingering in the air. His green eyes were locked on mine, and I watched the look of shock evaporate from his face as it was slowly replaced by the most magnificent smile. I felt my body warm up with an explosion that can only be described as fireworks as his words echoed mine. “I love you too.”
So, when is it the right time to feel love, to express love and to accept love? I used to live bound by some unspoken law that stated that there needed to be an extensive amount of time that had passed and that all the stars would be perfectly aligned in order for it to be real and in order for it to be acceptable to be expressed. But love exists by no law, and there is no such thing as the right time to feel love and to express love – love has no boundaries, no timelines, and no rules. Love is unique to every situation. It consumes our entire being and it shakes us to the core, because the gravity of love is more than any of us could ever fully comprehend. Love pushes us to our deepest level of vulnerability. It requires us to drop all our walls and to submit—it pushes us to the point of no return, because once you’re in, you will never be the same again, no matter which way the journey goes. There is no control when it comes to love, and this is the reason why we question and suppress it, why we enforce imaginary rules and timelines and why we surround the beauty of love with a state of fear.
Receiving and giving love is the greatest gift that we have been given in this life, and no matter where love has led us before or where it may still lead us, we have never been worse off because of love. If the current state of the world teaches us anything, it is that we need to grasp every fragment of love that we can find more fiercely than ever.