I don’t remember who I was before I fell in love with a man.
That isn’t to say that there had never been a me who hadn’t loved a man, because surely I had felt things towards men that I simply confused for love. And I was certainly a 3 year old and a 4 year old and a 5 year old who cared more about ice cream sandwiches and watching figure skating than anything else in the world, but that is to say that I don’t remember those moments fully.
When I look back at my younger self in elementary school, the one who wore braids and barrettes and pink layered skorts with Skechers, I remember the first boy that I was in love with. We’ll call him B. I had a crush on B from the moment I first saw him at recess in 2007 and I loved him until the fall of 2012.
In 2012 I fell in love with V. He changed my life. He showed me what it meant to love someone with my entire underdeveloped soul. He was my first true love and heartbreak. And he was a complete bag of garbage. This time of my life was when I learned the word “unrequited”. It’s when I first realized that men could want your body, your company, and even the words straight from your throat but never actually want you. I stopped loving him in 2018.
And in 2018 there was J. And nothing has been the same since.
Here we ignore all the little men, the ones who I only half loved in between phases of my life. All this love, each one more beautiful and glamorous than the next, it takes its toll. Maybe you would think that after loving so hard once, you love a little easier the next time. But that’s not true. It’s like your heart takes the first beating and it only gets stronger after that.
I used to think the problem was falling in love in the first place. But it was never the falling. It was always the losing. Losing parts of myself within someone else. Losing in love. Trusting strangers to carry the heavy parts of me that even I found too weighty to lift most days.
I’m hoping to find those pieces of myself again and put them back. I want to feel all of that love in my soul again. Every stomach swoop and stolen glance and nail biting, cheek numbing smile on my face, it was an expression of my joy. This time I want to feel that for myself.