The day I realized I was in love with Austin I sobbed. Stirring in a mix of confusion and anxiety, I sat on my bedroom floor with tears streaming down my face. I had never felt like that before and those new emotions felt like an attack. I knew if I said the words first he would not say he loved me back. That would be retribution for the souls that said they loved me before.
Two years prior, I resigned myself to being perpetually single; love was not for me and I was not hunting for it. Why, now, was my heart playing this insidious game? It knows I do not handle change well and new emotions are a no-go.
It’s funny when I look back, I can still feel the tug-of-war within myself.
We always seemed to be having fun and laughing, but I had a lingering voice it the back of my head. To me, he was funny, charming, and smart, I did not think I had much of a personality or was that enjoyable to be around. In an effort to protect myself, I was pushing him away. He was constantly fighting for my thoughts and attention, always wanting to know about my point of view. I would meet his pleading eyes with silence or shrugs. When it came to showing affection, I would swat his hand away when he tried to hold mine. I could see the rejection on his face, who would willingly participate in weeks of that? Surprisingly, he never stopped trying to be around me.
Simultaneously, I had hopeful thoughts that I kept pushing to the side. I could see us spending more time together, one day we would take a cooking class or perhaps go to the beach. I don’t know why I would not allow myself to bask in the pleasantries. It took me a long time to clear the relationship roadblocks I had set up.
We had been dating for four months when the feelings started to invade; I had not realized the time elapsed. During those months, we had several new experiences: museum visits, road trips, concerts, and hikes. Activities I did not think I would want to do with someone else. When it was happening, I was in the moment and it was only us. On the days we were not having fun, we were having in-depth conversations and learning about our insecurities. All the evidence was there, the ingredients for a happy relationship; I was in denial. I was an outlier and everything was going to unravel. It never did.
Nine years later, I still ask “why do you like me?” or “why aren’t you over me yet?”. It’s been 3,285 days and we have never missed a day talking to each other. He makes me laugh and he also makes me want to punch him in the throat. He is my partner in life and love; I can’t see myself with anyone else.