It was ugly, the first time I had a panic attack in front of him.
The lamplight on the bedside table was dimmed but he could still see my face, wet and sad. It was cold in the room but we had each others’ body heat and that was all that mattered to us. He held me close and silently, wiping my face with his bare hands.
I don’t like people seeing me cry. I don’t like showing that I have been hurt or that I am hurting. I’m normally a very vulnerable, open person, but something about crying feels different. I mean, I know crying isn’t a sign of weakness but I still feel that way. It’s like if I try to peel myself out of bed, I won’t make it very far.
But that night, as ugly as it all was, he was still kind. Gentle. Understanding. I didn’t even realize how in love with him I was until that moment.
I understand it all now, how love is about those ugly moments.
Love is showing them who you are and what you look like when you’re feeling weak with the weight of trauma or feeling confused and frustrated and angry, not knowing how to let it all go. Love is not understanding an anxiety disorder and antidepressants and the heavy burden of trauma, but holding your hand through it all anyway.
Love is holding someone when they cry and using your bare hands as tissues. Love is letting the person sob, no matter how heavy or quiet. Love is not having the right words to say in those dark moments except Let it out. I’m here.
Love is something I never thought I’d have a name or a face for, but I see it now, and it’s him.