Loving you wasn’t supposed to hurt me.
Picturing what the future would be like when I was a child, I often conjured up some fantastical story about how I would meet the person I would want to spend forever with. Granted, they changed with each new year because each year brought on new feelings and emotions that I hadn’t felt prior. Though I suppose that is just what growing up is supposed to be.
It’s on our televisions we watch every day and in movies that have us in anticipation for months waiting to see. It’s in books we happen to come across and commercials that show a perfect family. We watch the American dream live on our inch-by-inch screens and imagine how it would feel to have that. Seeing that shapes us in ways our parents could have never protected us from because if they had, maybe they would have warned us about the dangers of falling without any safety measures. I mean, how were we to know that we needed a parachute in the first place? How were we to know that falling in love didn’t always mean someone would be there to catch us? Do you remember riding a rollercoaster or going down a hill in a car and that feeling of butterflies cementing in your stomach? It’s like unseen goosebumps and masked anxiety coiling in your intestines waiting to be let out. As a kid, I loved that feeling. However, I was quick to change how I viewed it when that feeling brought on many thoughts and days of not being able to eat because my stomach never settled. It was what told me being a kid was over and becoming an adult was fast approaching. I lost the innocence and ignorance that came with those butterflies. Soon, that feeling turned into a fear I could never seem to let go of.
I was worried about many things, but it never crossed my mind that a boy would play my heart like the strings of a harp. The beautiful melody hid the ill intent that lurked just around the corner. Perhaps it was written in the stars or meant to happen because it is what fate demanded, but how could that be? Being young and in love, you don’t imagine the end, because how could you start anything new when you are focused on the pain of it ending? How could a relationship be healthy if you thought it could end?
Loving someone shouldn’t hurt, should it? Loving you wasn’t supposed to hurt me, was it?
I remember being outside one day and watching my parents through the window. They didn’t know they could be seen but my father went up to my mother and just hugged her. It wasn’t anything special, there were no grand gestures or great news. It was a hug—a simple hold between two lovers who spent every day together, and still, they hugged as though they had been apart for years. My mother laid her head on my father’s chest, and they just stood there. I’m not sure why that moment stuck with me. Maybe it was because, aside from a few stolen kisses and unwanted touches that turned into simple acts to try and feel love, I had never been held like that. No one had looked at me with such contentment and adoration. When I was growing up, I wanted what my parents had. The look in my father’s eyes when my mother did something crazy like singing at the top of her lungs or dancing around the living room because she didn’t know he was watching. The blush she had said a thousand words she never could because even after almost 20 years of being together, she still had glimpses of shyness—of a schoolgirl crush. I realized then that what I was missing wasn’t falling in love, because that was the easy part. It was staying in love —it was friendship. It was growing with a person and continuously falling in love with every branch they developed and every old leaf that fell away.
I guess loving you isn’t what hurts, it’s being loved by you, because now I have found what I’ve yearned for. Suddenly, all the pain and anguish over wondering why I wasn’t loved, why I wasn’t right, why I wasn’t enough—it all just vanished. Evaporated like a toxin being cleansed from my skin.
Part of me misses the pain and the hurt because at least I had something to hold on to. If I got hurt, I could just shrug and say I was used to it, but I wasn’t. How could anyone grow used to that? Sure, the ache never left, but that didn’t mean the blinding pain that suddenly emerged never stole the very breath that was supposed to keep me alive.
No, loving you wasn’t supposed to hurt me, because it doesn’t—at least, not in a truly hurtful way. But being loved by you? That pain burns so much brighter because you gave me something to lose. You gave me hope and excitement for what is to come but also so much anxiety about what could be taken away. I guess that’s why saying I love you comes so easy but admitting I need you proves that it isn’t just me anymore—that my soul found its counterpart. My heart has always been open to the light, but my soul and spirit often hid in the shadows. But loving you, wanting you, needing you—well, that’s worth falling in love with the feeling of butterflies all over again.