I did everything “wrong”.

I broke every dating rule, ignored every bit of unspoken wisdom that the world around me spouted out as keys to a successful relationship.

I didn’t wait for him to call me, and I didn’t wait out the sacred “three day rule”. Instead I texted him almost immediately. There were times I even double and triple texted without waiting for a response. I had no chill, no patience in waiting to reply so that he would get the message loud and clear that I wasn’t hanging on his every word (because in fact, I was hanging on his every word). No sooner would I hear the tone of his incoming message than I’d be anxiously typing out a response and pressing send.

I uprooted my life and changed the course of my plans to be with him. I switched colleges and moved a few hours south so that I could be nearer to him. He didn’t ask me to—in fact we weren’t even an item at that point—but I did it anyway. My heart knew I needed to see him more often than the occasional weekend.

I never insisted that he take me on a proper date. Our time together was spent driving the backroads under a clear country sky, listening to good music and counting the stars until the moon fell down and the sun peeked it’s way back over the horizon.

I gave him an ultimatum . . . once . . . twice . . . three times, but didn’t follow through one bit when he didn’t act as quickly as I’d hoped. I didn’t stick to my guns, because all I really wanted was to stick with him.

It took him nearly a year to decide that he wanted our casual “thing” to be more, a wish I had held in my heart nearly every second since we’d met. It was an inkling I dreamed would be reciprocated, a wish I held on to in all of those excruciatingly slow-moving moments of uncertainty.

I didn’t do anything right. The dating advice of the conventional world would say that I had faltered mistakenly time and time again.

In the class of love my report card would read F-, go home, you’ve failed.

But here we are eight years later, laying side by side in our bed, in the comfort of our first home, as our sons snore peacefully from across the house and our newest masterpiece flutters away gently inside of my belly.

Some might say “we made it” and while I don’t know what our future holds, I do know that we made it here—two wedding rings, a little bit of life experience, and a whole lot of love later.

If the pre-us version of myself had come to now-me all of those years ago asking for advice, I would have told her to snap out of it. I’d have told her we’d never make it, that she was being a fool trading in her current path for a “to be determined” ticket to a life she only dreamed of. I’d have asked her why on earth she was hanging on to an indecisive, free-spirited boy who hadn’t even confirmed the way he felt for her.

I’d have told her all of those things, but thank God she understood then what I sometimes forget now: there is no rulebook in love. Thank God she’d ignore every little piece of advice I could offer her, and trust her heart instead.

Because here we are.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward