My first initial knowledge of what love looked like came from books and Disney movies. Each story was different, yet the same. When the woman was in trouble, the man came to her rescue, they fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever after. Several years (and several frogs) later, I realize those childhood fairytales weren’t for me. They didn’t show the hardships that I’d really face in my adulthood and future love life.
The books didn’t tell me that the best thing for me was to fall in love with myself first, or that I’d end up being my own knight in shining armor. You see, I have an anxiety disorder, and the stories didn’t tell me that only I can save myself from that.
I didn’t know that loving someone when you have anxiety was different, and that even the most kind, supportive partner couldn’t rescue me. I didn’t know that because I have anxiety, the way I love someone, and the way someone loves me looks different. You see, this love doesn’t look like the romantic stuff you typically see in movies and novels.
This love is raw. This love is challenging. This love is about caring more for your partner than yourself. This love is taking on the other person’s storms and bad weather and riding it out with them. This love is picking up the slack when your partner is burnt out. And getting rid of gender roles, because everyone needs to be taken care of, sometimes.
This love is blown-up disagreements that lead to a deep conversation and a heartfelt apology. This love is passionate, and intense. This love is ours . . . at 3 a.m., sitting quietly together on the bathroom floor because that’s my safe space when my thoughts are racing. This love is his late-night chocolate run because that makes it better, or at least makes me smile. This love looks like him wrapped in a blanket on the front porch, because I needed air . . . even though it was a below freezing December morning. It looks like sleepless nights, when my insomnia becomes his. It looks like bear hugs, and finally feeling safe enough to let someone see me cry.
This love is us, and I’m OK with that. Because even though I’m not your typical damsel in distress and the prince can’t save me, I’m still worth it. And our love is worth it.
I don’t care that this love doesn’t look like the movies, or that it doesn’t involve a prince slaying a dragon for me, because instead, it’s a patient, open-minded man, whose job isn’t to save the princess, but to hold her hand while she saves herself.
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