my heart says I love him

Listen, dear heart: it’s pep talk time. Not because I know everything about all this, not because you can’t do without my opinions, but because you inspired it yourself. Because you’re too humble to see you sometimes. And because we both somewhat secretly enjoy dramatic things like pep talks.

And because my phone died and I can’t respond to your last text –

my heart says I love him too. But it also says this is scary and huge and bad things can happen to people in love and scary. It’s a very vulnerable feeling.

But you must know how brave you are just to say such a thing, even to me. Of course it’s scary; you knew it would be scary. And I’m watching you test the ice, but I know you’re not turning around. You’re determined to run headlong across that river; and yes, you should be scared – there’s a swift and brutal current running inches beneath your feet.

The last thing I’m here to do is promise you that happily ever after is an easy guarantee. Yours might be a happily-for-several-months. Some people even live sadly-ever-afters. And I know you know all this, but I have to say it for me, because all I want is to be able to promise you – to promise us – no regrets. I want to be able to list all the reasons we’ve made good bets, like insurance adjusters or roller-coaster-designers who build in double and triple redundancies.

But there are no redundancies in love. Just our hearts propelling us forward before our feet know how to argue, forward across that thin sheet of ice.

If you were here, the first thing I’d do is take your shoulders and tell you this: I am here on the banks, with a blanket and hot coffee and that creamer you like, waiting for you. If the ice will break, I can’t change that. Sometimes the temperature just rises around you and there was never anything to be done about it. But even if you fall through, even if you slip under into the cold and dark, the river keeps running and you’ll climb back out down the line. Even if you come up gasping, undone, with barely a clue of where you are or how you got there – I will be there the second your foot slips. I will be there. I will point you home.

But I’m not going to project any more catastrophes onto your life, either; you’re not a silly girl. You’re one of the wisest women I know, and you’re not throwing yourself at already-splintering ice, hoping for a miracle. You may very well never need my blanket and my pointing; you may very well be headed already toward a new home. Isn’t that what we mean with every step closer in a relationship? Perhaps, someday, we might be home for one another. And that, in itself, is truly scary, moving away from somewhere else – but anyway it’s just a perhaps. A fluttering, hopeful, wide-eyed perhaps; a brief, bright time you won’t forget.

So I am happy, so happy to hear that your heart says you love him, too. We both remember a time we couldn’t hear our hearts over the howling wind of doubts, logical arguments, and self-neglect for others’ sake. That your heart has the space to shout such marvelous, terrifying things – that in itself gives me joy, and challenges me to hear what my own heart has to insist.

And the fact that you’re scared, love? That makes me more thrilled and proud and hopeful than just about anything. That’s the very thing that gives your love a fighting chance. Do you see it, too? Let me tell you what that says to me – it tells me that you are no half-assed lover. That this has nothing to do with boredom or pressure to conform, that your love will not be a tame or shallow thing. You’re not about to throw the word “love” around like you’re passing out extra party favors. Your love is strong and fierce and not easily undone, a force that won’t just quit because someone else happened to. You love almost from somewhere outside yourself – when you don’t know where God is? Everyone else knows. Whether you feel it or not, we can see it.

You don’t say “love” by accident, because you know that real, worth-saying love will pummel you near to pieces just as quick as it can shine you up into the brightest beauty you’ve ever been. But you’re an honest woman, and I know you’re not going to bury this secret – my heart says I love him too – and miss the beauty just to avoid the black eye. And if you come out with a goose egg? I can already see you, all creativity and brute strength, healing up and finding the new beauty shining through the scar.

The minutes are precious. If you know that you can trust him – if you’re sure he knows what a gift you are – share the thing you already feel. We spend enough of our lives dithering on shorelines. Go – meet him in the middle, where he ran out to stand alone, scared, vulnerable, for you.

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