Freedom means many things for many people, but there’s a special kind of liberation that can be found in loving someone completely.
I never liked being single.
Maybe it’s the libra in me, maybe it stems from deep-seeded insecurities or abandonment issues—whatever the case, I’ve felt forever-driven to find that one true love.
When I was six-years old I fell for a neighborhood boy who set the precedent for what my happily-ever-after should look like. He was loud and skinny, blond and blue-eyed. He was smart, extremely funny and as emotionally unavailable as you’d expect from an eight-year old. So of course, I was hooked.
As I grew up he remained my ideal—the one I would compare every date, every “match,” every this-seems-like-a-good-idea guy I would fall for. Most of the time I didn’t see it happening, I didn’t realize the criterion that had been set, but each relationship would leave me feeling like something was missing—something important—and I would inevitably leave.
But this isn’t a sad story.
This is a story about freedom, about independence. This is the story of a heart who felt insecure and worried and restless until she found him… right where she left him.
It seems that some ideals remain ideals; sometimes (most times), your six-year old self has life figured out in a way your adult self is too jaded to see. And six-year old me knew two things: words were magic and he was my one and only.
So after I spent my teens and early twenties adventuring around the country; after I tried a half dozen zip codes on for size; after I had broken hearts and quit jobs and done too many drugs and drank too many pints of Guinness… I moved home.
As I drove 1700 miles from my then-home in Denver, CO, I knew a certainty that had eluded me for years. I felt liberated. I felt free and strong and wise for having listened to—for the first time in a very long time—the whispers of my heart.
As the miles stretched out behind me, I felt lighter. I felt safe. I felt sure.
I was going back to the east coast, to my hometown, to my parents.
What I didn’t know was that the eight-year old boy from my yesterday had done his own share of adventuring and heart breaking and job quitting and Guinness drinking—though with far-less drug consuming, I suspect. He had accomplished all of this and he had also moved home, just a few short weeks before I had. When our paths crossed—a mere four days after I arrived home—my ideal became my reality and my six-year old heart rejoiced.
You don’t have to be on board with destiny and magic and all of that, though you’ll never convince me otherwise. To say that running into a man in a bar in the middle of October changed my life would be an understatement, but I’ll say it: running into that man in a bar in the middle of October changed my everything.
Though I was certain I was driving toward a free heart, I didn’t realize that freedom would include another person. I thought freedom was free… of everything and everyone.
But there he was, with the same big, beautiful grin and the same fill-you-up, intoxicating laugh. Everything was new, but with the safety of familiar. So we set out on a complicated, yet blissfully simple life together. We’ve known weird and hard and trying and beautiful moments—but with each challenge, each stranger-than-fiction plot twist, each tear, each argument and each honest conversation, my heart has opened just a little bit more.
He mirrored the ugliest bits, the ones I had so-masterfully tucked away. He didn’t accept words like “I don’t want to talk about it” or “not right now” as fair or valid. Instead, we talked. We talk, even when I’m furious at the prospect of more talking, and we don’t stop talking until we move past the issue.
He made me see the beautiful bits too, the ones I had so-ruthlessly ignored.
When you have a partner who mirrors honestly, you have a window into every joy and every ache. You find a safe space to experience you, to adore and appreciate you in all your magic. It wasn’t until I had given myself permission to be loved unconditionally that I broke free.
With each recognition of the authentic pieces, the unneeded, heavy bits fell piece-by-piece away. Over the span of years, I’ve shed the skins of heartache and trauma. I’ve let go of self-destructive habits and self-sabotaging beliefs. And once I released all of those heavy things, what’s left was a shimmering version of me—who looks a lot like the six-year old child who knew her heart’s wishes.
Freedom looks like many different things for many different people, but at the center of all of these individualized freedoms is this: we desire the space to live an honest and authentic life.
October 12th will mark the seven-year anniversary of our reunion on that fateful night. In a lot of ways it was a coming together, but for me (and my heart), it was a day of liberation.
The heart wants to be free; it’s her natural state, her happy place. But you must trust her advice; because even when you’ve spent a lifetime convinced that you’ll never know or deserve freedom, you just might find it in a familiar face.
Freedom, it turns out, feels a lot like coming home.
[image: via shutterstock]