The other day Linda Ronstadt’s “It’s so easy to fall in love” was playing on the radio.
Well, Linda, as much as I love your music, I beg to differ.
Whoever thinks it’s so easy to fall in love must not’ve had years of experience building walls around her heart.
Or maybe she learned much earlier than I did that when you build walls to protect yourself from being hurt, you also protect yourself from being loved.
For me falling in love has been anything but easy.
It’s been good- but it’s also been long, and slow, and confusing.
When I met Nick about two years ago I was twenty-six, and the longest relationship I’d had was a year and a half relationship in high school.
Before I met Nick it had been five years since I dated (if you can even call it that) another man- and that relationship only lasted three weeks.
Suffice it to say, I was no professional at relationships.
Add onto that two and a half years of meeting with women in extremely difficult marriages, years of experience dealing with men who objectified, disrespected, or hurt me, and an identity built around being a strong, independent, single woman, and you can see what Nick–and my own heart–were up against.
It was not in fact easy to fall in love. It was downright difficult.
I envy those girls who fall head over heels for their boyfriends, who gush over them and can’t stop talking about them and start planning their weddings after the third date. Sure, they annoy the heck out of me, but I had certainly hoped I would be one some day. That would’ve made things a lot easier for Nick and me.
But I’m not wired that way. Nope, I’m little miss, “let’s ignore our feelings, and overthink things, and analyze everything to death.” Forgetting myself, my head, my to-do list, or my plan for the day never happens long enough for me to be “in the moment.”
And it’s kind of hard to be in a relationship if you’re never in the moment- if you’re constantly thinking and analyzing and wondering things like, what if I don’t feel the same way tomorrow? or what if he doesn’t feel the same way tomorrow? what if he’s using me? or what if he sees me for who I really am? or what if he’s just tricking me because he wants me to marry him?
Now, part of the reason this is all so ironic is because Nick is a very trustworthy man. I know, you’re thinking that every girl thinks this about her boyfriend, but seriously- if you knew him you’d agree.
Yet, for a long time I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was pulling wool over my eyes or that he was going to pull the bate and switch. Sure, right now he’s patient, and kind, listens well and prioritizes his faith, but if I marry him (and he knows he’s “got” me) he’ll turn into an egotistical, emotionally abusive, alcoholic who never even goes to church.
Crazy? Seemed quite logical to me.
And there’s my own part too. Do I trust my emotions? No, not when they can be so subjective and change so often. Do I allow myself to enjoy the feeling of being with someone I have fun with and care about? No, not when the risk is that I might have my heart broken. Do I trust myself to make promises to him? No, not when the risk is that I would break his heart.
So, you see, it was not so goshdarn easy to fall in love, as Linda says; it was not easy at all.
And if it weren’t for the steadfast love and patience Nick has shown me- as well as trusted friends (both single and not) who helped me sort through all of my thoughts and feelings (crazy and not) I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten here.
But slowly, very slowly, I have let go of my identity as a single woman and embraced my identity as an independent woman who chooses to be in relationship. I’ve started to let go of the need to control everything around me. I’ve started to let go of my fears and hand them to the only One who can tame them. I’ve let go of the walls that were built around my heart.
And I’ve held on.
Held on to God who leads me. Held on to Nick who waits for me. Held on to my identity as a woman who has slowly and cautiously fallen in love.
But it wasn’t easy. No, no, it wasn’t easy at all.