As a girl I dreamt of love and the dream was simply to belong. To have a hand to hold, an anchor to keep me moored; to stop me drifting, meaninglessly through life.
A person to call home.
I dreamt no bigger, because in my childish naivety, love was that simple.
At 17, I expected no more. In fact, I expected nothing. I floundered my way through brief moments with boys with grubby hands and grubby sheets: giving myself away easily to anyone that bothered to see me. The desperation to be wanted, I’m sure, could be smelt on my skin. I was too grateful to expect more and I repaid that gratitude by being whoever they wanted me to be – by allowing the space between my legs to be used as a temporary rest stop. By allowing my voice to be silenced and my soul to be suppressed.
It never occurred to me to mind.
At 28, I found love. It was gentle and affirming, constant and safe. I found that home within the body of another – someone that soothed my pain and yet took the constant blows I served up. Someone that stayed, no matter how many times I gave him reasons to go. This love showed me every single way that I was worthy of being loved, not in spite of who I was. But because of it. Because of every broken, dirty, bloodied, foul-mouthed part of me. I was a warrior. I was magical. And like a dandelion pushing through the cracks in the pavement, I began to bloom.
At 35, I would find that love alone was not enough. Not enough for me. I needed the kind of love that tore down walls and built castles in their wake. The kind that challenged and stretched and demanded more. One that pushed me harder – relentlessly in pursuit of the greatest version of me that I could possibly become. One that unfolded and explored the ugliest, darkest corners of my being, and adored me all the more, because I’d survived those wars. I needed a love that was unwavering, certain, selfish and unyielding. One that did not sit safely in the harbour but one eager to ride the waves and weather the storms: one that wasn’t afraid being battered by the rocks.
And I finally believed myself worthy of it.
At 37, I realised that this kind of love requires sacrifice. It has a price. And that price is a lifetime alone.
Because this kind of love does not exist within the arms of another.
This is the kind of love that can only be found within myself.