"How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?" ~ Albert Einstein
A Facebook acquaintance of mine recently posted something I couldn't read and move past (i.e. keep my opinion to myself). I felt compelled to speak up because I utterly disagreed and knew she would be open to a different perspective.
Her comment went something like this, "I hope I can teach my children to invest themselves in relationships they consider marriage-worthy and not give themselves or their hearts away to anyone else". It's worth noting she is married to her high school sweetheart and is quite conservative -- but neither are facts that affected my reaction to her statement.
I couldn't wrap my head around her message. Did she mean to say we shouldn't give ourselves over to love unless we know without doubt it's sustainable? And if we do allow ourselves to fall in love, do we have to stay?
Of course, my thoughts flew to my own high school sweetheart. And he really was just that -- a sweetheart. With him I felt beautiful and so loved. We had a good and healthy relationship. During our time together, I did so much growing. I learned about compromises and give-and-take and I discovered pieces of myself worth sharing with another person.
So I wrote all of that and hit reply and she immediately responded with "Why did you need someone else to find yourself?"
I thought of my amazing husband and how easily he might not have been mine. I smiled thinking of how we joke about living in the same co-ed dorm for a full year, less than 15 doors apart, never once meeting because it 'wasn't our time'.
I ended things with my high school sweetheart for no other reason than coming to the realization it wasn't the kind of love I wanted for a lifetime. We were together for a long time. We absolutely exchanged hearts full of hope for a future together. I broke his heart and to this day I shed tears when I think of it. And for me it was a very courageous decision. I am not someone who does the unexpected and I devastated my family and his with my choice to end our relationship. I've since lost his friendship and it's left a sad mark on my history.
But that first love, and the many gifts it gave me, was the reason I was who I was -- confident, self-assured and unwilling to settle -- when I locked eyes with my future husband for the first time. We have been together since that moment. After 17 years, we are still growing and learning from one another. We are raising a family together and living through experiences both joyful and turbulent.
On our wedding day I told our friends and family about my deep gratitude for being chosen by someone who wasn't afraid to be my mirror in life. He challenges me to find my best reflection. He believes in me and loves me and expects nothing less than the unexpected from me. He makes me swoon. He is a beautiful parent. He does extraordinary work in his career and makes a difference in people's lives. He makes a difference in my life.
If I hadn't loved and been loved before meeting him, it might never have been our time. And so my acquaintance and I agreed to disagree with my final comment. "I hope my children give their hearts to people who respect and care for them. I hope they feel brave enough to love whatever the outcome. And more than anything, I hope they know how worthy they are of another person's love, no matter how many times it takes to find the truest one."