I love a good love story, though my own is a little less conventional than most. Why am I writing a love story in a food blog? Because health is about the whole person, and this is a story that has impacted my emotional self deeply. There may be valuable lessons in this story for all people, and I hope you get something out of it. But the real reason I’m telling it is because it’s begging to be told.
Over a year ago, he started popping into my mind more frequently than usual. He, being my first love, my high school boyfriend, I’ll just say B (many of you know who this is anyway). As the weeks passed I was thinking of him more and more. It wasn’t so much intentional, he was just there. Every time I heard a country song, there he was. Every time I had a moment to hear my thoughts (in the shower, driving in the car, lying in bed at night), he was there.
To give you a little background, I met B in the 9th grade. We were both 14 years old. I had a crush on him from the moment I met him, and I actually went to school one day set on asking him to homecoming (this is significant considering I was an absolute social phobic). We were in science class (we sat next to each other) and right as I was opening my mouth to ask him, a guy came over, we’ll call him I, a dark, handsome, popular, football player, out of nowhere and asked me to go to the dance with him. How could I turn down such temptation? I didn’t. I and, well, I, dated for 7 months. This was my first relationship. During this time B and I got to be close friends. Little did I know he was just waiting in the wings, heeding the voice of his father, anticipating our breakup so he could make his move. That day did come, and B and I began dating about 2 months after. For 2 years we were inseparable. We had a lot in common. We were comfortable with each other. We were best friends. We dreamed of a future together. We spent hours staring into each other’s eyes, or sitting by the river just watching the water flow by. We went for walks, picked blackberries, drove around and browsed all the antique shops in the small towns in the valley we both grew up in. We were always in each other’s arms, both of us innately insatiable cuddlers. He was wonderful. I could have done nothing more for the rest of my life than kissed that boy and died a happy woman.
My family life during this time was turbulent, to say the least. I was dealing with abuse and an emotionally checked out mother. I’d dropped out of school to help care for my 2 youngest brothers. My step father went to jail, the oldest of my 3 younger brothers was abusing drugs and alcohol, was frequently stealing my mom’s car and running away from home, and conceived and aborted a baby at the age of 12 with his 15 year old girlfriend. B was the first person I’d ever felt loved by. He was the first person it was ever safe for me to love. He was the only security I had. He was my hope for a better future, my reason to make it through each day. He was on my side and was always there to listen and comfort me. Those 2 years ended when his dad took him to Thailand where he cheated on me with 2 women. My world was broken. I lost everything. It was all I could do to wake up in the morning and just breathe in and out. For years after that I was an emotional mess, always looking for love in the wrong places. B was still in my life. It just hurt so much to love someone like I loved him, to want to be with him forever, and to have him suddenly not love me back the same. Over the years we continued to grow up together. A lot of things happened between us and in our lives apart, but nothing ever came between us. We were always Holly and B. We were always each other’s… until I got married. Things had to change between us, it isn’t safe to have someone hold your heart like that and to spend hours cuddling together when that person is not your husband. We slowly drifted apart over the following 2 years. This was 6 years after we met. I quickly became a mother. My marriage failed. I was engaged to someone else, and that relationship also failed. I saw B for the last time in August of 2004, when I was 24 years old. He came over and we spent a few hours together. It was awkward, things had just changed so much in me. I had a daughter now, and needed to be an example and a protection to her. She’d already lost her father and the man who was to become her step-father. She knew B as “uncle B.” I also was converting religions at that time and had left that clingy, searching, will-do-anything-for-love girl behind. Shortly after, I met Kolby, the man who is now my husband. That was 7 years ago almost to this day. Kolby and I have been married for 6 ½ years. There are no regrets. I know I’m exactly where God wants me to be. I’ve known that without doubt since I prayed to know whether or not I should marry him. So why on earth, after all these years, was B suddenly haunting me?
I was so bugged by this unwanted obsession that figuring out why it was plaguing me began to take up a large amount of my focus and energy. For a long time I felt like I needed to apologize to him for the way I’d treated him. He was so good to me, and I, knowing nothing about love, having never seen it modeled, had no idea how to love him back. I found myself wishing desperately that I could go back for just one day and love him in a way that would reflect the love that I’d felt for him. I went to WA for a month and contemplated finding him so that I could apologize, but I didn’t out of concern for how my husband would feel about it. After all, the only reason he wasn’t still in my life in the first place was that my husband wasn’t comfortable with him there. When I got home I found that my husband had done something heartbreaking. I began crying, mournful over the fact that I’d passed up my opportunity to apologize and release these feelings out of concern for the feelings of a man who’d had no concern for my feelings in return.
I went on with life as usual, and the obsession deepened, as did the focus I put into figuring out why it was there in the first place. It felt so comforting to think about him… I shouldn’t say him really, I wasn’t thinking about him as a person, I was thinking about the feeling I’d had with him and longing to have that again. I wanted that comfort and security. I wanted my husband to be my best friend. I wanted a relationship like that again. I did everything that I could do to elicit this kind of relationship from my husband. We even worked on it in marriage counseling. For a while I really thought I was just returning to these thoughts out of habit for comfort. One night I decided to process these feelings with The Script (see the book Feelings Buried Alive Never Die), which is a means of reprogramming negative emotions into positive ones. I sat holding The Script with the intention of processing B right out of my heart. But I couldn’t do it. I was more bugged by this that anything. WHY??? What was it that I needed from these thoughts, what did it serve to hold on to him? Why, when I considered letting him go, did panic arise in me? These we dark months. I was obsessing. I knew there was something I was supposed to learn from this, some unmet need begging for voice. I just had to figure out what it was. In the meantime this was all interfering with my relationship with my husband, and that was already distant and often painful as it were. I felt like I’d been running in circles begging him to love me for so long, I was emotionally exhausted. I knew in my head that he loved me, I just couldn’t feel it in my heart, nor could I open my heart to him and risk being hurt again.
It took a lot of time, and a series of events too complex for me to even be able to sort out in my memory, but in the end, I figured some things out. I’ve reached a point of clarity. He is now safely in my distant memory and I’m thankful for what he was to me at that time in my life and for what he’s taught me as I’ve revisited the emotions of those years together. I realized there’s just something about a first true love. When you have never lost love before and don’t know the risk involved in loving, you love without fear. You love purely with complete abandon. I believe this is how we are meant to love, but life has a way of conditioning us to raise guard against love. When our hearts are broken for the first time, we tend never to love with complete abandon again. We tend to hang on to memories of that first love, as though it were the only true love we will ever know. We sometimes are not able to see the love right in front of us because we are hanging on so tightly to love that’s passed. B was the first person I’d ever felt loved by, and I mean the very first. I had never feel love from a parent or sibling or friend. Not fearless love. Not love for me just for being me. He was the first person I opened my heart to. I loved him back just as much as he loved me, maybe even more. I told him everything. He was the only person I could tell things to. He was my ally. For the longest time I thought he and I had something so special. We were Holly and B. We always had been. Why wouldn’t we always be? I continued to want to see him and apologize and even tracked him down online and sent him 3 messages, the second of which was reciprocated by a message from him. I admit I was hurt by his nonchalance and the fact that he didn’t write me back after the first message, and when he did write me back it was short and, though friendly, said nothing “real.” I told him there were so many things in my heart I wanted to say to him but he didn’t write me back again. For several weeks I was hurt and kept telling myself “he doesn’t care, just let him go.” I realized after time that I didn’t need to apologize to him, he was fine. He had no attachment to me, and no interest in hearing all these things that were in my heart. He was over it. It was in the past for him. It needed to be in the past for me too. I didn’t need his forgiveness, I only needed to forgive myself.
Finally, one night, it came to me. The reason for all of this. The answer. Many weeks before, after having prayed for a clue, part of the answer had come to me: I was holding on to the memory of the feelings I’d had of being loved because I was so afraid I would never feel loved like that again. I then came to realize that Kolby loved me more than B. He may not speak my love language, he may not actively love me in a way that causes me to feel loved, but he loved me so much he made me his forever. B did not. But the most significant realization, the one that came long at last, was that I truly did not believe that I could ever love another person like I loved B. I did not think I was capable of loving outside of that relationship. I realized that it wasn’t him who made me love; that love was in me. It was a part of me. It came only from me. If I was able to love then, surely I can love now. I’ve realized that I have the power to do that. I didn’t lose love. I lost a person, one who was not intended to be in my life forever and one who in the end didn’t love me enough to give me the marriage and children I wanted more than anything. Now, here I am with a wonderful man, who did and does love me like that. Kobly and I have been through so much together. He has broken my heart repeatedly like no one else could. I’ve forgiven him only to have him break my trust again, and again. But I now appreciate his love for me, and I now know that I have the love within me that I desire so much to share with him. I don’t know quite how to access it yet. I’m still holding on to past hurts and I’m still very afraid of loving and being hurt again. But, I want now more than ever to love without fear. And I know that if I was capable of it in the past, I am also capable now.
This is part of the story of my journey to love. It is a journey I will continue on throughout my life. I’ve long struggled with the inability to feel love from others and to express love to others. I am determined to let the people in my life know that I love them and am grateful to have them. I am now also determined to learn to let go of the past and love my husband in the moment, as he is now, and as the man he has the potential to be. To see him as Christ sees him, to accept and love him through his temporal trials. I know that in the end he will be there, perfected and calling my name, because I am his chosen, I am the woman he has sewn himself to for eternity. I am the one that he loves. And every day until then I make the conscious decision to try and love him better, with less and less fear and a more open heart. I pray the same for all of us and all the people in our lives. The more we love, the happier our happily ever afters will be.