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I remember this time last year.
The pain in my chest was a constant. A gnawing emptiness. A wound that kept reopening with every memory, every tape in my head that ended with, “You could have done that better,” and, “What is wrong with you? No one will ever love you.”
I took my “cried out” body into the shower and wept. Not just a few tears, but the kind of heartache sad songs are written about. The ones where you hear and feel something deep, but are grateful the pain is not your own.
And yet, I know this pain well.
I remember this time last year, as hot water ran down my naked skin…
Please, please, if there is a God, help me.
I decided I needed to take a trip—to see a shaman. I researched. I went to Puerto Rico.
I found parts of myself that had been missing. The little girl with sparkly eyes. The one who saw beauty in a starfish and giggled with a hiccup at the end of her sentences.
And here I am, a year later. I swore to everyone, including my therapist:
Never again would I lose her.
The wild girl, with savage in her bones. Never again would I let someone break me—on my knees, feeling helpless and out of control.
I was so sure. I felt so confident. I protected her tender heart with an “I don’t need you” persona, certain my own company was enough.
I intentionally avoided romantic relationships. I couldn’t do it again. I never wanted to feel the agony of heartbreak. The kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night with an ache in your chest, praying it was all just a dream.
And yet, here I am. A year later. On the couch at 3:33 am. Wondering what is wrong with me. Asking for help. Questioning everything—especially my own sanity.
We all knew I’d fall in love again.
I got attached. I did what I said I would never do.
But what if the way I love is not “bad,” “wrong,” or “dysfunctional”?
Here is one thing I know for sure:
I know that I love fiercely. I know I don’t always get it right, and can get hijacked in a hurricane of emotion.
There are moments when my sadness could fill an ocean with tears.
I have no problem expressing my anger, and sometimes throwing pillows, but I work hard to “use my words.”
I ask for what I want, and realize it can be intimidating to tell me no.
I laugh loud enough to be shushed, and when I fall down, I always get back up, even when paralyzed with anxiety.
I have been called “too much,” “a little crazy,” and “she’s a lot.”
I have reigned in the wild woman, because the world said, “No one will ever be able to handle her.”
But f*ck that, because my love is real, ferocious, and forever. I will sit with the greatest suffering—yours and my own. I will not back down. I will straddle the edge of life and death, where our human resilience shines and small talk doesn’t exist.
A love brave enough to wrestle demons in the middle of the night…
Then wake up in the morning, walk outside, and smile at pink buds, decorating trees with the hope of spring.
I said “Never again,” but some things are not meant to be controlled.
Despite valiant attempts to keep love at bay, I was born with the propensity to get wrapped up in another.
So here I stand again, naked. Fresh eyes staring through my exposed soul.
His skin. His smell. The way only he can make me laugh…for hours, out loud, with snot and animal sounds.
Hunched over belly cackling other couples look at with jealousy.
The feeling of pure joy and contentment being close, on the couch watching Netflix. Drinking beer or punching pads. Dancing in the living room or looking through his brown eyes, into myself. Seeing something I have never seen before—an intimacy that goes on forever.
He says, “I love you just the way you are,” but I still fear my “too muchness” will be too much.
When he walks out the door, I worry, “Is this the last time? Did I scare him away?”
Will he ever say my name again?
And the way he says my name, “Angela,”
Makes me feel like I am magic.
Heartbreak is an experience I never wish to feel, and yet, my heart breaks often, because I love with intensity.
My heart skips handshakes for hugs, feeling the warmth of bodies, and remembering we are not alone.
I’m not sorry for my passion.
I accept the risk, because I believe in the stability of grace and forgiveness.
With each crack in our armor, we discover moments we will never forget.
Simple. Honest. Vulnerable. Real.
I will no longer feel ashamed.
I will take a page from the New Testament and applaud Peter, who kept moving forward, despite the thorn in his flesh.
I will not close my heart in protection. I will stay open, even if some days I can only crawl out of bed.
I know how to take care of myself. I trust my ability to heal on a daily basis.
I am not afraid to stay in the fire and drown in the water. I will feel the air on my unmasked face and always remember the earth under my bare feet.
To all the little girls and boys who were taught to “cage in” raging hearts:
You are magic. The world needs you. Do not be sorry for the depth of your emotion.
There is nothing “wrong” with you.
You are not broken.
You are a roaring reminder that we are more than our jobs, our bank accounts, the masks we so perfectly place over our “real life” faces that just want to belong.
Stay out of the box. Paint the colors only you can see in your head. Sing the songs you write on the fly.
Let the words out. The ones begging to be freed. Cry hard, laugh loud, and live every moment like it could be your last.
We are born and we will die, but in between we have a choice.
And I’m okay with loving like a crazy woman.
I’m okay with my heart “breaking open” to something more compassionate, more human. Something that is ready to swim in deep waters of change.
This time last year I said, “Never again.”
This time this year, I’m saying, “Yes.”