It was mid-summer last year and I was a broken soul. When I look back, it was the first week in August that I felt happiness within myself. The previous 5 months were a blur. I’d spent two years powering all of my love and energy into a relationship that wasn’t right for me in anyway whatsoever. I was drowning in deep water and I had no idea how to swim out of it.
Sometime in June I met a man years older than me, but level in every other way. He liked numbers and worked so hard in his job that it made me envy his potential in life. Kindness burst from his heart, showing in every action he made. We had a connection that I could feel deep down, I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was or what it meant.
My own heart wasn’t whole, it was still healing from years of heartbreak in every aspect of my life: family, love, career. My soul felt toxic and all I wanted to do was shut myself away from everyone and everything and never care again. But it was impossible. It was impossible when I found myself sat opposite him in a quiet pub situated in a town neither of us knew, hiding from recognisable faces. I was an open book and he was quiet and guarded, clearly broken with his own demons. We laughed all night long and I persuaded him to let go and tell me his stories. We hugged as we left and I felt a burning urge to kiss him, but I didn’t.
We were standing in a park beneath the sunshine a month later. Words hurling back and forth, hurting each other. I watched the sparkles in the water before us, listening as he openly told me how much he cared for me. It took one month for him to know that he could let out his feelings and trust me. It frightened the hell out of me and I shut my eyes and blanked out the emotion. I didn’t want to love somebody again. Loving hurt because being broken was always around the corner, it felt. There was only one way to escape it I thought, so I told him how I wanted to be alone, and how he should leave me be.
As I drove home that evening I felt overwhelmed, my heart ached. It was the next morning and without thinking I grabbed my phone and messaged him to tell him I’d made a mistake. He was angry; how could he be angry? He hadn’t slept and here I was juggling his emotions.
Time passed and I knew there was something about us. I couldn’t give up on this. Battling my feelings and my broken heart, I put all of my passion into trying with him. It was that first week in August and I had to leave. On our last night together everything was clear. We sat in the car and I shyly told him of how I hoped we could be something more and he smiled.
As I packed my car full with my belongings, my fingers excitedly updated him with my plans. He was so interested and asked me to let him know when I had safely arrived. I was with my friend Abi and we travelled 6 hours down South to the blue waters of the country. “Do you really like him?” Abi asked me halfway through our journey. “I really think I do,” I replied, realising I must have spoken about him like an excited 13 year old girl.
There was something about the blue waters that infected me and flushed out of all my burning negativity. In that week I felt like a bird, fluttering through the clean coastal air, learning to smile and love again. Late at night I would skip out of the bar and call him just because his voice set the butterflies off. Eagerly I would tell him all about my day and the beautiful sights I had seen. With each passing moment in the sunshine, I knew I was healing.
On the day the waves swallowed me up in an attempt to suck the life out of me, I didn’t let it dampen my happiness. I laughed about it and couldn’t wait to share my story. He giggled too but worried about me more than anything. In that moment I felt how much he cared and it made me feel so whole.
By the end of the week I was so ready for home, so ready to see him again. It took a moment of realisation whilst driving back to know that I truly understand what it means to feel deeply. Now a twenty something year old who has felt more deeply than a girl in her twenties should ever have to feel. But also a wise twenty something year old who has overcome so much hurt and disaster that she can gracefully handle all of the bad that life will throw. I know now what it means to care and be cared for in a way that doesn’t involve hurt lingering around the corner.