It’s all my heart has ever craved, my innermost, richest desire: unconditional love. It’s a devotion void of rules, a fondness that knows no bounds. It’s an acceptance of me in my entirety, embracing the beauty along with the beast, the delightful and the coarse. Yet, somehow, it’s eluded me, this true, unrestricted fancy.
I’ve had love that revolved around guilt, a caring that has been driven by making me feel severe shame. People have tried to buy my love, connecting admiration to countless material things. I’ve been given numerous conditions, a list of criteria to meet. There has been the understanding that I change or that I become submissive to those who offer me their love. There have been sexual implications, expectations that I “put out.” I’ve also been used for things other than my body, parts of me such as my intelligence or my giving nature. Love has always come with a catch, regulations, restrictions, or speculation; adoration has never simply been given to me for free and without strings attached.
My parents pushed perfection, refusing to settle for less. They would often shame me into submission, sometimes invoking martial law. There were always expectations, deadlines, or appearances to keep. This caused a rift, and many secrets that I keep buried deep within my heart.
My friends encouraged humor and happiness to be my main attractions. There were always topics or types of affection that were to remain permanently off limits, which felt like putting a cage on my brain and around my heart. The expectation was to give, never to receive. My pain was met with boundaries, push back, or an inability to understand. This meant I stayed in hiding, wearing a costume and a mask.
Romantic gestures that I would give were often halted by rejection on the other end. If I was given permission proceed, it always quickly became messy, forced, and honestly very terrifying. I was dumped for moving too slowly, too quickly, or on different tracks. They’d say I wasn’t what they expected, that I was “too much” or “not enough.” Even now, I feel cornered. I perceive there to be restrictions, regulations, or conditions. My heart is constantly aching, my body feels untrue.
To be honest, I don’t need there to be romance, courtship, or even sex. I just want to be noticed and accepted, permission to be all that I am or desire to be. I’d like a shoulder to cry on and an embrace when I am scared. I want someone who will chat with me for hours, never becoming disengaged or the slightest bit enraged. I want someone who sees my beauty, but also recognizes my flaws. I just don’t want to be invisible, untouchable, or ignored. I want to hear those three words that form the perfect phrase and know that when it’s vocalized that it rings true and full of meaning: I just want to hear “I love you,” and feel it permeate my bones.
What I would have never imagined, though, was that I’d stumble into you: a fellow drifting dreamer, desiring the same. I had come to the conclusion that my desire for unconditional love was a pipe dream, an impossibility, that could simply not be obtained. I thought that I was an unloveable, wicked, wretched mess. I had long lost hope on ever feeling what an admiration without restriction would be like to receive.
I never forced you to love me by twisting your arm or interjecting myself into your orbit; I never asked or begged for your affections. Yet, somehow, they still came. You never once tried to run away, deflect, or hide. You have accepted me with open arms from the first introductions, through the darkness, in the light. You’ve held my hand (figuratively) and also my heart, quite delicately and with special care. You always know just what to say to remind me to stay alive. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me sing silly songs and talk about ranch dressing. You look beyond my flaws, my homely, awful face, and tell me that there’s something good, someone beautiful, underneath it all. You don’t care that I’m borderline, that I’m fat, or that I’m bi: You take me as the total package without a question or hesitation.
I’m aware that I come with baggage, an expansive inventory of flaws, diagnoses, and scars. There’s nothing exciting about the outside, nothing attractive about this package. Somewhere, though, hidden in the innermost caverns of my soul, I now know there’s someone beautiful, someone special, someone worthy of unconditional love, a love which you have given me always. Thanks to you, I’m willing to put myself out on the line, to give without hesitation, to be present forever more. I don’t need much, just this beautiful being you’ve handed me, to feel safe, loved, and forgiven. I still may need there to be confirmation that this time there are no conditions, no red tape, no chance of unexpected abandonment. My friend, you’ve literally presented me with all I desire, all I yearn for, all I crave: to love and be loved completely and without conditions or ever having to change. Thank you and know that I will always be here, that I love you just the same.