I never knew it but I was terrified of love. I had seen so many failed relationships and marriages that it completely tainted my view of love. It took years for me to finally embrace and believe in love.
I didn’t feel like I had solid role models that shaped my view on how a man should treat a woman. So when I was mistreated, I blamed myself.
My teenage years were a struggle. I dated a boy who I had a crush on for years. I trusted guys very easily and was blindsided when someone I thought knew so well took advantage of my innocence. I felt broken afterwards because I felt pressured to go beyond my boundaries.
Our relationship was short lived but had lasting effects. The rest of high school and beginning of college was story after story of my failed romances. I had a way of attracting the wrong kind of guy. Some of my boyfriends made me feel like my positive, extroverted and joyful personality was somehow proof of how young, unbearable and stupid I was. I started to feel the emotional abuse was normal.
Love always had strings attached. I feared that if I didn’t do or say the right things that love would be revoked. I’m naturally extroverted, so I buried the pain behind a fake smile.
The more I was mistreated, the more I became obsessed with trying to find acceptance. The more I became obsessed, the more I would settle for the first guy who gave me attention. It was a toxic and awful cycle. A cycle that I couldn’t figure out how to stop.
It wasn’t until I was returning to college after Christmas break that I told my roommate I didn’t want to date anymore. I swore off guys because I just wanted to focus on school and growing in my faith.
That was when it happened. The moment I stopped chasing acceptance was when true and unchanging love found me.
“Ken” he said his name was with a deep southern accent as he introduced himself to me for the first time.
He didn’t know it then but he had to fight for me because I didn’t know what true romantic love was until he came into my life.
Ken was different. Our relationship began with him constantly telling me that I was enough and that our relationship wasn’t contingent on what I did or said.
He didn’t pressure me to be physical with him or force me to commit to him before I was ready. Through our relationship I started to slowly realize what love should be. Love wasn’t something I had to earn. It wasn’t something that would be taken away in anger.
We’ve been married for a few years now, and my husband is still everything I ever hoped for. It took Ken’s unfaltering love for me to finally believe in it. I believe in love because it wouldn’t let me go, even when I ran.