When Love Wins Out: Special Guest Blog

{It takes one to know one, so when Joel ( a self-proclaimed Krafty Bitch) and I began exchanging correspondence, I knew I’d found a kindred wise-ass spirit. Yet it also takes more than wit and ornery brilliance to keep an online friendship alive, and it was Joel’s vulnerable stories and written tales that resonated on a deeper level for me. When I asked him to contribute to the Special Guest Blog feature, I was confident he’d come up with something wonderful, and he most definitely did.}


Special Guest Blog by Joel

“Are you serious?”

I turned and looked him. He was completely serious.

I said, “yes” and kissed him.

The man I had waited for, quite literally the man of my dreams, had just proposed. We were engaged.

I continued to drive us up the interstate that night in the rain, trying to process what had just happened. Just an hour beforehand we had been eating pizza at my brother’s house, surrounded by my immediate family. That alone—me bringing a significant other home to meet my family—already had me in a state of grateful disbelief. The fact that they had all loved him, including my dad, was just more sweet icing on the most delicious cake in the history of ever.

We continued to talk for the rest of the four hour drive back to my place, punctuating our conversation with the wow of “we’re getting married!” and trying not to think too much about his departing flight early the next morning. Right now, it was just us, in the moment. I had already learned so much from him. Striving to be more present was one of those lessons.

Still, we couldn’t help but marvel at the events of the past year, let alone the last several months or days.

A year ago on that same day, I had literally stood on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in tears, wondering if the love I had always wanted would find his way into my life. At the same time, he was making the decision to seek out the love his life. We had been on the journey together the whole time; it just took nine months for us to find each other.

Just nine months. The proposal took place on my 38th birthday, so “just nine months” is a bit of an understatement. This was something part of my psyche thought had passed me by. But my heart never gave up despite the battle scars and wounds it had endured. Even in dark times when I had consciously wanted it to stop believing, to let go of the enduring spark, it didn’t.

Love always wins. It always wins.

Sometimes that victory is a production number of epic, Hollywood proportions. Sometimes it’s so hard to tell that love has won or endured that you don’t realize it until months or years later. And then there are times, like our engagement, when the subtlety of love’s triumph is a comfortable blessing.

It’s not easy to believe that love always wins. It’s even harder to live with that authenticity. It takes practice and energy and fierceness.

Love is not weakness. It is the perfect strength.

Energetically, romantically, physically, and, oddly enough, physiologically, love emanates from our heart—a part of our anatomy and consciousness that sustains us while at the same time leaving itself vulnerable and open to emotional upheaval, loss, and grief. In those moments, those visceral moments when we feel our heart breaking, that’s when it’s most difficult to believe that love always wins. This is particularly true when anger and cynicism become the scar tissue under which the heart continues to heal.

When my mother went into cardiac arrest and her spirit left this side of the universe, I felt my heart rip into destruction. For months and years afterward, the sensation of emptiness in my chest was, at first, disconcerting before becoming my new normal. I stopped feeling warmth there, in my core. I was the last person to believe that love always wins. All the while, my heart was undergoing some strange alchemy I had yet to acknowledge. When loss begat loss, I became numb to the metamorphosis happening.

To transmute something is to change its substance, its form. The shredding of my heart allowed for transmutation to occur, if I was willing. Heart stuff is hard work. It ain’t for sissies. Putting things back together in a new way while allowing yourself to share your vulnerability takes more strength than is traditionally recognized.

In this case, love won in a variety of ways. First, I learned the sacrifice of love through the actions of my mother. By choosing not to disclose her illness until it was too late, I like to think that she was trying to spare us for as long as possible. Knowing the score and how much pain she had to endure for so long, I doubt I’ll ever know a stronger person in this life.

Love won again when I rebuilt my heart and opened it back up for business, knowing how different it was from the garden variety, knowing how sensitive it had become to suffering. For whatever reason, compassion is not attractive or sexy to the mainstream. But I refused to present myself in a fashion only suitable for superficial romance.

Love scored a major victory when I took ownership of my worth. And when I recognized my fiancé for who he was while we were still getting to know each other and before the proposal crossed his lips, love won yet again.

My heart has now expanded beyond what even I could have imagined, often feeling so full it might burst. And it’s warm. My heart is warm for the first time in years.

Maybe this all sounds cliché. To me, it’s just a blessed reality. I have no illusions that this is a fairytale or perfection. Our relationship is grounded in the complexity of reality. And that’s where we both want it. Neither of us was looking for an ideal. We were both looking for authentic compassion and passion.

And in that reality, love wins all over again, every day.

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