I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh
Through my tears
I was born to love
I’m gonna learn to love
Without fear

When I was in missionary school, I sat all alone in my school leader’s bedroom one night, in her quiet time pillow corner, listening to Over the Rhine’s album “Drunkard’s Prayer.” I was in tears by the end of the first verse of “Born.”

Over the past ten years, I have learned to keep my composure even at times when I probably should not. But this ability to limit and censor my self-expression has been in the forefront of my mind over the past couple of months, particularly in reference to affection. It started, in part, because of the strong attraction I felt for my new sweetheart, but it is a conversation I’ve been having with myself for a long time, about what it means to love, to be “in love” and to “fall in love” – read here for reference.

It occurred to me today that perhaps the reason why I do not fall in love is because I am afraid. Historically, when I have been strongly attracted to someone, it was not reciprocated in the same way and I really stood to get my feelings hurt badly. I’m afraid that if I like someone too much it will push them away, or that I’d lose them as soon as the rush of new relationship energy faded. I also think that people use the phrase “in love” far too carelessly.

I know it’s all oxytocin and fizzy brain concoctions, but I can’t help wondering if I’m missing out on something if I don’t let myself succumb to the flow of feelings. I am always sitting on my hands when I want to lunge, keeping my feelings under wraps, my behavior so appropriate, level and low-key. I always want to give people an “out” just in case I misjudged their intentions with me. I would feel guilty about putting someone in the position of having to break my heart … how fucking polite is that? And possibly a little fucked up. Just once, I’d like to allow myself to just let it come out all wild, raw and human. Even if it means being vulnerable, getting hurt, and not being afraid to do it all over again.

Maybe not this time, maybe not with this person, but sometime, I truly do want to allow myself that freedom of expression, to “fall in love” – if I ever figure out what that even means.

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