When I was twelve years old I remember waking up from a dream and feeling safe. For me, feeling safe was an unusual feeling. I laid in my bed, under the covers and thought about the man I had met. As I walked along a path in the woods I came to a small stream. In the stream was a large rock, covered in moss. Upon the rock sat a man with deep brown eyes who stared into mine. When he began to talk to me I felt at ease, as though we had spoken before. As he sat on the rock, looking into my eyes he told me that he loved me, and he would wait for me. He said that it would take me a while before I found him, but I would and he would be ready and waiting for me.
I often thought back to this dream, to the man on the rock. I thought about the possibility of finding love, a love that was comfortable and safe. I tried to talk myself out of the existence of this man, but my mind and heart would bring me back. When I got older and began dating, each boy and later man who I would date was never him. Their eyes were never the eyes that had connected with mine in that dream. As the years passed I gave up on the idea of this perfect for me man waiting for me. I summed it up as a silly dream and gave up on finding the feelings I had woken up with that morning so long ago.
Each relationship I entered I soon knew I did not belong. Some held onto me longer than others. Some hurt my soul deeper than others. Some hurt my heart, while others hurt my whole existence. I was trapped in a cycle of toxins, released with every hurtful word, every raised fist. The deeper I got into the toxic spiral the more I felt I would never escape. The man on the rock still haunted my thoughts, as though he was reminding me to never give up on his promise. To keep looking, keep searching for him. I pushed the idea that there could be a man like him waiting for me out of my head. I felt that I was destined to be unhappy for the rest of my life. I felt that I did not deserve a love that was pure, and real, and safe.
Little by little I began to die inside of myself as I allowed the damage by others to slowly destroy me. Until one day. One spark of light came in and lit the path for me. It led me to freedom. It led me to safety. As the light lit up my darkest corners the man in my dream came to me. In my darkest hour, in my weakest state I was given the gift of love. Of safety.
As I looked into his deep, brown eyes I knew. I knew I had seen them before. I knew I had felt this way before. I knew that we had met before. I knew that he had waited for me. As our eyes connected mine filled with tears. Tears of love, tears of relief, tears of trust, of safety, of belonging. I knew in the instant that our eyes connected that he was the one that I had been longing for. He was the one that I had been waiting for; who had promised to wait for me.
I didn’t know if he knew of the connection too, but I trusted he would remember. I trusted that we met again for a reason. I trusted that the universe aligned so our paths would cross. For the first time, I just trusted. I worried that I may not measure up. I worried that I may not be enough. I worried that I may not earn the love that I had been longing for my entire life. The thoughts came and went and circled inside of me. I had been told for so long that I was no good, that I was not worth anything, and those thoughts stuck with me. But he never once gave me reason to believe them again. He never once made me feel like I was less than.
As I tried to find a reason why he may leave me, why he may see what others had seen, he always gave me reasons to believe I was wrong. When I was unable to love myself, he loved me enough for both of us. He stood by me, and my kids when our world shattered. When things became a nightmare he never left. He stood by us and waited. He shielded us with safety and provided love and support. He never left. He kept his promise from twenty years ago.
For the first time in my life I am not called names or hurt. After three years he has not once called me a name or put his hands on me in anger. For the first time I can see, I can feel what it is like to be loved. I don’t have to chase it, I don’t have to beg for it; it just is. To be loved and only be expected to love in return. I never thought such a thing existed. I was wrong. All those years of hurt, sadness and abuse are over. They are over. I never thought I would be able to say those words; but they are over. Never again will I allow anyone to treat me the way I had been treated. Never again will I question if love is real. I know. I know without a doubt. I feel with all that I have that love is the only real thing out there. Love is all around when you allow it in.
To the man with deep, brown eyes; thank you for all that you are, for all that you do, and for waiting. I love you.