“If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long.” — Glenn, age 7

This quote was in an Elephant Journal article titled Advice on Love from Children. And seriously, these kids nailed it – like this one: “Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work.” — Dick, age 7

And this one, “I’m in favor of love as long as it doesn’t happen when Dinosaurs is on television.” — Jill, age 6

How I wish I could block out love when it’s time for my favorite hobby. But I can’t. None of us can. We’re simply not made that way.

Today, love followed me to the gym. I wanted to go get on the treadmill. What I know about myself is a lot, and it includes these things: I don’t like to run except when I crave running. I crave running when the emotions that I have been trying to silence are like a dam in my heart about to burst if they don’t get shed and processed. Running does that for me.

Sure enough, three minutes into my workout, The Script’s song “I’m Yours” came on my IPod and the tears started rolling down my cheeks. If you ever see a crazy looking lady on a treadmill running and crying, chances are she’s rolling deep in an emotional cesspool. Today I was the crazy lady weeping on the treadmill. But, I let the tears fall and just pretended it was sweat; I was working so hard my eyes were sweating. And as the emotions rushed into the freedom of being expressed, I wrote this letter to the man that I love.

I wrote it in my head and put it on paper later. I mean, I definitely can’t write while running on the treadmill. Wish I could though, because wow, that would be uber productive.

Dear Man I Love,

You know that song that I asked you to listen to called “I’m Yours” by The Script, and then you liked it so much that you bought it for me through ITunes and sent it to me when I was halfway across the world in India missing you? It is playing right now and what wells up in me is the feeling that I am yours and you are mine and we were carved out and crafted for each other because we hold deep healing elements for the other person. And these deep healing elements are held deep beneath our fears and our vulnerabilities, so in order to give them to each other, we have to dig down to abysmal cavities– way below the surface and the shallow. We have to unearth the seeds of dysfunction and inaccurate beliefs that life and the choices of others and our own choices have planted within us. We have to be brave for one another and for ourselves. Because shit gets real. Shit gets hard. And right now, shit is real hard.

I remember a sweet time within the first eight months of our meeting. We were in the throes of passion and we made some very serious “I will” statements to each other. I said, “I will hold space for you so you can grow. I will love you through it. I will grow and do my work and meet you when you outgrow me. I will wait for you while you’re doing your work if I get there first. “ And you echoed every sentiment and guided me with “I wills” of your own.

So I find myself here today, sitting in the longest relationship I’ve ever been in – almost 3 years – a relatively short time because I’ve never been very good at relationships. This relationship, commitment thingy requires a T-Ton of work.

Honestly, in some moments I feel like running away, because that would be a temporary easiness and a superficial release and in some moments I feel like digging in and figuring this shit out. But mostly I feel like digging in. Why? Because I love you AND I love me. I want to be the best me I can be. And that means growing out of old fears and old patterns and old ways of being and old coping mechanisms like running away.   That means embracing things in my life that I never could have foreseen or even imagined I wanted. And that means holding space for you, the man I love, as you do the same. So that’s what I’m doing. In this moment, I stand before you, naked with the most fragile vulnerability, holding space and growing so hard that it hurts.

What’s gotten me through the past couple of weeks? Our “I will” statements. Every morning, I close my eyes and repeat to myself, “Man I love, I will hold space for you so you can grow. I will love you through it. I will grow and do my work and meet you when you outgrow me. I will wait for you while you’re doing your work if I get there first. “   And at least once through the day, I say them again, and again at night when I’m laying in bed next to your warm body. This is my truth and my motto and right now, my lifeline.

And my hope? My hope is carried on the vision of what our very real, very hard love will become once we pierce through the seeds of containment and blossom into what we’re meant to be.  Because, damn. It’s gonna be Real. And Good. It’s gonna be real good.