Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Love Happened

Early Valentine's Day Date. Dinner Out!

The biggest reason that I haven't been blogging is, well, this guy in the photo above came into my life and stole my heart. 

For so many years, I blocked out the possibility of finding love. I closed my heart to it, believing that my illness made me 'unlovable'. Then, as I began to share my fears with friends, family, my counselor and even my doctors, I heard their voices telling me how worthy I was of love. I also know I have a lot of love to give.

One of my doctors said to me: "You are not sick. Maybe your body has an illness, but you have everything to offer a partner. Why are you punishing yourself by not trying to date and find love?" That comment stuck with me. Recently, when I told my PCP I was dating a wonderful man he said he wished he had told me what the other doctor had said--that I deserved love and that I deserved only the best.

After our trip to the beach last year, I signed myself up for eHarmony in an effort to 'get my toes wet' when it came to dating. I was TERRIFIED of dating after so long away from it. Plus, before I got sick, I had spent my college years in a long term relationship, so I had never really 'dated' much. A first date? What's that?!

Almost daily, I wore a pair of earrings that I called my "Open Heart Earrings" that I had purchased at the beach and reminded me to keep my heart open to the possibility of love. I posted on Facebook that I wanted to find love. I eventually posted the same words on my blog in May of 2014

As my health improved, I filled my LIFE to the brim with what fulfilled me. I finally felt at peace in so many ways with ME, with my puppies, my parents, my remarkable friends and family, my many interests and hobbies. I felt whole. I felt that I would be okay if I didn't find someone to love. 

And that's when "It" happened. 

I met a wonderful man. And I fell in love with him. His name is Kiernan.

We are beautifully pathetically smitten with one another.

Here is our story.

My Valentine's Gift from K. A Collage of Where we Met and Our First Dates.

How We Met

We met on November 30th at a mutual friend's surprise 30th birthday party. That mutual friend is Marjie.

Both of us were a little unsure about attending the party--K didn't really know any of the folks going and I was unsure about making small talk with a bunch of folks I didn't know. 

Since I've known Marjie, she's been encouraging me to date (even being the person to edit my eHarmony profile), and had mentioned another man that she thought I would be a good match with. This man was supposed to attend the party so I got all gussied up, worked up my nerve that I would introduce myself to him, ask him if the seat next to him was available, and otherwise not 'play it safe' by sitting with the women I knew at the party. 

Aforementioned 'other guy' did not show up to the party. And I totally relaxed. I was authentically myself and even talked openly about my illness at the table.

Kiernan sat mostly quiet surrounded by a zillion women at the table. What a trooper!

We posed for pictures and he stood either behind me or next to me in them. He says he remembers the moment I put my arm around him.

I'm convinced that the universe brought us together on this day, that I was meant to go to the party 'looking for someone else', that he would not be there, that I would fully relax and that Kiernan would be attracted to my authentic self. 

Our relationship has unfolded so organically and easily. 

Our First Selfie. Photobomb by Tovah Rose.

How we Started Dating

After the party, Kiernan asked Marjie if I was single and if I dated. Of course she said: YES! YES! YES! Ha! :)

We were all posting party pics and tagging each other on FB, so K found me via FB and messaged me: 

"Would you like to swap phone numbers, maybe get together some time?"

And so it began.

Honestly, I was blown away over 'being noticed' by a man.

K's First Visit to Our House. Look Who Approved!

Our first date

K won me over pretty quickly with his thoughtfulness and caring. He really thought through our first date. We went to a cozy local bar with a real fireplace where we talked easily for 2 1/2 hours! He was there before I arrived, he ordered my drink for me, he paid, he was a perfect gentleman. 

Yup. These Guys LOVE Him.

Our Second Date

For our second date, we went out to lunch at our very favorite Thai and Sushi restaurant. We shared dishes and realized how many common core values and interests we shared.

After our second date, I was fairly quickly falling for K.

I tease him a lot about falling for a bearded man with tattoos! He's so unexpected in terms of my usual draw towards the preppy clean-shaven type, yet he's everything I want in a person's SOUL. 

Keeping my heart open to unexpected and different possibilities led me to him.

Tovah Rose is SACKED Out.

On his first visit to my house, the puppies immediately sat on either side of him. K said: "Well, they do this for everyone don't they?"


Honestly, when I saw how much the puppies loved him from the get go, I should have known I would fall in love with this man. But, they 'knew' before I did that this man would fill our lives with so much love.

Kiernan lost his beloved dog, Nestle, just a month after our first date. I only met her once, which breaks my heart. Did Nestle know I would take care of Kiernan when she left this world? Did she know Kiernan would be okay? For some people, this might be a bit much--but I do believe our animals know us and are so very wise about what we need. Asher left this world just as I began to get my wings to fly again, after he had spent years taking care of me. He was ready to go and he prepared me for my new life. I hope Nestle and Asher are watching over us, knowing that Kiernan and I are taking care of each other.

Bromance: K and Gershy

K and I share many common interests--the top two being DOGS and FOOD. He loves to cook! We are both townies, we love this town, we love farmers markets, we love movies, we love soup, we love word finds, we love flannel pajamas, we love snuggling, we love sharing meals together, we love good conversation, we love writing, we love nature, we love learning, we love children, we love to laugh, we love SmartWool socks, we love so many things that bind us. 

At the same time, we have enough different interests to keep things interesting.

We also share the same core values about relationships and life.

Visiting Marjie and Adele

I asked G-d to bring me a gentle and kind soul and that is who He brought me in Kiernan.

This man is incredibly kind, gentle, loving, compassionate, loyal, faithful, generous, empathetic, and patient. 

He is also smart and funny, creative and artistic.

He's a beautiful human being.

Being Goofy for Jeannine
(Jeannine was at home spending the day trimming her mom's toenails, helping her bathe and changing her sheets. K and I wanted to cheer her up so we did a selfie of us 'trimming' Tovah's toenails to tease her that it wasn't all romance all the time   in our world either. Haha! :))

I have spent so many years trying to cope with the trauma of a sexual assault as a teenager and the trauma that illness has had on my sexuality and sense of beauty.

I have literally spent much of my life being AFRAID of men.

Dating, being intimate with a man physically or emotionally, and letting a man into my life seemed like the scariest thing EVER. Yet, I knew I wanted to date and find love very much.

With My Favorite Chef

I had no idea that I could find someone who would make me feel so safe, so comfortable and so loved so quickly that he would crack my heart wide open and allow it to love again. 

Yes, we've fallen in love quickly. But we are also 39 and 36 and we are very ready to love. Do I hope Kiernan is 'the one'? Absolutely. Would I be happy to never go on a first date again? Absolutely. Does this excite me and terrify me all at once? Absolutely.

All we can know right now is that we are the right person for each other right now in this moment. We know that we love each other and that the future will unfold as it is meant to.

Smooch! I Made Him Blush! :)

I know now that the right person can open my heart wide. I know that he can make me feel safe. I know that he will be patient with my fears about illness or sexual trauma. I know that he will love me for all that I have to offer and not for what I do not. I know that he will push me in the wheelchair without a second thought. I know that he will never act 'put out' because he has to do the set-up and clean-up for dinner, because he has to always drive me, because he has to accommodate to my schedule. I know that he will do these things with grace, love and compassion. I know that in my own way I can be an equal partner in the relationship. I know that I have as much to give to him as he does to me. I know that we will show each other love, appreciation, respect, loyalty and patience. I know that he will take my fears and my tears and hold them in the palm of his hand. 

Yes, this man has opened my heart and I have fallen in love with him.

This is why I've been so quiet on my blog lately. I've been busy falling in love. Living the life I've been waiting so long for. Falling in love is a 'crazy joyful miracle', as my friend Jamie texted me. It's full of endorphins and butterflies and requires lots of energy! :) 

I'm sorry I've been so out of touch with so many people. Yet,  I am not sorry for reveling in every moment of this new life. I have waited and watched on the sidelines for so many years as my friends and family have lived their lives the way I dreamed I would live mine, and as they fell in love and had children. I've transitioned with them through these major life changes. I rest in knowing that my relationships are strong and secure and will adjust to this new transition in my life.

Thank you to everyone for sharing in our joy.




Rachel Lundy said...

This is one of my favorite blog posts ever that you have written! I'm so happy for you, Emily! Thanks for sharing your love story with us. I hope and pray that it continues to grow into something even more beautiful and lovely and amazing.

Shauna said...

You are an amazing individual, Emily -- so strong, and honest -- and I'm so glad you've found someone who seems just as wonderful, and that you are so happy (even through the terror). Thank you for sharing your story!

Jan Steffensmeier said...

Happy happy happy!

Pam & Craig said...

This post made me smile - so happy for you Emily!