This month has been so painful and difficult. Truly…I’ve now got something this month has waiting for me tomorrow, when it’s not even this month anymore (more on that later).

This has led to me having a lot of things I want to write about, and while those other matters are important…this one takes precedence. The simple reason for this is…something has happened that I never thought would. Alternatively, I didn’t expect it to happen the way it is, nor as soon as it is happening.

This is probably a super weird topic to write about on Halloween, but whatever; it’s something that scares most victims/survivors of abuse, so I guess it fits (insert spooky lightning here).

So, let’s talk about relationships, specifically the romantic kind.

Are you scared yet? Because I sure am.

I don’t remember if I wrote about this here or not, but I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’d been asked out (and propositioned to) before, but apart from one or two really awkward dates, I’ve not met anyone I wanted to date/marry.

The closest I got to that sort of thing was when I’d see a very handsome/intelligent someone, and admire him, not unlike the schoolgirl crush. Those crushes usually didn’t last too long, though, and as I grew more as an artist, I started to see it more like appreciating beautiful things in nature, like trees or mountains. There’d been embarrassing occasions when I had confusing thoughts/feelings for guys who had a helping role in my life, especially if I’d opened up to them about my abuse and/or my feelings, though in time I recognized its links to my abuse, and all the confusion that wrought; those, too, were overcome as I healed and learned, and I can easily laugh them off.

So no, I’ve had next to no experience in anything under the category of “romantic love”.

Then in comes this guy.

This guy, like other guys, has expressed an interest in me. He’s in the appropriate age range, and is sweet…I almost want to say sometimes “charming”. He’s not the type I expected to be someone I’d be attracted to, but then, I didn’t have too clear an idea of what sort of man was “my type” apart from the little girl notion every girl has of wanting to marry a man like her father since children learn what romantic love looks like from their parents (and that’s something I want to run as far away from as I possibly can!).

Of course he isn’t perfect; there are things he’s struggling with himself on top of recovering from an abusive relationship; he’s on that healing journey like I am. He’s not Catholic, probably not Christian, but there’s a light there I can see. He even has expressed a wish to be there for me in whatever way I’d want him to be, be it a friend or a boyfriend (and isn’t that just the craziest thing I’d ever heard?)

So…this and other things have brought me to very uncharted territory: reciprocating the attraction.

Now, I don’t know if it’s for unhealthy reasons or not. Most experiences I’ve had to anything in the category of “attraction” were when I’m reminded of my abuse and/or my father, as stated above. He doesn’t look or act like any of my abusers, though, and while he shared things about himself, it wasn’t manipulated or forced onto me. I sensed that about him, and he opened up. I asked, he answered. What I’ve seen of his heart so far, it’s been mostly good… and that’s almost more frightening than if I saw something there I didn’t like.

I’m scared. I’m lost. I don’t know what this all means. I don’t know where this could be going.

All I have going for me so far was that, towards the start, I said a prayer putting it in God’s hands. I’m not sure why He introduced this guy into my life at this time (especially at this time). I also thought it smart to have some boundaries, let him know that I’m not really looking to date right now, and he respected that. I briefly and very generally touched on why, and he respected that, too. When he learned I was Catholic, I half-joked whether he’d think less of me, to which he replied in all seriousness, “I’m not that guy.” That’s probably the most attractive thing about him; he’s the most respectful man I’d met (who’s also “available”).

…I know attraction isn’t love.

Attraction is something that happens, like emotional love, to (hopefully) encourage the decision to love. I know attraction can, too, be twisted by one’s wounds; my parents are the prime example of this. My mother married the handsomest man she met, and my father married the prettiest woman he met. Look what happened with them; in big ways, they married complete strangers, turned to abuse instead of healing, and they only grew further apart. Their marriage darkened their hearts, encouraging abuse instead of love between the two of them, to me, to their family, and the world in general.

I don’t want that, for neither one of us.

So…what do I do?

That’s how I’ve been feeling about it the whole time, this confusion mingled with fear. A very small part of me wants to thank God that I can even have any sort of attraction for another person after everything that’s happened to me. At the same time, I don’t know what to do with it.

What’s worse is when my thoughts go way too far into the future, with the possibility of marriage and…all that entails. Any of those feelings, of course, gets mingled with those concerning my abuse history, making me all the more afraid. Part of me realizes it’s silly, though; we’re not even dating, and I’m already thinking of marriage. Granted, I’ve been taught (not by my parents; from more reputable people) that one should date with marriage in mind, asking oneself, “Is this someone I can see myself married to one day?” That leads to other confusions that I plan to address with my doctor tomorrow.

…It’s not all confusion and fear, though. I’d had some reasons for hope, too.

One of those things are the thoughts I have for his wellbeing. I’d worry about his health and happiness, and would pray for him. I’d wonder if he’s the right man for me, and if I’m the right girl for him. I’d pray that if God does want us to be together at some point, that He heal us, and help us become the best person for the other (or either way, that He helps him be that man I can see he wants to be).

I don’t imagine him being opposed to my praying for him, in my wishing him well the best way I know how. In a way, maybe it could be said that he’s also “praying” for me in the sense that he wishes me well, too. He’s also shown a deep concern for what I’m going through, what little of it I shared with him.

That’s a step beyond attraction, I realize…and into the category of Love, willing the good for the other person. The impossible has been eliminated, and the truth, however improbable, is present, if even a little.

Again, I’ve no idea where this is all going to go. It could indeed go further from here, or alternatively, I’ll just have met a living, breathing example of a gentleman being attracted to me for once. If nothing else, I’ve learned that “romantic love” is possible for me, even in my current state…and that’s definitely cause for hope.

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