The Illusion of Safety

A lover asked me recently if I need to feel safe to fall in love. I answered immediately that yes, I did. I was thinking about being in love with the men and women I have loved in my life, and how safety never entered my mind then – I simply fell in love, and what came after, came after. Sometimes it was heartbreak, sometimes it was a slow, gentle slide into love-that-was-more-friendship, sometimes it turned out to be a brief, intense flame that could not survive its own heat. But still, I never had regret, I never looked back and said, “I wish I’d been more cautious,” and I never hesitated to take the leap next time.

I love much, I love often, I love with abandon, and usually without thought to the consequences.

And then came Warren. Three months into what was supposed to be a “playpartners only” relationship, I could hold back no longer, although I knew he didn’t want to love me. “I love you,” I said. And when he drew back slightly I put a hand on his arm. “It’s okay, you don’t have to love me back. Honest. But it doesn’t change how I feel about you. I just want you to know that.” It was the same with my submission to him. He wanted a bottom, a fucktoy; I became his submissive. It wasn’t a choice, it wasn’t something I was cautious about or thought through. It just was.

When he died, I felt that a part of me had died too. The part that felt – truly believed – that love was worth it. That loving without fear was a sane thing to do. That giving myself so freely, so deeply, to another would be worth the pain if it ended. Because I never thought “the end” would happen the way it did. In such a brutal, unforeseen way. I thought he’d grow tired of me, or I of him; I thought we’d grow old together and I’d end up caring for him finally; or I thought the end would be a long time coming during which we would have days and weeks and months and years to come to terms with it. Of course that’s ridiculous, but I truly believed it on some level.

His death shattered me. Utterly and completely. I thought I would never, ever be whole again. And maybe I won’t. Maybe I will always live with this ghost that is my love for him, that is the pain that comes upon me unexpectedly, at the oddest moments, that hollows me out and turns my world into a dark place that I wish I had the courage to leave.  And nothing – *nothing* – could ever could be worth the pain that I felt. Nothing would ever be worth living a life of uncertainty again. Because that is what his death showed me: there is no safety. The unknown is out there, stalking us, all the time. Waiting to shatter our hearts, our dreams, our lives. And I just wasn’t going to take that chance again.

Except that I have. And I have accepted uncertainty. And I have learned – or am learning – to accept the unknowable. To live with it by my side.

“Nothing is forever,” he used to say. “And that’s okay.  Because what we have now is *now*, and that’s enough.”

I don’t know if that is true. Is “today” enough? Is it possible to simply accept the now and not try to know the unknowable?

I don’t know where my life and these newly awakened feelings will lead, or how long they will be here. I do know that loving Warren – no matter how it ended – yes, *was* worth it. It was worth living with a ghost, with a hole in my heart, with the knowledge that I could have prevented it, just by not loving him as fiercely as I did.  And I am glad that I did *not* fear love.

I was wrong when I said I needed safety to fall in love. I know without a doubt that there is no safety, no certainty – but I’m okay with that.

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