A few months later, I realized I had fallen in love with her. She was the first person I have ever really fallen in love with.
We went on trips and adventures together. We spent huge amounts of our time together. My fear was evaporating like puddles in sunlight. I was so happy. I thought she was so happy.
I told her that I loved her. She said she loved me.
More months passed.
Late in the summer, she felt "disconnected" with me.
She emotionally withdrew, but kept sending mixed signals, and we still spent time together.
I was confused, and fearful, and fumblingly tried to make things better, but they kept getting worse.
This past winter holiday season, she suddenly replaced me with half a dozen shiny new lovers.
And I finally got her to talk about it, but only a little bit. She said she thought I had "figured it out" months ago, and thus didn't think we had needed to talk about it.
And a lot of assorted additional "poly drama" happened. I was deceived and "handled", considered only so far as was I able to hurt them or drama their other "loves", and then dismissed as, at best, an annoying embarrassment to be pointedly and publicly ignored.
The first two months of this year, I felt more pain than I have ever felt ever before in my entire life, and it lasted for weeks on end.
With the help of therapy, talking with my family, and the help of the few wonderful friends I have found that I can trust, and because I have a dream job that does inspire me, I've been getting better. A little better each week.
The sage who said "It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all"... I still think that is utterly full of shit. It's just survivor selection, that the human mind is designed to have the memory of pain fade over time.
"Emotional Intelligence" and "Open Conversation about Relationships" have never been my strong points. They are, in fact, someplace where I've been pretty weak. And so the first time I fall in love, it is with someone even worse at it than I am. Fate has a sick sick sense of humor, no?