Love: it’s only a word until someone gives it a meaning.

If you’re reading this… thanks already 

I am hoping if you’ve made it this far into my blogging endeavour (A whopping 5 posts deep)- I’ve started to win you over, and maaaybe, just maybe, you‘ve started to understand WHY I’m still here- banging away at my iPhone keyboard relentlessly finding words that can resonate with my online sisters.

You see, I refuse to push knowledge at my audience, I prefer to PULL you in. I want my writing to serve as a gift, not an “ask”, not a business, not a sell. I’m not here to overstuff and under-explain, I’m here to word-vomit my passion all over your screen and pray that my journey and knowledge can resonate with you in some way. My number one mission here is to take the things that matter deeply to me, and rebuild them inside the minds of those who have chosen to read: a mental construct you can hold on to, walk away with, and in some sense, be changed by.

This form of social interaction tends to work well for me: I talk in long form about things I love and know deeply, and others can choose to listen, or not. But, if I am continually writing about topics I have researched relentlessly and talk about daily, hitting that “post” button doesn’t seem like much risk. After all, I am here to be vulnerable and authentic. I’m a health coach posting about… health- vulnerable? Not so much.

As I’ve said before, the best currency you can offer the world comes in the form of VALUE- and as a “writer” (can I call myself that now?) I want to ensure I am providing y’all value for your time. But, perhaps, the only way to provide value, is to share the pieces of me I have already worked through? The parts of my life where my expertise can serve you in some way? But, I catch myself wondering- what about the pieces of me I’m still struggling with? What about the insecurities? The non-mastered skills? Do they deserve a place here too? 

This is why the topic I want to write about today makes me skeptical, nervous, hesitant to say the least. A topic that I am FAR from an expert in, but one I am exploring and mastering every day. A topic of which I am a daily student. A topic that cannot simply be taught through textbook, a topic that is universal, experienced and felt by every single creature on this planet in some form, but yet still causes me anxiety and immense vulnerability to share. The topic, so light and fluffy my 2 year old niece can feel it, but yet so deep and decadent even Shakespeare and Einstein became baffled: The topic: LOVE. 

I now know through experience that you can only learn love through experience. Simply put, love is just a word until someone gives it a meaning. What a twisted concept that is. I’m sure as my husband reads this he is cringing, as I’m likely to write the shit he doesn’t want to read, know, be reminded of, not mind have his wife share with her entire online audience- but I’m here to be authentic, to share my experience, to let ‘cha know there’s sunshine and rainbows and demons and dragons all rolled into one when it comes to love. Sorry babe, proceed with caution or simply skip to the final paragraphs now.

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Given that I am recently married, you’d think my knowledge on this topic would be spewing, but it was a long tough road that drove me into the arms of my Prince. Ever heard the saying “when you know, you know” – well, whoever said this, was speaking to me. Before meeting my Prince Charming I had THOUGHT I was in love, I had SAID I was in love- but in hindsight, WAS I ever in love? Did I ever KNOW love? Not even close.

The first time I said “I love you” I was in junior high school and was absolutely smitten with my first-ever boyfriend. I would ride on the front of his bicycle, burn him CDs full of love songs, attend his sporting events, sneak out of my house at midnight to cuddle him in the dark, wear his sports teams hoodies to bed and organize weekly dates at local fast-food restaurants. This lasted nearly 2 years (and in Junior High- that’s a BIG DEAL). All was butterflies and sprinkles until I received an MSN messenger conversation from a girl who “did more than kiss” with him while I attended a volleyball camp in another city. I was heartbroken, devastated, hyperventilating upset. So when he showed up at my house on his scooter to explain that “nothing actually happened”- did I kick him to the curb? Send him packing? Join forces with the other girl and get revenge? Of course not! I believed him, and spent another 2 years of my virgin life getting played by a boy who finally proclaimed, in a social studies class, in front of 30+ other students that he had “cheated on me 3 times now, so TAKE THAT”. Yup, even the teacher was so shocked at his douche-baggery she called his parents. It wasn’t until GRADE 10 that I realized I had given all of myself emotionally to this guy, and that was the end result. I was later told that, had I “put out” (aka: given away my virginity) I probably wouldn’t have been cheated on. Rough. Don’t worry though, I was dumb enough to later, in my adult life, give this fellow ANOTHER chance. SMH. Fool me once, shame on you- fool me TWICE: shame on ME. The dumbness had just began.

My second heart-break can be attributed to my own lack of self-worth. I was in grade 12, about to graduate high-school, when Bachelor 2 made his way into my life: an older, college athlete, well-spoken and extremely confident “MAN” took interest in me. He was older than I, much MUCH (overly MUCH) more experienced than I, and managed to use social media to hunt down my phone number (this was during the time where Facebook was just becoming popular). He had tattoos, and facial hair, and muscles, and did I say “experience”?. I was 17, insecure, VERY UN-experienced and continually using a fake ID to try and get into the bar so I could hang off of him like arm candy while he casually flirted with other women in front of me. All. The. Time. I convinced myself it came with the territory- after all, I was the lucky one. His confident nature and bad-boy demeanour was intriguing to me. All the girls would comment on how “hot” my boyfriend was, and all his friends would talk about how “cool” he was and how “lucky” I must be to be with HIM. And this guy, he was choosing ME? I felt so special. Chosen. Unique. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t) but because my ego and my eyes were bigger than my self worth, I ended up making a few VERY bad decisions in the name of “love” over the two years we were together. I ignored MOUNDS of red flags, gained a juvenile criminal record, participated alongside his drug and alcohol addiction, allowed myself to be physically and verbally abused, and cheated on, God knows how many times. My house gained a few new holes in the wall, 2 broken doors and crazily enough, a new bedroom roof after a drunken temper tantrum sent a Raspberry coloured Booster Juice sailing at my head. Did I finally get the self confidence to give him the boot? Did a sit-down chat with my family allow me to SEE through these behaviours? Hell no. I had to learn on my own, ‘cause love is just a word until someone gives it a meaning. And so, the dumbness continued.

I know now that my 20-year-old self believed the best way to get over someone who treated me like garbage (AKA Bachelor #2), is to fall for someone who would make me their WORLD (AKA Bachelor #3)- this sounded fantastic, until I was the ONLY thing in his world- obsessively, compulsively, relentlessly, harassingly: the only thing. After having my self-confidence drained for 2 years, when a guy walked into my life, fought for me (figuratively and literally), bought me sweet gifts and swooned over me to anyone who would listen, it felt like a safe place to invest my love. Looking back, it was over-the-top obsessive from the beginning. Some girls get a bouquet of flowers on their first date- I got 12 DOZEN of them- that’s 144 roses folks, before I even agreed to being his girlfriend. They died in 3 days. Some girls get dinner and a movie? I got a $600 blackberry 1 week into dating and a few months later: a truck (‘cause his girl MUST drive a “truck”) with thousands of dollars worth of rims and tires (I sold it for pennies a year later), I got diamonds and trips and clothes, you name it. Continual displays of affection that were not genuine nor healthy. What I DIDN’T get? Substance. I never got a compliment deeper than “you’re hot” and given that it was majorly a long-distance relationship, I got 1 week each month of “quality time”- the other 75% of the month, I was expected to be on my best behaviour, answer my text messages, and be available to FaceTime when needed. I started to realize I needed something deeper: someone who would sit and read a book with me, someone who would travel the world for adventure (not just to drink and party) someone who could communicate, listen, respond, read, write, and express. As I tip-toed softly backwards, the reigns got tighter, the obsessive behaviour heightened, he tattooed my fricken name on him, and I was trapped. Every time I tried to explain that “forever” wasn’t in the cards, the anger and temper and craziness escalated- I was playing prisoner to the relationship until the Universe finally had my back by allowing the fragments of my relationship to blow-up into smitherings within 48 hours. BOOM. It cracked away for months then fell to its demise all at once. Things ended in the most extreme fashion you could imagine. One in which I am not quite ready to share all the details, but a story you could likely write a movie script about. To summarize: the breakup required the assistance of 3 Mexican Security Guards, an airplane staff, a flight home alone across the country, a missing-persons report, multiple harassment charges, a restraining and no-contact order, the inability to live alone for an entire summer and a solid year of PTSD symptoms: but I did it. ‘Cause love is just a word until someone gives it a meaning. 

After years of unsuccessful attempts, I called it quits on dating. I took all the stress, tears and energy I had been investing into the wrong people and I invested it into myself, and in good karma fashion, that next year was one of the BEST years of my life. I graduated University with Great Distinction, I discovered Personal Development on a whole new level, I became a National Level Bikini Athlete, I saved thousands of dollars, I traveled non-stop and I opened my own health coaching business (which is still going strong: #Perfectfit4u) and after 12 months of independence and happiness, I opened myself up to go on my first REAL date since my Mexican mishap.

This date started off differently than any other- firstly because, I had asked HIM out. After “complaining” about my year-long dry spell to a girlfriend and explaining my secret crush I developed for a guy I saw at a local bar weeks prior, she pushed me to “JUST MESSAGE HIM ALREADY”- She convinced me he was a “really good guy” (and I didn’t know many of those LOL). So, in 21st century fashion, I sent him a Facebook message:

“Hey! I heard you are single, and I think you’re so cute! You should take me on a date ;)”

And guess what he said? NOTHING! He said NOTHING for 2 DAYS!

When I finally got a response, he agreed to take me on a date a week later (he was out of town)- and to the day, one week later, I woke to this message:

🌹Date tonight?”

He remembered.

That evening, I nervously sat on my couch as I watched my future husband walk towards the front door of my house. He sure was handsome. He was wearing a collared shirt, and a belt- I NEVER dated a guy who wore a belt. He knocked, saw me peering through the screen door, and smiled. I melted. I jumped up and hugged him like we’d known each other for years. He walked me to his car, opened the door FOR me (what was happening?) and drove me to a restaurant in which he already made a reservation (guys did that?), and pulled out my seat at the table (OK, I was sold). We sat and talked about things with SUBSTANCE- did we want kids? A relationship? Careers? He laid it all on the line on Day 1. He knew what he wanted. Me, on the other hand, I had no clue, but his reassurance in himself and the life he imagined was so intriguing to me. So we pressed on.

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At the end of the night, he walked me back to my house, hugged me, and began opening the door to leave. I was appalled and called him on it instantly:

“What? You’re not going to stay and make-out with me?”

He smiled and took his shoes off right away. We stayed up talking till 3AM. He didn’t get sleepover status, or more-than-make-out status for months, but he was such a damn gentleman about it, and a great kisser.

Over the next few months, the more incredible this guy became to be, the more it heightened my own insecurity about falling in love. I refused to commit to being his girlfriend. He told me he loved me, I smiled and could not conjure up the courage to verbalize myself. Every time my desire to express my feelings occurred, a rope lassoed itself to my words and pulled them back to the pit of my gut. My internal self-talk and inability to see that I deserved love ‘caused me to retreat and panic:

How did I deserve this? Could I reciprocate this type of love? Was he just a good actor? When was the crazy coming? Which other girls was he talking to? He deserved someone more mature than me! What was his hamartia? There HAD to be something wrong with him! 

This tug-o-war of feelings lasted months, but Mr. Perfect had an opportunity to leave the country and pursue his dream of playing pro-hockey and I was still Anti-commitment Sally. I couldn’t possibly keep him in the grey zone forever, I also couldn’t bare to let go of the chance that this guy COULD be my Real Life Romeo. The Universe left me with 2 options: 1) Say good-bye to Picture-Perfect Prince and let my insecurities wash me into a rabbit hole of fear OR 2) Open my arms to the potential of something great. I chose the later.

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But just because I made the decision to be his girlfriend did not mean I showed up as a well-put together package. THIS package came along with a huge FRAGILE sticker, immense amount of duck-tape and a tampered with box. Damaged goods at their finest.

Although our love story is beautiful, to tell it in full detail was not the intention of this post. So the narrative ends here. If you’ve been following along with my social media for the last 5 years, you have likely seen our love blossom and grow: we built a business, travelled the world, bought a home, a dog, planned the wedding of our dreams, you get the point. We really do rock.

What I WANT to share with anyone reading, is that my INTERNAL dialogue, the self-worth, the insecurities, the trust surrounding love- they didn’t dissipate the day I decided to commit. They lingered, and they STILL do. It’s like somewhere deep down I have this dark place of insecurity that my brain will pull from once-in-a-while when provoked by something seemingly insignificant. The trigger can flip instantaneously. All of a sudden I will go from Romeo and Juliet to Romeo and… Brittany Spears circa 2004.

Getting through my distrust with love has been WORK. I am still learning. Maybe we all are? Although negative thoughts no longer consume me daily, I still have my moments of weakness, panic, skepticism. As a married woman I STILL can receive the pounding in my chest, clammy hands and frog-in-my throat feelings more often than I probably should, even in reaction to absolutely nothing but my own thoughts. Whether this is universal to all women or just those with bandaids over their heart is unknowing to me. I know no different. I just know I’m working through it.

So when it comes to LOVE, the REAL kind, I do not believe I am an expert, I believe I am most-definitely, a lifelong learner- although my partner is hands-down the greatest teacher of all time. His patience, love and loyalty are unmatched. But, because I have managed to unpack my baggage and develop a love worth writing 3000 words about, I am confident that my journey can somehow resonate or help you. So, using my history as a baseline for knowledge, and my stellar partner as my guru, below you will find my top 3 tips for other insecure lovers looking to find that forever kinda love:

  1. If you don’t want to know: don’t ASK: Something’s are better left UNSAID: Communication is CRITICAL- but useless communication is… useless. “A wise man once said nothing at all”. Information that will piss you off (Ex. How many sexual partners have you had? Tell me all the details of your bachelor party? What was you ex like in bed? Tell me the stupid stuff you did in college?) you get my drift. Don’t fricken’ ask. If the information has no barring on your current relationship and will only serve to stir your emotions- LEAVE IT.
  2. Don’t search for problems, you will always find SOMETHING: It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you are actively LOOKING for ways to cause a fight, you will find it somewhere. Do NOT go through your partners shit. Period. If your partner refuses to give you their passwords, downloads dating apps, won’t leave their phone in your possession, or they squirm while you simply change the music on their devices- you probably got a problem. If they’re a good soul without red flags- just trust their ass and leave their stuff alone (peep Tip 3).
  3. BE CONFIDENT & Remind yourself who you’re dealing with: Your partner chose YOU for a reason. Confidence is sexy. The fact that my partner is so humble but beyond confident in our relationship is one of my absolute favourite qualities about him. When YOU are insecure, it makes your partner feel insecure ABOUT you. Own your love. Ask yourself: Would I do that to HIM? If the answer is NO- theres a pretty damn good chance he wouldn’t do it either. Trust yourself. Trust one another.

And because I am a student-of-love, if you have a tip for ME- PLEASE SHARE. If you have been in a happy, long-term, fulfilling relationship, leave some advice in the comment section and help me continue my love-studies. I think we can ALL provide advice of some sort- whether through our struggles or happy endings.

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I know that was a long one, if you found the time and energy to read the whole damn thing, please know I applaud and appreciate you immensely.

If you’re digging these blogs and want to be informed on what I write next- drop me your email and give it a follow for the future.

Until next time,

3 thoughts on “Love: it’s only a word until someone gives it a meaning.

  1. Great post! I found the first year of marriage to be tough. I got pregnant right after our wedding, and then we had a tonne of relationship testing stress after the birth of our baby. I’m kinda glad it happened that way though, I learnt early that even a great relationship comes with its struggles and you have to put in the work to make it grow! That would be my one piece of advice.
    Sometimes I’m bummed we didn’t honeymoon (due to pregnancy) but we will just have to plan a rad trip once the kids are a little older!
    Congrats on your marriage, wishing you many happy years 🙂

    Like

  2. I’ve gone through similar relationships like you have Ashlyn because well, it’s Lethbridge, and we used to ‘roll’ in the same groups of people. I am lucky enough to have found my Prince & I completely resonate with everything you’ve said. ‘Love’ is a touchy subject and we all have our demons but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Thankyou for the read!

    Like

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and leave me a comment! 💜

      I’m so happy to hear you’ve found your Happily Ever After too, you deserve it. I think the world gives you the right person when you are ready to receive them. Gotta kiss a few toads before you find your Prince 👑

      Like

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