Once upon a time, when I least expected it, I met a boy. Fresh out of the hospital, I was still taking in the fact that I was finally home and more so, the fact that I almost died. The last thing on my mind was meeting someone and falling in love. Yet, just like that, there he was. We talked all day, every day, as if I was getting to know a new best friend. We talked about everything and my once very protective walls vanished. Here I was with my heart wide open like “Here I am! Vulnerable and raw, this is me!”…. Talk about overwhelming. I was excited and scared and intrigued all at once. Yet somehow, it felt safe. That being said, we decided to go on a first date once I was able. He met me on the steps with a hug and said “You’re really here!”. I was smitten. We dated for a few weeks, cooking dinner together and having movie nights. Then one day, he had to leave. I understood the situation, why he was leaving and all, and spent the next few weeks patiently praying to God every day that he would guide me through it. And one day, after spending some time with my family, I looked at my phone to see 4 texts from him. We texted a few and agreed to talk in person over takeout that night. And I will never forget seeing his truck pull in and my dog going crazy with excitement. My heart felt like it was going to explode. We talked for hours. All the while I was praying for God to guide me through the conversation. Why? Because I’m a people pleaser. My “go to” is simply “Yay! You’re back! Let’s pretend nothing ever happened!” And if it’s not that, then it’s arms crossed and walls up. But I had never been this way with him and I didn’t want to start now. Despite what I was about to hear and feel, I wanted to remain open. I owed it to the both of us. And I owed it to myself to have a voice and be honest about how I felt. I don’t think the conversation was easy for either of us, but we did it. And I will never forget the moment when he told me he prayed about it every day. It hit me that we were both praying about each other. I silently thanked God because I knew in that moment that I was in the right place by being here and being with him. I knew that this situation was an opportunity for me to learn and to grow. And I became the girl who once shut herself down but now remained open. And instead of jumping at the opportunity to react every time he stopped talking, I simply listened. For the first time in my life, when I did speak, I spoke from the heart. And that for me is magical in itself because I realized I am used to coming from a place of fear. Worried about saying the wrong thing and making the situation worse or making someone leave. But here I was, sure footed and honest. Speaking from a place of love and feeling completely safe to do so. I felt peaceful and proud of myself. And I knew that no matter what happened next, it was going to be okay. In the end, I like to think this story has a happy ending as we’re both excited to see where the future takes us. For now, I will take every day as it comes with an open, smitten heart and an optimistic mind.