This is the first letter in the April Love challenge. I probably won't have one for each day of the month, but will try my best to make April memorable with a small series of letters.
It wasn't until I neared my late twenties that I realised that finding you in other people had to be a secondary thing. It had to come as a by-product of finding you in myself. Before that realisation, I was careful to play small to suit others' preferences, and having you was always conditional. After a painful crash at 24, I pulled away, determined to encase my heart in protective walls. There would be no more disappointment if no one got too close, and for a while it was freeing. There was no judgement, no box of another's making for me to fold myself into. Instead, people skirted the periphery of my life and I, like a skittishly awkward rabbit, cautiously edged around theirs, our contact limited to necessities.
But slowly it became apparent that the energy, the effort that I spent in keeping my distance was imprisoning me. I may have escaped the confinement of others' potential betrayals, but I'd created a different sort for myself. It was one that left me with a constant dull ache in my stomach, and an ever-present tension in my shoulders. I had to change my view of loving (and protecting) me: it wasn't about holding in constant remembrance those who hadn't, it was about getting to know me. Through creativity. Through solitude. Through nature. Through travel. Through animals. And when I re-directed my energy, focusing instead on this truth, I found you in a real way for the first time. With you came an appreciation for the inner strength that got me through the past heartaches and a quiet confidence that what happened was just a stone on my path. It may have slowed me down, derailing me for a little while, but ultimately it became an arrow, redirecting my journey.