Bare-bottomed, lying face down on a paper covered bed in a clinic in Costa Rica.
Isn’t this how all good stories start? And you might be askingyourself…“what does this have to do with love?”
Over the last 5 days I had developed a severely painful abscess in the – wouldn’t you know my luck? – upper crack of my butt. It had happened once before three years ago, and I prayed that it would never happen again. But it did. While living in the jungle. In Costa Rica.
No matter how much I planned, and prepared, or how many lists I made, I could not have prepared myself for this hell.
I cried the morning I figured out what the discomfort in my backside was. I woke up early to the sound of the howler monkeys and thought to myself “why does my butt feel so weird?” And then it dawned on me. The pain was so awful that I couldn’t sit for days. There was multiple doctor appointments, antibiotics, pain-killers…all of it. It was bad enough when it happened in the States where my cool-ass, female doctor who I have had for years would have kind of laughed with me through the pain of the procedure.
But this time I was in the jungle. In a foreign country. Where I only kinda speak the language (I’m trying!)
I was freaking the fuck out.
However, this time something was different. I had Danny. My boyfriend of 2 1/2 years.
From the moment I started crying with my mind spinning of all of my fears of what could go wrong, he has been my rock.
The first day, he walked an hour into town in hell-hot-heat to talk to the doctor at the clinic, and pick up pain meds and food.
After that, he made me wonderful meals every day from scratch.
He cleaned up after the “Kira Tornado” that seems to leave a trail of pillows, computer cords, crackers, and glasses everywhere I go; dispensed whatever drugs I needed at whatever time; rubbed my feet every night (which I will admit he does regularly).
At the end of the day, he has taken total care of me. Doing everything to make me as comfortable as I could be during this mild medical shitshow in the jungle.
And yesterday, when he held my hand as I cried out in pain in the clinic, soothing me, sweetly pushing the hair out of my face, telling me to squeeze his hand harder if I needed to…I just cried a little bit of happiness.
This was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I smiled through the tears because my heart was full. I felt true, real, unconditional love.
It makes me laugh now as I think that I spent so much of my life being the super-awesome, independent woman who didn’t need anything from anyone. I could do it all myself. Asking for help from anyone felt weak. Why would I want to do that?
My understanding of love had to do with perfect romantic moments in my mind like a montage in a romantic comedy. And none of those moments had me being anything less than super-awesome, funny, and adorable at all times.
The thought of someone loving me through the really, really rough (and pretty gross times) didn’t even compute. If I had weaknesses, well I would just hide that shit. Because no one wants to love that, right?
But that is not love. That is two people playing relationship. Like two ten-year olds playing Barbie Dream House.
Because what no one tells you is: you can’t love perfect. No matter how hard you try. Love lies in the imperfections and vulnerabilities that we bring with us. Only then can people show up and bring compassion, trust, kindness and love.
Now I know what real love looks like. Like two flawed, imperfect people choosing to be with each other every day.
In only 2 1/2 years, Danny and I have loved each other through a move to a foreign country (and now a move back to Wisconsin), rehab, parent illnesses, my health journey, the ups and downs of owning a business, dog emergencies, opposite schedules, terrible jobs and yes, even a butt abscess.
And these tough moments, that bring hard conversations, tears, honesty, trust,..that is where the love gets better. The connection deeper. This vulnerable place is where we get stronger as a couple. It did not fall into our laps, we built this.
So as you move through your days, do people know how to be great for you? Care for you? Love you?
Looking to learn how to be more vulnerable and build a relationship like this? Join me for the next Owner’s Manual Class! Clarity on who you are, what you need and how to ask for it to build strong, beautiful relationships.