I didn't know what love was until I knew what love wasn't.
I went through different relationships.
The best friend that seemed like it just made sense-- becoming the boyfriend, the guy at the bar that my drunken self was delusional to-- becoming the boyfriend, the toxic guy that the empath in me sought out to fix-- becoming the boyfriend... I mean it when I say I went through different relationships. And each one was filled with more negative times than there were positive. I thought that being unsure whether your boyfriend cheated or not was normal... I thought that BEING cheated on several times was forgivable... I thought that yelling at me at the top of their lungs was understandable... I thought that going to sleep when things were horrible between us was okay... I just-- made a ton of excuses for those relationships, out of the fear that no one else would love me. I had a lot of fear that people would see me out of a relationship and think there was something wrong with me that I wasn't good enough to be in a relationship. I convinced myself that the love I was receiving was better than not having any love at all.
Looking back, I didn't know what I wanted or needed out of love. And some days... I definitely still don't. I think I want affection and cuddles one minute and then the next minute I feel suffocated and don't want it. I say I don't like flowers but then I wish I had flowers... WHO KNOWS I'M STILL FIGURING IT OUT OK? The standards I set for myself and love back then was a direct reflection of what I felt about myself and what I deserved.
It's not uncommon that we see couples say "I don't know what I did to deserve this (man/woman)" when they post pictures together on social media. And in past relationships I said the same thing... I convinced myself that I deserved so little out of love.
It wasn't until I started dating Max that I felt like those words were not true.
Because with every bone in my body I do deserve Max.
And it's not that I deserve Max Kutler because his name is Max Kutler, or because he is good looking, or because he is into fitness, or because aesthetically and height wise we were seriously crafted for each other...
I deserve Max because I deserve waking up in the morning to a kiss goodbye and the sentence he parts with (every... single... morning...) "I am so lucky to wake up next to you every day".
I deserve the way he comes home excited to see me (every... single... day).
I deserve his black and white thought process-- considering my thoughts are all sorts of flying colors.
I deserve the overwhelming amount of support and encouragement he gives me (every... single... day).
I deserve his strength and ability to separate emotions from facts.
I deserve the lengths he will go to to make my days the best days (every... single... day).
I deserve his calmness and ease.
I deserve his decision to put me at the top of his priority list (every... single... day).
I deserve the weird things he will say and do just to get a laugh out of me.
I deserve him.
I know what I did to deserve him. I went through every terrible argument, every heart break, every moment I doubted and questioned my self worth, every comparison I ever made to myself and another woman, every single moment. It's almost like I was collecting data on myself and what else was out there, and the standards I wanted to set.
Max deprives every fire-filled argument that I bring to the table, of the oxygen it needs to grow. He takes the extinguisher with his calmness, his level-headedness, and his rational... very black & white thinking.
I remember our first argument and how I was surprised when he didn't get in my face or try to put me down. I was surprised that no matter if it was an argument at 1am and he needed to get up at 4am for work-- he would stay up until we felt okay enough to go to sleep... and he never shut me out. I was surprised that when I brought my emotions high ready for a fight-- he would settle it with a breath in... a breath out... and words that would focus us on what was important. I was surprised that he actually came to me with a coffee in hand most days even if I said I didn't want one (he knew that wasn't true, since when don't I want coffee?!). I was surprised when he would bring me back apparel from different competitions even though I didn't ask him for anything. I was surprised that he is dedicated to his own personal growth as well as his growth to be the best partner he could be... without hesitation, he always makes an effort.
I deserve every bit of that.
That always made me kind of sad for my past self.
Knowing that I accepted the bare minimum, didn't push my happiness as a priority, and the way I receive love wasn't ever emphasized.
Max is the most calm and patient man I have ever met and everyone that knows him would attest to that. He's never the one to get emotional no matter what buttons you push, he doesn't let a bad moment engulf his entire day, he processes stress like you wouldn't believe.
He is my rock. I know that I can turn to him no matter what the day, mood, moment, whatever the case. He is my person to lean into and lean on through life.
I know what love is with max because I feel... heard.
I feel... understood.
I feel... excited.
I feel... beautiful.
I feel... appreciated.
I feel... valued.
I feel... trusted.
I feel... worthy.
I feel... prioritized.
I feel... supported.
I feel... adored.
I feel... calm.
I feel... confident.
I know what love is not because in the past I felt... not good enough.
I felt... unappreciated.
I felt... like a burden.
I felt... bored.
I felt... like a second thought.
I felt... no trust.
I felt... unsettled.
I felt... unsupported.
I felt... on the back burner.
I felt... uneasy.
I felt... unvalued.
Love, to me, is smiling and feeling excited each and every time we see each other.
Love, to me, is prioritizing each other wherever and however we can.
Love, to me, is looking at our week and saying, 'what is the best we can do to make each other feel supported and happy this week?'.
Love, to me, is feeling heard in an argument-- that 'right' or 'wrong' is not the point to prove, but a matter of making sure both parties are heard, understood, and feel good ending the argument.
Love, to me, is having the ugly cries and hard conversations no matter how much I would rather stuff them down and bite my tongue, because I know my person will stand by me until it is solved.
Love, to me, is knowing if my person says they are going to do it, they're going to do it and do it well.
Love, to me, is knowing that my person has my back and prioritizes my feelings.
Love, to me, is being in love with Max.
He doesn't hesitate or complain when I express where he could be a better person to me.
He doesn't question why I am the way that I am.
He just takes action.
He admits when he fucks up, and he apologizes when he should.
I always hope that everyone finds their own Max (not my Max, get your own lol).
Someone that they can trust, someone that they can work through the not-so-great times with, someone that they have zero doubts about, someone that they can lean on and rely on, and above all someone that makes them feel valued.
I didn't know what love was until I knew what love wasn't.
If you have your version of Max, great. I hope you continue to keep reframing what loves means and looks like to the both of you as you change through the years.
If you are questioning whether you have your version of Max or not, I hope you have the courage to speak up about what you feel is missing or what you feel could be better or where you feel you could be loved more.
Write it down.
Say it out loud.
Speak it into existence.
Make it your reality.
I deserve _____.
I deserve a love that feels _____.
I deserve a person who _____.
I deserve a life of _____.
The person that is your person, won't hesitate. They will make the effort. They might fail at times and they might not get it perfect, but they will choose you. They will choose every piece of you, every part of you that needs choosing. When you have your person and you see those consistent traits of what feels right more often than what feels wrong, hold them close and let them know as often as you can... I deserve you. I deserve this love. I deserve life with you.
I love you with my whole heart, thanks for taking on the craziest life with me, for being everything I deserve + some, and for choosing me every day.
This is life without the filter,