I wish he knew me before I was damaged. I wish he had met me when I still believed in love stories and happily-ever-after – when I wasn’t jaded or bitter or calloused. I wish he could have known me when I loved without restraint, without holding back or guarding my heart. I wish I hadn’t given that part of myself to others or wasted it on the undeserving. I wish he could have known me before the wounds and hurts and heartaches overtook me; before the disappointments and let downs; before the abuse and neglect and rape. I wish he had known me before all this, when I wouldn’t have held back or demanded timelines or been harsh and unyielding. I wish he could see that I want to give him that, but I’m too scared. When he holds me in the night and soothes me and caresses me and my anxieties leave, I lean against his chest – my head upon his heart – and I know this is it. He is my epic love story and I am sabotaging it. I am giving him a hard time because I’m frightened he will not be true to his word – just like the others. Just like the others I am convinced he will mess me around, make me wait for nothing, damage me more. I am convinced in his difficult situation that we, that I, will not survive. I let it come between us because I cannot fight it. Instead I feel like I am fighting him – the one who loves me. He is paying for the sins of the ones who came before him. I wish I could look at him and tell him: I know. My heart knows. I have never been loved this way before. I love him so fiercely it terrifies me. I love his children and the family we have become. When I am not trying to run, I am happier than I have ever been before. When he holds me in the middle of the night as I cry in distress, conflicted, I know I am safe here. I need to remember that moment in all the other moments that overwhelm me.