Some nights I really struggle with anxiety.
I have a childhood teddy bear that I slept with every night. I took it to college, it got me through breakups, it watched me in high school, it fixed my broken heart, and even kissed my boo-boos when I was a little girl.
I've had that teddy bear for 22 years.
As I got older, I would get embarrassed because I was so close to this stuffed animal. After all, to most people, it was just a stuffed animal. But that's not all it was to me. My teddy bear represented safety, my childhood, the good days, how I got through the bad ones, and my teddy bear brought me peace. It filled my heart with love. It was my teddy bear. I felt better in its presence.
When I was growing up, I was worried. I worried for a long time that when I grew up and got married, that I would have to give up my teddy bear.
I was scared that I would have to outgrow my bear and be forced to put it away. I thought I would have to give up these things that made me, me. Maybe I would look silly to my future husband, sleeping with a bear as an adult. Maybe they would laugh at me and think I'm childish. Maybe they would get mad when I wanted to cuddle, sometimes I wanted to snuggle my teddy bear, too.
Fast forward, and I'm not embarrassed anymore. My fiance tucks me in with my teddy bear.
On the nights when my anxiety overcomes me. On the nights when I fall asleep before him. On the nights when my OCD overwhelms me. On nights when he notices my bear fell on the floor in my sleep. My fiance tucks me in with my teddy bear.
He brings me it when I cry. He brings me it when I laugh. He makes sure that I'm never "alone," even if I said I needed space. He takes care of me. He doesn't laugh at me. He doesn't demean me. He doesn't think I'm a child. He understands that it brings me comfort, and that's OK.
You see, the things I was scared of — scared he'd laugh at me, worried he would think less of me, anxious he would think I'm a stupid kid... that isn't love. Love is not demeaning. It is not laughing at what comforts your partner. It's not judging your partner.
Love is tucking in your future wife with her childhood teddy bear.
Love is accepting all of the quirks and special proclivities your partner has. Love is pushing the grocery cart for them. Love is getting you your charger when you forgot it in the bedroom. It's buying you that candy bar you said you didn't want, but were secretly dying for. Love is washing their hair because you care.
Love is accepting. Love is kind.
I think maybe love has a different meaning for everyone. Some think it's chocolates and flowers. Some think it's not real. Some wonder if love even exists. But now I know what love is. At least for me.
Love is the way I loved my teddy bear. The way it made me feel safe and calm and peaceful... and now I have a partner in life who gives me those same feelings of safety and happiness and peace, too.
Love is simply happiness. It's the joy they bring to your life. It's the way your teddy bear made you feel as a little kid. It's having a person who embodies your definition of love.
When I think of my fiance, it's like I'm giving my old bear a squeeze. I'm filled with light and love and safety and warmth.
I found a love that I never thought existed. We've been together for years, and every time I see him I get butterflies. Hearing his name makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
I found a love that sets my soul on fire. I found a love the little girl I used to be would be proud of.
I found him.
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