I refused to look him in the eyes. I asked that question, my heart opening up a part that was ready to break if he answered negatively.
I was ready to cry, to break. I was ready to let the salty tears fall, to fall into the couch, unable to let my spine carry the weight of his words.
I was ready to crouch, to make myself smaller, to not let my weakness show.
But his answer made me.
I'd never had someone tell me they love me after a fight. I've never had someone reassure me that they aren't leaving after a disagreement. I've always stepped on eggshells around friends, family, acquaintances out of fear of being disliked, or excluded. Was this right? Probably not. I was never absolutely sure they loved me, nevertheless liked me, for who I was.
Then this man comes, my brother, that would change my life. He assures me that he's not leaving, that his love would be unconditional. That, after an argument, he's not leaving for anywhere. He assures me, that even if he gets mad and doesn't talk to me for a while, his love will still stay strong, and he'll never stop it.
For me, this was groundbreaking. I was shocked, to be said in crude terms. Someone that can still love me if I mess up? If I say something wrong? If I lash out at him and then push him away?
My mind was quite, metaphorically, blown.
We fought, it was over something I had said - but we still fought. I cried, he was honest. I questioned my motivations, he questioned my honesty. But I was scared.
I expected him to lash out, to reinforce what others have said. I expected him to tell me I'm worthless, that my mistake was unforgivable.
I expected him to copy my abuser's behavior.But none of that happened. I asked that simple question, my heart ready to break, my eyes filling with tears. 'Yes, of course. We can argue, fight, but I'll always love you,' he responded. That's when I knew that my chosen family was here to stay.