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Here, With You

Vintage Typewriter | The Middle: Here, With You | A book of the stories of my middle, and the constant unfolding of us

One week after our first weird, horrible, amazing, terrifying first date, I was getting ready to see Andrew again.  We’d spent the previous week doing our obsessive face time dating, and I was convinced this time would be easier.

I wouldn’t nearly have a full blown panic attack this time.  Surely.

The day leading up to the date, which would consist hanging out at my friend, Ashely’s house, was unsettling, though.  My stomach was in knots again, I was thrilled and horrified, and while I didn’t think about backing out this time, I was most certainly not okay.

Andrew felt the same way.


I met him outside and wrapped my arms around him.  Comfort.  Fear.  Shaking.

We went inside and nervously tried to replicate in person what we felt through a screen.    Why was this so hard???  What is the problem?  

We drove a few miles to pick up our dinner and had shaky conversations, comfortable but not completely at ease.  

I felt so strongly about him that I couldn’t’ get my footing.  I was drawn to him like a magnet, and yet…I almost needed to get away from him.

We ate dinner and laughed and kissed and sat close to one another, my heart thumping wildly through my chest and my fear another person in the room.  

And it hit me.  

My Soul: “I want to tell him all of who I am.  I’ll never be able to love him if I don’t.  If I cant trust him enough to tell him and if he can’t handle it.  I want to tell him the whole story.  And if I can’t, and if I don’t, this feeling is never, ever going to go away.”

My Mind: “Are you CRAZY?? No, you will not tell him everything.  No, some secrets are yours.  Some moments are your treasures, not for anyone else. “

But the problem with some treasures is this:  Some moments in time are so precious to you, or so painful to you, that they are woven into the very fabric of you.  And while you may be able to coexist with someone not knowing them, not knowing the whole you, you won’t ever be free until they do.  Free to love them.  Free to communicate openly.  And most importantly, free to let them love you back.

Because I would be in a moment floating, and in seconds, as he kissed me until I was dizzy and free, I would panic. 

Shallow breaths.  Pushing back.  Stop.  No.  I can’t.  I won’t.  Get out.

This confused the living hell out of me. 

How could I want to be here and want to run so simultaneously??  Each path pulled at me with force and grit and vigor.  

And I was spiraling.

After one of the panic moments, we laid there, on the couch, talking and trying, frustrated and scared, too vulnerable for both of us.  This was so powerful, so intense, I felt as though I might combust on the spot.  The energy around me was red hot, and I was a dancing marionette, the strings of fear and comfort pulling at my limbs.

And I was flailing.  

With no thought and with no preparation, I told him he was important to me.  And maybe the only way I would even be able to try with him would be for him to know me, all the way, for us to see how it shook out.

So I began telling him the deepest treasures.  Not all at once, but the ones that had shaped me so in the last five years.  The parts that made me want to relax into him.  The parts that made me want to run from him.

I’ve never been so vulnerable in my life.  

There were pieces of my story I knew would press on the scariest parts of his.  I knew I would trigger fear in him, in the story telling.  

But I told him.

He laid there and listened.  He looked at me.  He looked away.  He looked at me again.  

“Do you think you’re done with all that?  Do you really think you are ready?  Because I feel like this could go somewhere, I need to know if you are.  And it’s okay if you are not.”

Truth.  Acceptance.  Fear.  Equals.

His hand found mine, and we were kissing again, in the place where the mind quiets and the fears rest for just a moment, and I was him and he was me.

And then I panicked again.


And with no warning, I said,” You should probably go. I’m sorry, but I just have to take a minute.  It is too much, and I don’t know where it is coming from.”

He nodded, hugged me, understanding, but visibly frustrated.

He left and relief and sadness washed over me in tandem.  

I shut the door to my room.  I breathed in deeply and mediated and tried to center. 

And I was reeling.

Why did this feel the way it did?  My mind said, “because it’s not right.  This is too scary, too much, and you know this is not going to end well.  He’s not right for you.  You’ve been swept up before, and this feels too close.  You’ll end up alone.”

And my knowing said, “You are okay.  You are safe.  You’re in control of your choices.  You cannot see the future, but for now, you have every reason to trust him.  To see what happens next.  Just do the next best thing.  If he turns out to be a psycopath, you’ll cut ties and walk away, and you’ll be just fine.  You are ready to try.”

I texted to apologize for my abrupt ending to our night.  

Here’s the thing about finding our mirror.  You don’t get to play the games with him (or her).  You get to be laid bare, with little prompting from your mind or your choices, as you cannot help but be wholly who you are or fighting wholly who you are in the moments when they are beside you. 

You are them and they are you.

It is wonderful and terrifying and damning and redeeming.  He was an extension of me, and it was if he was wearing a sign around his neck that screamed in bold red type, “Shaunna’s Fears.  All OF THEM.”

A text dinged through.  “I understand and I want to understand your fears.  But I have my own.  I need to think tonight and we can talk in the morning.”

I found out later he was as close to running away as I.

The next morning, a text.  

“We need to talk.  We need to clear the air, and id like to before I leave for work.  Can you face time?”

I could tell he’d rested about as well as I had.  He told me all the ways my fear scared him.  While I was afraid of being loved and being so seen, he was equally afraid of my uncertainty and shakiness from one minute to the next.  I craved ease.  He craved knowing.


We talked about many things, but the long and short of it was this.

He looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said, “Look.  I’m scared too.  I’m terrified.  For me and what this could mean for me and my daughter.  But i know if we just talk to each other through the fear, we’ll honor each other and be able to get to the next step.  But in order for me to do that, to put energy and love and effort into this, I’ve got to know you can let some of these things go.  That you are done with those pieces of your life.  That you’re are doing the same thing I’m doing.

I’ve gotta know you’re with me, Shaunna.  That you are HERE, with me, in this, in us.”

And tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was afraid and I tried to breathe, but the fear didn’t leave.  It sat in my throat, screaming, as my knowing and my soul gently pushed past to make the words form from my lips,

“I’m with you.  I’m here.  With you.”