Hi!  If you’d like to start and read The Middle in sequential order, start here! This book is written wildly, chapters out of order in the sequence they occurred in my life.  They are written wildly for a reason.  The middle of our lives is a lot of things, but it is most certainly wild.

The Middle | Face Time I Love You's | Perfectly Imperfect | Shaunna West | memoir

Face Time I Love You’s

The first time Andrew told me he loved me we had been face timing for 3 weeks, and had been on 2 dates, one of which nearly resulted in our ending.


The only way I can try to describe those first few months of our relationship, is to use Andrew’s words.  It was a rollercoaster.  Moment to moment shifting momentum.  Back and forth between the utter excitement of the climb to the part where you crest the top as you think inside your head, “I shouldn’t have done this,” while simultaneously feeling like you’re going to vomit.  

My insides were my outsides.  My outsides were somewhere else.  My mind and my soul couldn’t quite line up.  I was happy, really happy, when I was with him.  But none of it made sense.  I would vacillate back and forth between moments of utter joy with him and utter fear.  There was no way for me to predict how I would feel from one day to the next.  One morning I would wake thinking, this is my person, and by the afternoon, I would be ready to run for the hills. 

Our face time talks, though, were gold.  While I would feel confronted with fear or become unnerved in person, our conversations there were slow and long and easy.  And Kissing him…that was an entirely out of body experience in and of itself.  Kissing him felt like returning to my home, and my self, my very truest self, could not help but rapidly spill forth.  I was unequivocally, me, with him.

He is, to date, the human I have shared most with.

So on one morning, as I did the mind/soul dance, I was talking to myself, out loud while I folded the laundry.  Ahem.

Mind me: “I don’t know if I can do this.  This just feels too much.  I just feel too much.  There is no way this is okay.  There is no way you are ready for this.  

Soul me:  “But why would you not be ready?  You’ve done nothing but love yourself for years now, done nothing but try to take one step at a time, one foot in front of another towards healing, knowing if something came along, you’d be ready.”

Mind me:  “blah blah blah blah blah”

Soul me:  “well, you love him already so I don’t know what you’re worried about.  It’s already done. Just enjoy it and you’ll know if it’s going to blow up.”

Dropping the t shirt I was folding, I slapped my hand over my own mouth so hard it stung.

Isn’t it funny how STRONG our minds are??

I didn’t speak anymore out loud to myself.  I stilled.  And I looked out my bedroom window at the trees swaying in the wind, a view I’d come to be quite familiar with, having so many quiet moments to myself over the last four years.

And even though I didn’t speak, the knowing inside of me did.

Yes.  You love him already.

And a slight smile spread over my face as I picked up the t-shirt, folding it properly this time.


That night, we hopped on to face time around 9 pm, after all the kids were in bed.

The photos I have saved during our Face time dating are ridiculous.  The screen connects.  And we would smile these long, slow smiles.  You know the ones.  The ones where your muscles literally know that you’re in love and widen accordingly.  We only smile like this for the one we love.

And that night we talked about anything and everything.  The really hard stuff happening in my world.  I had just told him I had a damn tumor in my head that week, and he’d been oddly fascinated and intrigued instead of scared off.  We talked about that and we talked about our children and all we hoped for them.  All of the little hurts they shouldn’t be facing so young.  We would laugh for hours on end.  About silliness.  And then would one of us would freeze a little.  It would hit us.

This is it.  This is a big, big, damn deal.

I know you.  I’ve always known you.  I see you.  I’ve always seen you.  You are mine.  I’m yours.

And that night, he did it first.

He got serious and then smiled softly, and said, “I just love talking to you.  I love your smile and your eyes and your hair and your laugh.  I love your face, I just love you.”

Complete horror washed over his face.  And what came next was, well, priceless.  This grown, self-assured, hairy Navy veteran hid under his covers.  From under the brown quilt, he apologized profusely.  

And I tried to assure him that it was just fine, but inside my mind was reeling.  See?????? Too much, too soon, too fast, too much, too much, too much.  And when his eyes peered over the top of the covers, my soul stepped out of my mouth, and said, You know I love you back, right?

Don’t forget what we’ve said about the mind.  It has a job.  But it needs a soul.

Love is soul work.  Love is inside-knowing work.

Love is for mind and body and heart, and wrapped up softly in soul.

He looked at me, grinned that slow long smile once again, and said, “Good.”


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