Armor-ous, my lover, my protector. She embraced and cocooned me in her loyal, loving arms. She dedicated all of her might and passion, her entire being, just to keep me shielded and unscathed by any whose presence alone dared to hurt me. It was so easy to unknowingly slip into the seductively warm comfort of her ever-doting and irresistible hug; a tightly woven wool blanket on a cold winter’s night.

But as soft and cozy as she felt securely nestled from the inside, was as hard and cold to the world outside. From the eyes of others, she was truly a knight in shining armor. So bound we were, that she was me and I was her. Where did I end and she begin? Where did she even come from and when did she wrap herself around me?

Who knows, but how lucky could I be? She was flawlessly created with remarkable intellect. Indeed, she was birthed with one purpose, and one purpose only—to keep me protected so no arrow of pain could pierce my already tender, wounded heart. She recognized even before I did, that enough was enough. If any arrow somehow succeeded in finding a way through her, she instinctively knew how to absorb the impact, and gratefully preserve me from feeling the agony of the new hole in my heart. That not being enough, she’d seamlessly fortify herself with yet another layer of her oh-so-loving almost impermeable steel; imperative, it was, to close the new weak spot exposed. Never more!

Armor-ous was so kind and thoughtful that she regularly brought me flowers of every possible kind. They were imbued with all different scents, colors, shapes, and sizes, magnetizing one’s gaze and senses; a glorious palate to inhale and captivate. But one feature was ever present. Hidden between the sweet innocent petals, each flower deceptively held thorns so sharp that they could easily lacerate the unsuspecting.

The thorns knew precisely how, when, and where the hole in the fabric of the other could be found. They had the uncanny sense of recognizing exactly when it was time to release it’s magic with their “break you into pieces” sharp tips of toxin. Yes, my loving Armor-ous’ bouquets were yet another way to secure my delicate heart.

My heart was so enamored with Armor-ous! Until…

Until a day came when some other that had to be from beyond this world managed to get through her. She was no match for Divine.

Subtly at first, Divine found the perfect opportunities to whisper soft words in my ears. It was his way of stealthily and gently sneaking through Armor-ous. Soon, his voice started becoming a little louder and more frequent until at long last, he finally caught my attention. I could no longer ignore him. I could no longer send his words into the vast void of nothingness.

I began to listen. Listening turned into clandestine conversations—in the mornings, in the middle of the day, at night before closing my eyes. I felt like I was having a secret love affair with Divine. And then, for the first time, I began to notice a little sense of me that was separate from Armor-ous. What? Could this really be?

Divine was persistent, eventually getting bolder with what he wished for and could give me. If I wanted to allow the pure love into my life that he steadfastly offered, I would have to decide to let Armour-ous go. I resisted. Why should I believe Divine? What if he’s wrong? And does he not know just how devoted she has been to me? How much she has cared for me? Protected me? Loved me?

As our togetherness grew, Divine sagely gave me random tastes of that sweet nectar of pure love; strangely, quite different than the love that Armor-ous provided. It was indeed, a flavor of sweet unknown to me— enough to entice me to desire more, but not enough yet to convince me to let go of my love.

One day, perhaps because I would not budge, Divine sat me down. It was now time for a heart to heart. This, I was not ready for. I was completely blind sided by what was to come. He excruciatingly enlightened me on a bitter pill I had to swallow. My eyes were opened to what the thorns had done. I had inflicted hurt, harm, and pain onto others—exactly what Armor-ous had been protecting me from.

I felt no greater torment than I did that day when Divine revealed this ugly truth to me. The horror of the trail of destruction I caused crushed every inch and every cell within me. The weight of Mount Everest collapsed on me, pushing me right through to the other side of earth. Even Armor-ous could not squelch this unknown agonizing ordeal or put another layer on. My heart that she long sought to protect was ripped right open to its core. I fell to the ground, my body writhing as my entire insides exploded. I screamed. I yelled. I wailed. Over and over and over until I went limp, exhausted, a voice no more. This is what it took.

And so, I decided. It was time to take a leap of faith. I was ready to experience life differently, to embrace a new journey to the pinnacle of love and joy; no longer led from fear of painful arrows; no longer delivering the very thing I sought to avoid. Now or never, I must talk with my long loyal love.

I breathed out a seemingly endless deep sigh. That lone breath held infinite amounts of conflicting emotions: Gratefulness, sadness, grief, happiness, loneliness, emptiness, peacefulness, longing, heartbreak, confusion, hope, contempt, resolve.

As the devoted lover she was, Amor-ous listened intently to everything I had to say. It was near impossible for her to fathom the possibility that this new person, Divine, was here, not to hurt or harm me in any way, but to fill my heart and my soul with unrequited, unconditional LOVE. She clung to me, resisting with every breath she had. She knew no other life than with me. I was the lucky one that had mercifully, at least had a glimpse of one without her.

As we kept talking, I told her how grateful I was for all that she had done. I needed her for that time, but now, I was ready to head in a different place where she would not belong. I expressed how much I would always love her and that if not for her, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today. That seemed to be music to her ears and the song she needed to hear. It was of dire importance to her to know that I recognized that what she had done came from how she knew to love. With all of my might and passion, I hugged her as tightly as I could, and reassured her with all the stars in the sky as my witness, that I did. I do. And with a long, loving, knowing embrace, we finally said goodbye.

As the days, weeks, and months creep by, sometimes, I feel like Armor-ous is still with me, especially in those moments when fear creeps in. Sometimes, I think I catch a glimpse of her shadow. Sometimes, I still instinctively reach out for her. But thankfully, Divine always shows up in time to grab my hand and hold me back from returning to her. And though this new relationship comes with its own ups and downs, my cup has been filled enough to remain resolved to embrace and experience this very different, but very sweet nectar of pure love.

-Lisa Aranas, JD, LCPC