I've always been cautious about saying the three-letter phrase. So many people use it so carelessly and nonchalantly, after all; I wanted to be the one to set an example for all. I only said "I love you" to a total of two men in my life, despite having dated, seriously and casually, a whole lot more than two in my life.
It was just that.... when the 21 Year Old told me he loved me in person, shortly after he texted me all about it... it was as if the flood gates of affection had opened up. The Red Sea had parted, the doves ascended to the sky, and the L-word, that I so much feared to throw around casually, entered my vocabulary like it was my new favourite thing to say.
Yes, I said "I love you back" when he told me he loved me in person. And after that blood-coughing incident a few weeks ago, I felt even more of a need to say it, right then and there. Just in case I didn't have that much time to wait.
And I felt happy, and safe and fantastic when he wrapped his arms around me in gratitude. And since then, I've said "I love you" to the 21 Year Old probably more than I had ever said it to anyone prior to meeting him.
It feels amazing to say it. And liberating. And blissful. And all of those things that I wanted to feel but did not want to give into fully.
"I love you" is my new favourite phrase. With all the abandon that I think I deserve for once, this freedom makes me feel amazing.
Sometimes it's that someone who you would least expect to make you happy, that actually does make you feel like you're on top of the world.