unSEXpected: Fear of falling

We sit on a bridge overlooking the city, our feet dangling above the water. We talk about love and the ways it ruins us. He has held it twice. I have heard it spoken enough times it’s all but lost its meaning. In my head, I am writing about this moment, as it happens. I know we will both love again. Love, in all of its forms, is inevitable. But in this moment, on this bridge, its vulnerability is inconceivable to us. So, we dangle our feet and hope for better days and better love. 

In the same spot I’ve sunk into the floor and let grief hold my heart, I now stand on my tiptoes and kiss someone new. 

In my head there is a camera pointing at my eyes, looking at his lips. A screenwriter calling out my lines. The Producer is being paid to convince me nothing bad can come from this, but I’m not listening. My thoughts are somewhere in a desert, watching a prince talk to a fox who is begging to be tamed. 

One date has turned into three dates has turned into stay over and would you like some space in a drawer? And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. 

I’ve written it once and I’ll write it again: love is the easiest thing to fall into, and falling the easiest part. 

The hard part is, of course, the vulnerability of it all. The exposure to pain, to grief. The knowledge that love itself isn’t enough, and the profound understanding that no matter how much you want something to work, a goodbye can be a few wrong steps around the corner. The hard part is making things work when giving up is so much simpler, and standing your ground when giving in comes so naturally.  

I am staring love down and it feels like standing at the edge of a precipice. I am trying to take in the view, but I can’t help but remember it’s not all that long ago this site was a graveyard. 

For comfort, I start listing things.

The things I don’t know about love

  1. I don’t know how to love without hurting or getting hurt. I’m not sure that it’s even possible. No matter how kind you are, no matter how considerate, there is always potential to say the wrong thing, to make the wrong joke or laugh at the wrong time. Not all misunderstandings can be avoided. 
  2. I don’t know how to fall slowly. It seems to me by the time I realise it’s happening, I’m already all the way down, face-first into the abyss. 
  3. I don’t know how to stop loving. I’m not sure that’s a possibility. Once I love somebody, they will always hold a piece of my heart. I might not like who they become, I might not even know them anymore, but in my mind and memory, there will always be a version of them that I hold dear. 

      The things I do know about love

      1. The people I love and who love me are always willing to work through misunderstandings and miscommunications. The love I’ve experienced so far has always been larger than hurt, and the recovery has always been more important than the mistake. 
      2. When it comes to love, I rather be all in than nothing at all. I’d rather scrape my hands and knees from a high fall, than stay safe but lonely with my feet steady on solid ground. I know there’s a risk of falling in love too quickly, but in the end, at least I lived. And when I push aside my cautious fear, the rush makes me feel so giddy and hopeful, I forget I was ever worried in the first place.  
      3. Not knowing how to stop loving isn’t a bad thing. To have loved and to have been loved, will always be worth remembering. 

            I started writing this journal entry back in October of last year. It’s the last piece I tried to write before taking a little hiatus. It got a bit dark a bit quick, and I’ve come back to it time and time again wanting to edit the gloominess away. 

            Back in October, I had to learn how to love without having one foot out of the door. I had to acknowledge the baggage I carry, in full, and learn how to hold someone else’s too. And it wasn’t quite as daunting as I had made it out to be in my head. 

            Loving someone who has also loved and lost, and learned, has been so much more comforting, and rewarding, than I expected. 

            Somewhere along the line in my endless pursuit of recovery and self-betterment, last year, I developed this idea that vulnerability and trust were things I could simply practice and master, with anyone. Like a transferable skill. But it turns out I just got really good at practicing emotional honesty with strangers. It took me months to realise vulnerability was a state I’d have to consciously choose on a daily basis. 

            Allowing myself to be vulnerable and to trust my partner is a choice. I choose it despite fear of past hurt, focusing on hope and the giddiness that I still feel when they smile at me and hold me close.  

            And I have to give credit where credit is due. The choice is made easy because my partner is wonderful. I’ve never dated someone so wholeheartedly committed to the act of loving me, until him. 

            I spent a lot of time last year having conversations about intimacy and trust, and building myself back up after some heavy blows. I took my sexual and emotional wellness very seriously, firstly for myself, and secondly, for this column. I still work on myself constantly, but now I do so while building futures with someone that makes me want to be better for them, and for us. 

            The vulnerability of falling in love can be awfully frightening. But the reward of finding solid footing alongside someone you can trust, makes each step a little bit easier than the last. 

            Stay kind, stay hopeful,

            I’ll see you next month x

            unSEXpected is a Glass column dedicated to the things we learn about sex and intimacy through conversations with friends. If you have any unique, funny or interesting stories you’d like to share, please get in touch! It’s the team’s goal to make this column a fun, safe and diverse space.

            Konstanz Muller Hering
            Konstanz Muller Hering

            Konstanz (she/ they) is a Meanjin/Brisbane-based writer and QUT Creative Writing graduate. Konstanz was a Glass editor, and now contributes as an alumni.

            Articles: 24

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