Something we all have; often, something we have more than one of. Some we are able to talk to a select few about, some we are only able to reveal after time, and some we take to the grave. Some we don’t acknowledge because we hope that it’ll disappear, and some that never seem to die to us.
The worst secret is the secret you keep from someone you’re in love with, the one secret that breaks your heart in the dark while you text them that you’re fine. The secret that eats away at you slowly until you break under the strain, and everything falls apart.
The worst secret, and the secret that I’ve never told to the person that I’m in love with, is that I know we will never be able to work out.
The person I met in my senior year of high school, a beautiful man who I truly saw for the first time waiting for me outside of Antonio's pizzeria. I had just turned eighteen and was on the verge of graduating high school, and he was a sophomore about to finish his spring semester at a local college.
I had been on Tinder dates before; they had all been terribly awkward and had ended with me being felt up a little more than I think I was okay with as a relatively sheltered and innocent girl. Little to say, I had never been on a second date with any of them, or anyone for that matter.
But that night changed the entire game, and I knew things would never be the same. He was too alluring, too charismatic and looked at me with eyes that I just got lost in. The way he spoke drew me in, and I found my heart racing and face getting red when he held my hand and played with my fingers.
There was a thrill whenever he touched me, there was electricity and a chemistry unlike anything I had ever experienced, to the point of me hyperventilating slightly for a couple minutes after he kissed me for the first time. He laughed hard as I clutched my heart and stared at him wide-eyed in shock, all while it was raining.
What followed was the most tumultuous year of my life; a constant battle between my atheist boyfriend and my Christian faith. A constant battle between my sexuality and my morality, between a dreamy, committed man and my sexual abstinence. One year filled with conflict, falling away from my Christian best friends and being kicked out by my Christian mother for a month and a half. A battle between the faith that saved me after my beloved dad’s suicide my freshman year of high school and the promise of marriage to the first person who truly loved me for being myself.
After all of that, that same beautiful man that I met found God, and slowly but surely, everything began to change. I started going to the university he was attending after a gap year. He got involved with my community; he loves my people, and day by day he’s growing closer to the God I love more than anything. He’s dedicated, he’s committed, and from the very first time he went out on a limb to tell me I was the girl he was going to marry only a little over a week after we met for pizza that one night, he has never changed his mind about me. Not with our religious differences, our cultural differences, our struggles, not through my PTSD or broken family.
I’m going to see him later to hang out at his apartment and act like I always do. I’m going to hold him, brush his hair from his forehead and tell him I love him. I’m going to laugh with him, poke him, talk about my day, and listen while he talks about sports. I’m going to tell him that my mom’s new biker-pastor boyfriend is coming to stay over this weekend again, and how I like him but I’m still struggling to accept the fact that she’s dating and talking about marriage. He’s going to tell me that he’s been in my position and he understands how hard it is, and that everything will be okay in the end, and that he’ll always be there for me.
And both of us will ignore the reality that he’s graduating in May, and the reality that he will probably accept an internship many hours away and may not earn enough to fly home for the holidays. We’ll ignore the fact he’s headed into a sports journalist job that will probably take him around the country and keep him extremely busy for how much he’s being paid. We’ll ignore that I’m headed toward a medical profession with the goal of doing medical missions work and helping fight child sex trafficking in southern Asia; a dangerous job that may get me killed overseas.
Sometimes we’ll dare to imagine how we could make things work, how we could make time for each other and a family; sometimes we won’t dare to try.
Sometimes I wonder if we’re keeping the same secret from each other. Sometimes I wonder if he’s so adamant about being with me because he’s in denial…
But I promised him that we would see this through, even if that means keeping this secret until it comes to pass. Even if it means falling deeper in love with someone who will disappear, even if that means more pain when the dreams I have of marrying him become impossible. Even if it means getting my heart broken worse later on, I will keep this secret until the end.
A secret that I knew from the night I met him up until now, and a secret I will know until it no longer becomes one. A secret that I live and love in spite of, because no matter our paths and destinies and God’s plan for our lives, my life will never be the same after that rainy April night I met him in front of that pizzaria’s glowing lights. To be treasured and loved so dearly by the most handsome man I had ever met after growing up never being looked at and never feeling good enough, I stand here feeling more beautiful, more confident, wiser, and more able to love than I ever imagined I could be.
And it’s all thanks to him.
So I will keep this secret until the end, because I’m in love with my beautiful best friend and the most I will ask for is to be able to make the most of what little time I have left with him.