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  • Writer's pictureStephen Hart

Growing in Love Again

I've taken some time off writing to allow my European experience to assimilate while I focused on other things. I write when I'm inspired to do so, and the inspiration hit recently as I've reached another pivotal shift in my life experience, that of growing in love again after suffering such great pain for so long.


I was unsure if the day would ever come that I could say “I love you” to someone again. In the thick of it, having lost the person I poured my love into for 7 years, it has felt daunting to find that depth again, like it was something off in the distant horizon that never seemed to get any closer. It seemed impossible.

I’ve been dating for over a year now, and I’ve met some wonderful, amazing people. Dating was a big part of my healing process, nudging my comfort zone, testing my emotional capacity, and gathering information about what I want and don’t want in a partner. I discussed this in more depth in my Dating Part 1, 2, and 3 articles from last year. Mostly it was a great experience, but at times it was really frustrating, confusing, and seemingly hopeless.

Not all that long ago, I had a thought: How in the world does anybody find anybody these days? How the hell did I ever find Karina? Back then, I didn’t know what I wanted, we just kind of fell into the relationship and it happened to work. Over the course of this year, I’ve learned so much about what I want in a partner and realized that there are so many factors that need to line up to form a loving relationship, it seemed impossible.

I need someone whom I enjoy spending time with, who shares similar values, lives a similar lifestyle, wants similar things in life, that I am attracted to, who is attracted to me, who is capable of receiving and giving love, who is at the right time in their life, that lives in the same city, that communicates well, that is firmly in her feminine and allows me to be in my masculine energy, that can love me on my worst of days, that prioritizes their spiritual growth, that is capable of managing their own emotions, that holds space for me to handle mine, and that can embrace and understand the space Karina holds in my heart. If even one of those things didn’t line up, it wouldn’t work.

It seemed impossible... until it happened.

It was a friendship turned romance, someone that I already cared for greatly that has opened up a new depth in my heart as we further deepened our connection. We had tried dating in the past, but it wasn’t the right time. I still had to discover what I wanted and find myself along the way. Eventually, everything lined up perfectly, the way it needed to, for me to find my way back into love.

To be honest, the first emotion was fear and resistance. In my life, love is tightly entangled with extreme pain. The two women I loved most in my life, my mother and my fiancee Karina, were both traumatically taken from me. Falling in love again is opening up to that pain again, the pain that I’ve spent countless hours grieving over the course of 9 years. Because, inevitably, whether by death or by choice, it will end again sometime. That is the way of life, and when you've experienced it twice, it is terrifying as fuck to face again.

As Karina and I always encouraged each other over the years, the best things in life are on the other side of fear. And the fear of loss cannot be a barrier to love if I want to live my best life. So, I had to lean in. As the fear came up, I felt it and thanked it. The fear isn’t bad, it is just trying to protect me from the pain I’ve experienced before. So I’ve had to look into that part of me and tell myself it is worth it. If I’ve survived what I’ve already been through, I can do it again if I have to. It is better to love and lose, rather than not love at all, as they say.

In a session with my therapist, she told me that, someday, there will be another person in my life that would become more important than Karina. That thought hit me like a cannonball to the chest, but ultimately, she was right. Karina and I had 7 years together, but a new partner has the potential to share decades with me, raise children with me, and spend our lives exploring the world together. I thought that was supposed to be Karina, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. This is still a hard thought for me to think, but Karina would want this for me.

My new partner, in her wisdom, has shown me that love is unlimited. That growing our love will not sacrifice any love that I hold for Karina. If anything, it is an additive process. The love I hold for Karina will enhance the love that we are building together. This understanding has brought me comfort as I’ve begun to open my heart to another.

In truth, Karina is Love now. And Love with a capital L, as I define it, is the universal energy that is in all things, the extension of Spirit that is in all of us. Therefore the love for my partner is building on, not taking away from the love I hold for Karina.

This unfolding has been a revelation for me. As my new relationship develops and deepens and the feelings grow and evolve, I am blessed with the guidance of two angels in my life, really the two people who taught me how to love in their human form, and now are Love in their energetic form.

I distinctly remember a moment with Karina, one that I will cherish forever. It was Christmas 2021 and she was in the hospital doing rather well, enough to speak freely for the first time in a month. I was feeling hopeful that things would continue to improve and I bought her a “bucket list” book of prompts for helping to plan all the things we wanted to do in life. I remember thinking, I just need to get her well enough to get on an airplane so we can do all of these things together.

When I presented the book to her, she cried. I asked her why she was crying and she said “I’m so proud of you, you finally get it.” She always said that “life needs to be lived now, tomorrow is never guaranteed”, but I was always more of a “sacrifice the now to plan for the future” kind of guy. At times, that caused some friction in our relationship and we missed some special experiences because of it. Then, when the future I planned for got ripped away and I sat there regretting not doing all of the things I put off doing with my loved one, my perspective shifted.

Living in the moment is not a new concept, but I rarely lived it. Not until Karina got sick and every second became priceless did I learn to appreciate the moment. Karina gave me the gift of presence. And now, I get a second chance. I get another opportunity to share moments with the person I love and truly appreciate them like never before. I get to travel, explore, feel, and enjoy life in love again. That is what Karina always wanted for us, and for me, and I know she is proud.

To be in love again, after all of this, is extraordinary. I am still amazed that it lined up this way, but am extremely grateful that it did. I am excited to see where it all goes, and am so happy to soak it in each day, as I continue onwards and upwards.


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