Read this if you’re Afraid to Love

I was sitting at the breakfast table with my mom yesterday…one of my favorite parts of being home (getting to spend little, everyday moments with my family). But we were having some mother-daughter talk, and so naturally…the topic of my boyfriend came up.

Not in a…let’s gossip about my man…sort of way, but more of a…Caralyn, how are you enjoying being in a relationship?…kind of way.

Because let’s be honest…this is the first Christmas in a while where I’ve been ~romantically involved~. And given the fact that I’ve been away from home weathering the pandemic for the last year, this is really this first time my mom and I have had a chance to have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart since this time last year, when I was in a different place than where I am today.

And without even a second thought, I said to my mom, “Ever since [my special gentleman] has entered my life, I’ve woken up happy.

**I know, I know…cue the “awwww’s,” and the heart eye emojis. I am asking for it with that one. But to honest, I’m just telling the gosh darn truth.

I have never been happier in my life.

I was scrolling through my blog archives the other night, and I came across a post from a couple years ago titled, “3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Dating.” Interest piqued, I read through it, and yeah – everything still holds true. But it was written by a girl who was just putting her toe in the dating waters. Reading through it, now, in my present, I thought…Wow, I had no idea of what a) dating really was all about, and b) what was in store, just around the corner.

It’s no secret…if you follow my Instagram, (@beauty.beyond.bones), or if you’ve been reading between the lines on my blog, then you will know, that yes, I have a very special, very wonderful gentleman in my life. 🙂 A man who makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

But thinking about where my heart is now, verses where it was writing that original, piece, I wanted to update my list, and share what I really wish I would have known before I started dating.

So without further ado:

1) Letting someone “in” is not scary, but in fact, the most beautiful thing you will ever do.

I’m going to be honest, I avoided dating for a long time for fear of having to share my past with someone who I was emotionally attached to. Sure I went on dates, but until it got to the point of having to let someone into my past, I would either end things, or put them squarely into the “friend zone.” Having a history of anorexia in my past, I believed it disqualified me from being someone a man could love. I was tarnished, stained, broken. And therefore, if I never let anyone get close enough to me to actually learn those things, then they would never have the opportunity to reject me, and confirm my belief that it made me unlovable.

So I kept men at arm’s length. That way, I was safe. But, alone.

I wish I would have known the freedom and true joy that would come from sharing my past with the man I admire. All of my fears – of the rejection, of being unloved – it turns out that my preconceived notions were the exact opposite of reality.

And it is such a testament to this man’s heart. After letting him into my past – and all the garbage that accompanies an eating disorder, – I have never felt more seen, more loved, more known, more free.

I am free to be truly, wholehearted me. Unencumbered. Unabashedly, me.

And the other incredible thing — is that, this knowledge that I thought would be a source of judgement, and disapproval (that I thought would be the source of relationship demise) … it has actually been the most affirming thing in the world. I look at him and know that I have a teammate. Someone who is in my corner, believing in me. And choosing to care for me, knowing all of who I am.

I wish I knew how amazing that feeling would be.

2) My dietary restrictions will not be the downfall of my relationship!

Though not necessarily the most obvious thing, food is a big “player” in a relationship. Going out to eat together, date night dinners at home, sharing snacks while watching a movie…food is such a communal point of connection. I mean, dinner and a movie is a cliche for a reason: because sharing a meal with someone is a intimate thing.

And honestly, living with Ulcerative Colitis, and having to eat a very specific way in order to stay in remission — it has been a challenge as a single young woman, let alone in a relationship. Because let’s face it: the Specific Carb Diet is not the most ~dating friendly~ diet. Not being able to eat gluten, grains, sugar or dairy…poses a few obstacles. But it is how I have, in essence, cured my UC, and have stayed in remission for 11 years now.

But I had always been apprehensive about what the ramifications would be, romantically, for having to eat in this certain way. Would I have to find someone who also is in the Ulcerative Colitis community? Would I need to find someone who eats gluten free? Would a “normal eater” consider this a deal breaker? My mind would run circles.

Well, as it turns out, yet again…I was wrong on all accounts. And food has actually become quite a source of joy and FUN in our relationship!

Especially during the pandemic, when every meal has to be eaten in, it has been such a creative adventure to expand my cooking — as you may have noticed from my Wednesday night recipe posts! My favorite new palate explorations have been authentic Filipino dishes, like Kare Kare and Sinigang! (I just wish I could eat rice!)

3) The real, natural me is worth embracing.

I was so surprised when my boyfriend saw me without makeup for the first time. He looked at me and said, “Wow, you’re so beautiful.” In that moment, I think I laughed it off, but internally, that was one of kindest things he could have said.

As women, we believe that in order to be “presentable,” we have to be wearing a full face of make up – hair done, nails manicured, picture perfect. Just look at the beauty industry: we’re marketing makeup and high heels to three year olds. This standard of perfection we’ve come to expect for women is not only exhausting, but really does a number to our psyche — as we attach our worth to our outer appearance.

And sure, we’ve begun to shift our thinking around beauty, and this so-called, “body positivity…” ((this is how I really feel about that...))…but there’s still a long way to go.

I wish I would have begun the process of embracing my natural self – without makeup, curly hair, “dressed down” – much sooner. Not only do men find it more attractive, but it has been so affirming for my self worth to be known and loved for who I am on the inside, and not how well I’ve applied my winged eyeliner that morning, or how strong my makeup-setting-spray is hanging on for dear life at 10pm.

I have never felt more beautiful, or more calm or confident in my own skin, than I do now. And I have my special gentleman to thank for that.

Reading this back, and thinking about it all, my heart is just exploding in gratitude to God for bringing this man into my life. Funny, because for seven years…he had been right there the whole time, as my friend. Amazing how God works.

He has enriched my life in so many ways. And I am a better woman because of him. I pray that — even in some tiny way — I’ve been able to do the same for him, too.

So, if by chance, you’re like I was, for such a long time: afraid of letting love into your life, know that love is nothing to fear.

And in fact, it will not only be a beautiful adventure, but the greatest gift you will ever give to yourself, if you allow yourself to receive it.

Have a wonderful evening, friends. And I’ll talk to you on Wednesday, when I share a Filipino recipe, in honor of this wonderful man!

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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146 thoughts on “Read this if you’re Afraid to Love

  1. As I read this, I thought of something I saw on a pandemic themed tee-shirt today: “Love Isn’t Canceled. “

    Your helpful honesty is one of the biggest reasons I love your blog. Girl, you tell on yourself all the time, (about the good and bad) and it undoubtedly helps others.

    I’m so happy for you and your special gentleman! Actually, after reading one of your lonely sounding posts (last year), I prayed that you would find THE ONE. I know, hundreds of others were doing the same, but I was too, and that makes me proud!

    1. Hi David! Love isn’t cancelled — oh i love that! thank you my friend. gosh your words are so kind thank you. and WOW!!!! I am so touched by your prayers — they definitely worked!! you’re the best, thank you friend. i hope you’re having an amazing Christmas week!!! Hugs and love xox

      1. It’s also cool 😎 tonight to be among the first to comment; that’s not easy to do on B3!

        It’s a stay at home Christmas for us this year, but I will be FaceTime’s best friend this week! I’ve already warned my extended family. 😊

      2. hahha you’re too funny! thank you! 🙂 i think that is really really smart. Thank goodness for FaceTime! 🙂 I hope its wonderful! Enjoy a relaxing and joyful week!! It’s miracle season! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    2. I’m so happy for you Caralyn, that you have found true love and friendship in a most wonderful way, and thank you for sharing these thoughts with us. They came from a deep, happy and intimate place. Thank you for choosing to be vulnerable enough to share this, for I have found immense strength and encouragement from your words. I really enjoyed reading this and loved the quotes as well. I hope for this sort of love you’ve found to come my way, and that I’m fully ready and open to receive it when it does. Happy New Year 🎊 to you and your special gentleman😊.

      1. Oh Darazizi, you are too kind! thank you so much, that really means a lot. I’m so glad that it resonated with you! yes! being open and vulnerable is the way to be! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  2. I am very happy for you, Caralyn! Waking up truly happy sounds great.

    After 3 divorces, I consider myself all done with dating and everything else, too fearful.

    1. thank you John!!! i am definitely very grateful and happy. I don’t think your love story is finished, yet! i will be pray for you! God’s got a plan! 🙂 sending love and hugs xox

    1. aw thank you Karen!!! yes, i am so grateful for such a great man! 🙂 and same to you! Merry (early) christmas!! Hugs and love xox

  3. C! I’ve been following you for a long time and am so happy you have found true love! And he’s Filipino too! (I’m a proud Filipina) Merry Christmas! Xo

    1. Hi Anna!!! aw, yayyy!! thank you so much – that touches my heart!!! yes, I am so grateful for this amazing source of joy in my life!! I hope you have a wonderful christmas too! Maligayang Pasko! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw thank you so much!!! 🙂 Oh yes – my heart is overflowing with joy! have a wonderful christmas! Hugs and love xox

  4. Little sister in Jesus I am happy for you. A few questions- has he been properly interrogated by your dad? Does he want to move to Ohio with you if you get married? Will he help pay for my food airlifts? 🙂

    1. awww, thank you so much!! oh yes – he has met my family, and i, his. And my dad is SUCH a big fan!! You should hear him talk him up to his friends. hahah I’m not sure about that second question, but I’ll bet he’d chip in for the airlifts! He is, naturally, my best taste tester! hahah thanks for sharing in the joy with me!!! i hope oyu’re having a blessed Christmas week! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw, thank you Joy!! that really means a lot 🙂 Yes!!! I would definitely consider this a win!!! 🙂 so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

    1. oh gosh, that means so much!!! thank you, friend. Yes! I feel very blessed! God is good! I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas season! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw thank you so much Paula! I appreciate that! and yes, same to you! stay safe and healthy and have a wonderful Christmas week! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw, thank you so much Rebecca! I’m so glad that this was a bit of encouragment for you! yes! it has been the best decision of my life! i wish i had done it sooner! but then…God’s timing! 🙂 Praying for you! Hugs and love xox

  5. Caralyn! How fun to read this tonight. You’ve finally accepted all the things I and others have been trying to tell you for years. I remember telling to find the poem Delight in Disorder, which illustrates so well that you don’t have to coiffed to perfection. That someone was indeed on the way just as Julie was on the way to me.

    Tonight’s article reads to me like a valedictory at graduation or your master’s thesis in Being Caralyn. You sound like you’ve caught up to yourself and are fully Caralyn once again. Yes, we’re all a work in progress, we all need work, but you no longer sound like someone trying to catch up. For that I thank God, because, as you know, you’re like an adopted daughter to me. I’ve felt your pains and rejoiced in your triumphs.

    Here’s to many years with your boyfriend, a rich life together. And a lot more blog conversations!!!

    1. Hi Jeff!! Aw, thank you 🙂 Yes! It has been such a joyful season. It’s funny – the pandemic has been raging on, but I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been! i feel a little guilty about that ! God is good. Yes! Your advice finally hit! And boy, my heart is overflowing. Oh my gosh, that’s so sweet – a master’s thesis in Being Caralyn — haha I love it!!! Yes! I have never felt more “Caralyn” in my life! And it is so good to finally be back in my own skin. And i just have to say, you personally played a huge role in that! — Helping me and encouraging me to keep my eyes on God, focusing on His plan, and always speaking words of truth and encouragment into me! so thank you!!! Yes, I am so grateful for that 🙂 You’re an amazing friend, and I thank God for you!! thank you!! I hope you and your family are having a wonderful week as Christmas draws near! Sending a million hugs and love! xox

      1. This has been a growing process for me too! I’m happy and humbled that I’ve been of such help to you. Hillary’s birthday is today, and we went out for a b’day dinner. I remember bringing her home Christmas morning. And I wanted to say thanks for liking my Shepherds post. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Much love and many hugs to you also!

      2. Absolutely. Oh that’s so great! Happy birthday to Hillary!!! I hope you all had a fabulous night awwww so sweet! Your best Christmas present ever! Absolutely!! It was terrific!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw Tonya, thank you so much!! You’re so sweet! Yes My heart is overflowing 🥰 I hope you’re having a blessed Christmas week!! Love you, my sweet friend!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you so much Barbara!! I certainly will! Hope you have a great Christmas week! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aww thank you so much!!!! You’re so wonderful. Knowing the beautiful love that you two found, I can only pray We be so lucky! Have a beautiful Christmas week! Hugs and love xox

  6. Thank you for sharing your heart! I’m newly married and interesting enough, my wonderful hubby sent me your post. I saw myself in several areas and it reminded me to embrace the gift that God has given. Blessing to you.

    1. Thank you so much Lekeisha!! Aw that is so sweet!! Sounds like a great man!! Yes! Our blessings are overflowing that’s for sure! 🙂 congrats on your marriage!! Will be praying for you both as you start your wonderfully exciting new chapter! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Ian, that really means a lot! Same to you! Have a wonderful Christmas!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you Anna!! Yes! Im feeling so joyful these days! Have a wonderful Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  7. This is so nice! Love is beautiful, and like it’s Creator, has ways of surprising us. It’s a beautiful gift of Grace! I’m so happy for you both and may God be with you!❤️

    1. Aw thank you friend! You’re right! Love is the most beautiful! Because it’s a glimpse of God, who IS love!’ Merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you! Yes! Bursting with joy over here!! i really appreciate you sharing in the happiness with me! Hugs and love xox

  8. Absolutely wonderful post, very thought provoking and written with a raw honesty.
    Dating can be scary but it can also be fun and a really incredible journey.
    May you continue to have happiness in your life and may your relationship go from strength to strength and thank you once again for your inspiration.🤗
    May you also enjoy the Christmas and New Year celebrations and may 2021 bring you much joy and happiness.

    1. Hi friend! oh my gosh thank you so much 🙂 You’re right – an incredible journey indeed! i feel so blessed! thank you for sharing in the joy with me! merry christmas!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh wow, that is so beautiful! so touched! thank you so much Sandyman, for sharing that! have a wonderful day! Hugs and love xox

  9. Is that your ‘Special man’ in the picure above? Gosh if I were younger & a woman of course I think i would fancy him myself lol! He’s a handsome chap!

    1. Hi Kenneth! yes! that’s him!! hahahah he really is quite a handsome fella! so glad you stopped by! have a wonderful christmas! Hugs and love xox

      1. You to and your good man (whatever his name is?). We will have to make the most of Christmas as we practically go into lockdown on boxing day because they’ve descovered a fresh outbreak of Covid 19 that’s in danger of sweeping the UK

      2. Oh no!!!! I’m so sorry to hear that Kenneth. That’s such a bummer. Will definitely keep you all in my prayers!!

  10. Whoooops! Love!love!love! Soooo happy for you Caralyn xoxo..been your avid follower and almost fell off the chair after reading the word “abodo”. I’m so happy for you and finally found your “gentleman” and a Filipino, our “kabayan”. You look so lovely couple! Keep the love burning with God in your midst. Bless you! Thanks for sharing your smile and positive outlook to the world.

    1. awww thank you so much!!!! you’re too sweet! 🙂 hahah yes!!! I’m learning so much about the Filipino culture, and loving it! I feel so blessed 🙂 I appreciate you sharing in the joy with me! i hope you’re having a great morning! Maligayang Pasko! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi Cate! aw, thank you so much! that really means a lot! i appreciate you sharing in the joy with me! have a wonderful afternoon! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Tama!! Aw you’re too sweet. Yes! They were answered for sure! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Susan! That’s so kind. Yes! An answer to prayer indeed! God is good! Hugs and love xox

  11. Hi, Caralyn. More comments to come later after I read some of the links in this blog.
    Until then, I encourage you to get “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. BEST book I have read on relationships, hands down! If you would like, I have an extra copy I would love to send to you.
    yours and His,
    c.a.

    1. Thank you so much c.a! Ooh I will have to add that to my audible queue! I have love and responsibility but not love and respect!! Thanks for the recco! I can’t wait to check it out! Hugs and love xox

    1. Awww Diana, thank you so much! You are too sweet! I appreciate you sharing in the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

  12. What a gripping headline! Do you write your own? As a long-time journalist, now retired, I know that often times, a headline can be more of a challenge to write than a column or story. So, hard not to read your piece, regardless of whether one is Afraid To Live, or not. Just want to add how happy I am for you and your ‘special gentleman’! Best wishes for a happy, blessed Christmas to you and yours. God bless!

    1. Haha thank you so much! Yes I do!! And that’s so true – the titles are the hardest part! They can either make or break a piece! Haha thanks for your kindness! Merry Christmas friend! Hugs and love xox

  13. Oh, Caralyn, my heart is bursting with joy for you! I will be praying for you, your young man, and your relationship. Please pray that my daughter can find the same joy.

    1. Aw Amy! Thank you!! You’re so sweet to share in the joy with me!! And I so appreciate your prayers! Your daughter will absolutely be in mine as well. God’s got a plan!! And it will come to be at the right time: His! I fully believe that!! I hope you have a merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much, Rollie. Gosh, I am humbled by your kind words. God is good and I am so grateful for this wonderful blessing for sure. Thanks for sharing in the joy with me! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas too! Hugs and love xox

  14. AWWWWWWWWW!!!!! Tears of joy I say! TEARS OF JOYYYY! LOL! 😂😂😭😭😭🤪 I’m SO happy for you sis! Bless God and thank you Jesus! God’s timing is truly perfect! More blessings and grace to you both!! This story has truly encouraged me and to know the worth of waiting. This part really spoke to me a lot “love is nothing to fear.” God bless and keep you! 🤗

    1. Awwww!! Tammy you are just too sweet!! Thank you my friend!!! It means the world that you’d share in the joy with me. Thank you!!! Yes – God is so good and I’m very grateful for this blessing in my life 🙂 you’re right about that!!! Love is nothing to fear! God bless you too, dear drone and have a beautiful Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  15. This post brings up a lot of thoughts about what’s going on in my own life right now, I may contact you privately at some point, but for now I’ll just say that this was beautiful and I’m happy for both of you. 🙂

    1. Aw thank you so much!! Yes! That’s been the coolest part: being on a team and sharing life together. It’s been truly joyful and wonderful! He is!!! Have a wonderful Christmas! Hugs and love xox

      1. Merry Christmas to you too! Women like you – honestly – make me wish I could shave off about 30 yrs!!! But you’re already taken! Good for you.. both!!! 🤣😊😇☃️🎄🌟🛷🕯️

  16. This is so lovely, and I’m so happy for you both! I was never a hopeless romantic or believer of love at first sight, but when I met my boyfriend seven years ago I experienced exactly what you described and I felt more seen, loved, and accepted than ever before. Wishing you and your special someone all the best! <3

    1. Thank you so much! Oh gosh you’re so sweet, thank you! Wow!! What a beautiful love story the two of you share! Thanks for sharing that!! Same to you!! And have a merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  17. So happy to know that you have found someone so special that makes you happy. You know, reading your blog makes me feel like I already know you! So I’m truly happy for you. Enjoy your time with the Family! Merry Christmas!

    1. HI Michal! Oh gosh you’re too sweet, thank you so much!! yes! Isn’t it amazing how wonderful Internet connections are! i feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends like you! 🙂 I hope you have a very merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  18. And those are similar reasons to why i’m still single lol but really it’s quite difficult finding a man that would just respect your female nature and differences and cherish that and never make you feel you are lacking in a any way … 😭 really happy for you and i’m wishing you all the happiness dear~ 💕🙈

    1. Thank you for sharing your heart Yiena. Aw I appreciate your sharing in the joy with me! You’re right- good guys are hard to find, but they’re out there and worth the wait! I promise! Hugs and love xox

  19. I have been rooting for you so long reading your posts. You’re so inspiring and God uses our broken pieces to reveal His strength to encourage others.
    I needed to read this today and it made me cry. This is exactly what I needed to hear because I’ve been struggling so much and getting frustrated. Thank you for sharing this and thank you for sharing parts of your life through writing. It’s beautiful and a gift.
    I am so happy for you! 😃

    1. Oh my gosh, you are so sweet!!! Thank you so much!!! Life really is a beautiful gift, and God has a plan for all of us! For me and for you too!! They are all coming to fruiting in His perfect timing!! Thank you for such kind words. Have a very merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  20. We are all broken… that is what redemption is about, fixing what we can’t. Sounds like a Christmas theme. Enjoy time with your family (and redeeming that ginger bread house in your other blog). – Oscar

  21. You have ridiculously beautiful hair. Just saying. And you actually seem like a real person, which is an unexpected bonus. Merry Christmas, and thank you for your encouragement throughout 2019.

  22. Caralyn, that was a beautiful read! Congratulations on your relationship and finding love-the fact that he was right there. That is something I will still need to believe in God to do for me. Happy New Year wishes for the coming year.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes – I have been there! And I will be praying for you! Being open to love is honestly something I was completely terrified of, and believed I was unworthy of, but it has been truly the greatest gift ever, and I truly understand now when they say “God is love” because it is the purest most beautiful thing in the world. Praying for you!! You are worth it!! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

      1. I think it was more your quote “he was right there” that caught me and really resonated with me. I am so very happy for you. Go well for the New Year and thank you for your thoughts xox

  23. I’m delighted you found true love, and it’s lighting up your life. As someone who specializes in taking care of UC patients, it’s great to hear that you have been in remission all these years. Keep up the good work!

    1. thank you so much Jorge! it really is lighting up my life! yes! the SCD has ben such a blessing! i am so grateful! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi Hillary!! so great to hear from you!! 🙂 aw, thank you so much – I’m so glad it resonated with you! I’m telling you – letting someone else in and being open to receive love — it has completely changed my life. for the better! yes, it was totally scary, and i felt super vulnerable, but you and i both deserve to be loved!! 🙂 praying for you, friend! have a wonderful day! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you friend. Yeah, I feel you there. Authenticity isn’t always flowery and picture perfect! Hugs and love xox

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