It is always rather fascinating to fall in love. What I have found even more fascinating is how far love can take a person away from what they originally thought to be true. I'll tell you right now, I'm a person with very high standards. Always have been. Love, relationships and marriage have always seemed highly unachievable in my family. Granted, there have been a few that have worked out rather swimmingly, but for the most part, there is a lot less swimming and unfortunate levels of drowning. Due to this, I've tried to maintain a safety net that kept me from becoming part of the majority. I've always had a list of standards that most can't live up to and because of that I've spent more time alone than I have with a companion. It wasn't until a happy coincidence and a trick of fate that I found myself shedding that safety net I'd become so fond of.

A friend of my cousin was just that - a friend. We met in 2009 and hung out a few times at family parties. I preserved a designated driver relationship with he and his friends (and most of my family for that matter) and for me, that was good enough. Jesse maintained a much more dangerous lifestyle than I had ever dappled with so on the surface it appeared that our worlds were lightyears apart - and at the time, they were. I graduated high school in May of 2011 and moved to Fort Collins for college in August of 2011. I was doing my thing and Jesse was doing his. At the end of my first year in college, I found out that my cousin had gotten into some pretty serious drug use and was spiraling out of control along with several of his friends. Jesse was a part of that group. It was disappointing to hear but more than anything I was heartbroken to hear that my cousin was traveling such a dangerous path. In either 2012 or 2013, my cousin moved to California to live with his dad in the hopes that he could work on getting clean. He and I hadn't spoken much since his drug use came to light, a decision I had to make for my own safety. It was after he had spent some time in California that we reconnected. He told me Jesse was the first of the group to get clean and that he was doing really well. He went on to tell me that he was so proud of him and that he wanted to be like him. He said that if Jesse could do it, he could do it too. I was so surprised and felt compelled to reach out to Jesse. Thinking nothing of it, I messaged Jesse on Facebook. And that was the beginning of something truly beautiful.

I reached out to Jesse in 2014 to congratulate him on his recovery and thank him for being an inspiration to my cousin. We began to converse and ended up becoming close friends. He was in a relationship and I was working toward finishing my degree at Colorado State University. We were at different points in our lives, but found something in the other that we hadn't found elsewhere. We talked about everything and nothing. We were best friends. In the middle of 2014 Jesse unfortunately relapsed and reverted back to a less than desirable lifestyle. There were a lot of issues, but we always ended up finding our way back to the other via text or Facebook message. At the end of 2014 Jesse and his then girlfriend broke up and things went from bad to worse. His using reached exponential levels and I was heartbroken. At the beginning of 2015 we had discussed the potential of us furthering our relationship, but the obstacles seemed too steep to manage. I had no idea what it would take to be in a relationship with an addict, nor did I know if I was ready for or even interested in a relationship. We finally decided to give it a try and found that the obstacles were much easier battled as a team.

Jesse decided that he wanted to try recovery again on February 22, 2015. It was a big decision and I wanted nothing more than to be supportive. I found that that was the only option when working with an addict. There is no magical cure or ultimatum that can make an addict change their ways. They have to make their own decisions each and everyday, no matter how much someone else tries to influence them. I knew this and worked hard to simply be a support system. I kept the house clean, fed whoever was at the house at the time and made sure that everyone was still living and breathing throughout the day (yes, literally). That was the first obstacle that we began to overcome and will continue to do so everyday because, as I've come to learn in my time with Jesse, recovery is a lifelong journey that has to be chosen everyday.

There have been many obstacles since the beginning of our relationship, but each has only made us stronger - as individuals and as a couple. I found that my fears of relationships and love were fair, but didn't need to be deal breakers. I could proceed with caution and build a relationship. We worked hard and often times we had to work really hard to get through the obstacles but each time we made it through, we came out with more knowledge and love than we had started with. Each time this happened I became more and more sure that this was the man I would build my life with.

Our foundation began with friendship, mutual respect and love. Rather than building a "house" on that foundation right away, we worked hard to build the framework of this house and made damn sure that we were using materials that could withstand the inevitable weather to come. It was after we had created a sturdy framework that we began to build the house that would shelter our family "until death do we part." I am a firm believer that when something is broken, every effort should be made to fix it - and marriage is far from an exception. Jesse and I entered into a marriage and with that we agreed to love and support one another no matter what. We have only begun to build this "house", however much like recovery, our relationship is an active choice everyday to love and respect one another. Everyday we choose to find the aspects that are going to work best for us as individuals, as partners, and as a family. Together we will spend our time creating a house that is stable, safe and encompassing of each of us. We are in no rush and work each day to add something else to our futures together. Today we spent time creating enough rooms for each of us to grow in and maybe tomorrow we'll decide on some drapes - regardless, each day we will work together and that's what matters most. 💙

Published by Alexandra Yearley