Love. It's a funny word. It can be used in so many sentences and meant in so many different ways. Some say love is what life is worth living for. Others become infuriated at the very thought, saying love is a dagger which kills unwilling hearts. But, to me, love is rare.

I have grown up in a house where the phrase "I love you" was never used. I was always told what a mistake I was, how imperfect, how foolish . . . I never knew the word "love." Love was a lie. It was hypocritical. Why say "I love you" if the result is only to be beaten senselessly and told over and over again what a disappointment one's self is? Love was indeed a merciless dagger. Nothing more than a cruel myth.

As time passed and I started changing into the girl I am, I learned so many new things and saw many different perspectives of people's lives. I was the one listening to everyone's heartaches and woes. Never did I understand the concept of falling in love with anyone, female or male. Why would one want to put their self through such torment and illusions of care? I was the one who never spoke, the self-conscious one, the rejected one. I despised the meaning of love.

But, one can only remain silent for so long. One can only hide in the dark until the small beam of light shines through the crack in the frame. No one is heartless. I never was. I couldn't stop myself from developing strong feelings toward random guys.

I hated myself. I screamed over and over again at what a fool I had become. I threw porcelain dolls against my bedroom walls, shattering the fine China faces and chipping the pale lilac paint from my walls. I screamed at my family, only to receive my tough love. Love was nothing more than more bruises and fractured bones. Another trip to the hospital was as normal as breathing in and out. I never understood why the familiar doctors would shake their heads with unspoken words written in their concerned eyes. I couldn't comprehend why their dexterous hands were so gentle and comforting as they mended my broken body time and time again. I deserved my pain. I allowed myself to became overcome by those evil, treacherous feelings and emotions. I hated myself.

Through the many years, I have come to realize the life I led was nothing more than a lie. Love was indeed real and it didn't inflict bruises or sprained limbs. Love was explained to me as the best feeling in the world, so rare and beautiful once found. The thought hit me like a bolt of lightning. Could love be something beautiful and so profound as the first snow of winter? The wonder and amazement I felt running through my veins made me know it was. I had lived a lie my entire childhood. Love wasn't a new bruise. It was . . .

I never came to know of the true beauty of love until I found the one person who turned my perspective on life completely around. He saw through the mask I wore each day to hide my feelings from the cruel world. He slowly taught me how to open up, to overcome my intense fear of becoming hurt by being my true self. He allowed me to smile genuinely. He allowed me to . . . love. He opened my eyes to the truth of life. He made me realize what I had grown up with was wrong and damaging. He showed me the meaning of true caring. He brought me out of the dark closet and introduced me to the beauty of morning's light.

Through time and many sleepless nights, I formed into the person I am today. I know what love is and have felt it's safe blanket wrapped around my tiny frame many times in my teenage life. I know there are people who can be trusted, who I can be my true self around without having to worry about being backstabbed or hurt or used. I have gone through therapy and been prescribed so much medication, the thought makes my head spin. But, I have found the true meaning of life. Life isn't about being popular or the best dressed. Life is about love. Love from those around one's self. Love given to beloved friends and that special someone. Many times my love given has been received ten fold back at me. I have known the love of friendship, of family, of closeness, and of genuine love. I have fallen in love. And I don't regret it. It may turn out that I am wrong in the near future, but for now, I am happy to be myself. I know who I am, and I know what I'm going to do tomorrow.