You can love many people.
You can, over time, be IN love with more than one person.
You can be madly, irrevocably, in love with someone. SO much so that you cannot breathe without them, can’t think when they are near, and can’t seem to bring yourself to function or to care when they are not there.
And then you can find someone who loves you, who makes you feel like you are worthy of love. Someone who makes you love yourself.
And there’s the difference.

I loved B so much – too much. It burnt brighter than anything in my life ever had, scorching through the darkness. But it was scalding, and all-consuming, and it couldn’t carry on forever. Eventually it burnt out, destroyed itself.
And it left me broken. Burnt.
It ached, and twisted, and try as I might, I couldn’t seem to stop from picking at the scars; I couldn’t simply let it go because it was the best, and the worst, and the first something to mean anything.
I know, now, that I will never love anything, anyone, like I loved him. I won’t ever fall headlong into an ocean; I will never again be both unable and unwilling to drag myself to the surface, to break the spell cast by promises of love.
I won’t ever love so freely, so eagerly, and so fully – I can’t let myself be consumed by love, again.
I will never love as naively, as purely, as I did then.

And then there was D.
Who made me laugh, and stopped me from crying, and who stopped the voices in my mind from calling out to me, from ensnaring me. He calmed me down, and brought me back to earth, and kept me safe. He kept me safe and wouldn’t let anything hurt me, even myself .
And he was like a drug; the more time I spent with him, the harder it seemed to be apart.
If he was the drug, then I was the addict – risking everything, doing anything, to get my fix. To keep him close.  This newfound need for affection (for him) made me selfish.
It was a different kind of love, the slow-burning, comfortable heat of a fire on a winters night as opposed to the destructive flames of an explosion.
It was the kind of love that kept me smiling, knowing that I had someone to catch me, rather than sending me hurtling off cliffs, without a second’s consideration that it will probably result in my falling to my doom.

And as for whoever comes next?
I don’t know how I will love them – sometimes I don’t even think I will be able to love anyone again.
(Sometimes I hope I won’t.)
I like to think that they will be somewhere inbetween my two former loves – the perfect shade of grey. I like to hope that they will make me feel safe, and calm, and cherished. That they will also make me want to be reckless and take risks and be alive.