What Do You Know About Love?
I was recently asked to write about love. The thought of it made me cringe.
“You're in it, in love, and not everyone gets to experience that,” my inspiring neighbor and fellow writer said to me.
I simply couldn't help but reply with an unnecessarily bashful response, stuttering over the words that tried to form sentences of why in fact I did not want to write about love.
I have vivid memories of 19 to 22 year old me, heartbroken over the most recent break-up and coping with my feelings through blasting my usual sad girl mix-tape, with music ranging from Rilo Kiley's “Breaking Up” and A Fine Frenzy's “Almost Lover” to Sarah Bareilles' “Love Song,” where she refuses to sing about love when told she needed to in order to make it big in modern society's music scene. I remember standing in front of my full-length mirror, tears streaming like waterfalls from my tired, turquoise eyes as I reenact my high school moments of Sandra Dee's lamentation of being “Hopelessly Devoted” to the wrong you, followed by my own interpretation of Queen's “Somebody to Love” with red, swollen eyes of heartache quickly growing into an empowering anger; fed up with notions of story-book love I've been trying so hard to believe in as I belt into my reflection, microphone-hairbush in hand, screaming lyrics into the universe from the deepest pit of my heart “CAN ANYNODY FIND ME SOMEBODY TO LOVE?”
When I first met my now husband, I wanted nothing to do with love. When we started dating, I wanted nothing to do with love. When I decided to leave him because my guarded heart was still hidden by the iron armor I fashioned for myself over my years as an independent woman to stay safe from the inflicting pain of brokenheartedness, I wanted nothing to do with love. However, when I literally cried on my best friends shoulder for an entire 24 hours after the break-up, only to agree to meet with him later to give him the much deserved reasoning of why I didn't want to be in a relationship with him, I realized that maybe, just maybe, deep in the dwellings of my iron-hidden heart, I might actually be, for once, on the right path to love.
When I think of love, especially this time of year, I think of the ooey-gooey, romantic, over-the-top, commercialized version of love that our culture has instilled in our minds and hearts throughout the years. Candy hearts and boxes of chocolates, gaudy jewelry and a dozen roses to make up for each rose you forgot to give her for every month of the past year. Then of course, I am reminded of the story of St. Valentine, performing marriages when marriage was outlawed as well as Lupercalia, the historical pagan festival of fertility that falls around this time of year. This festival is known for its tradition of blood and gore through smearing the blood-drenched hides of sacrificial animals on women and crops alike, symbolizing fertility and purification. As messed up as that may sound to modern culture, women welcomed the touch of the hides, believing it would make them more fertile in the coming year and knowing that later the same day, they would be matched with their future groom.
I like to think that the type of love I've experienced and can speak of from the heart falls somewhere in the midst of these extremes. I've learned that love is more than that percussive heart-beat felt between the lungs, vibrating through our ribs, sending butterflies through our solar plexus. It doesn't take true love to feel that kind of sensation. All the years of heartache and heartbreak have reminded me of that time and again. When I met my love, none of that happened. It was definitely one of those “eyes meet across a crowd of people” moments, but there were never butterflies. Butterflies mean you're nervous. True love should never make you nervous.
Love isn't all smiles and dandelions either. In fact, love is more like the infinite interconnectedness of the feminine yin with the masculine yang. Love is about finding balance. It's about compromise. It's about learning from each other, understanding each other, knowing why this time he might be right, learning to bite your tongue and let it go before the dispute grows strong. Love is about giving each other space and respecting their need for “me-time.” We all need me time.
Love is about over-coming challenges together. Love is finding the good in the bad. Yes, the greater portion of love is dedicated to peace and harmony, smooth-sailing while enjoying each others company and living the simple life; cuddles on the couch, grocery dates, dog walks, nature treks and day-after-day of holding each other in lovers embrace as the sun goes down, wishing on stars as we venture into the night. Yet at the same time, love is so much more.
Love is realizing when the other doesn't have the inner-strength to communicate. When you need to put your compassion, patience and understanding on high-gear to sympathize, empathize, and comfort with both gentleness and respect. We are all human. We all feel things. We all get stuck in our heads.
Love is about helping the other back to the present moment, even if all it means is sitting quietly next to her in silence, as she lets her fears and worries slip away, gazing into nothingness, until she can quiet her mind enough to grab your hand and hold it tight. Love is having faith that worry will subside and everything will work out in time.
Love is knowing when you need to make a change. Change is continuous. We grow, we evolve and we adapt. Love is about accepting change when the time is right. It's about diving into the grand adventure of the abyss and willingly taking risks. Whether changing jobs, homes, or simply your way of life, adventures are always better when the one you love is by your side.
Love is apologizing when you know that you were wrong. Acknowledging that the unkind and offensive remark, whether you meant it or not, still flew off your tongue as glass arrows, piercing and shattering the unintentionally targeted and much undeserving heart.
Love is knowing when you have over-indulged, so the smallest argument doesn't result in a black-and-blue hand-print on the back of his forearm, red from inflammation from the lack of self-control and abundance of drunken and unknowing craze and disrespect.
Love is about accepting sincere apologies. Love is about working out our problems together and knowing when it's time to change our ways or time to get help. Love is understanding, encouraging and being that help.
Love is endless. When life ends, love continues on. Love is still sensing and feeling their guiding presence and energy even when they are gone, sending signs and clues on your life-path to keep you focused, healthy and heart-strong.
Love is omnipotent. Love is omnipresent. Love is all around.
Love is having someone there to support and encourage the rants, ravings and fantasies of the ever-intrigued and overly-creative dual-persona brought about through my ever-curious, usually chaotic and always thought-filled, Gemini-mind.
We'd like to know...
What do YOU know about love?