In the past, I have been bitter (albeit, no extraordinarily so) about couples, fake holidays (Valentine’s Day included) and just ‘love’ and men in general. Is love dead? I believed so, since that fateful day when my heart was broken with a vicious and conniving high five in public in a coffee shop. In that moment, while other people could probably hear the conversation – the fact that it was brought up via Facebook message first, and then taken into a very public place without privacy, and then shuffled away with a high five before the conversation continued as ‘normal’ – and they may have been live Tweeting it (though Tweeting was not around in 2008) and if not, they were texting their friends about it. Maybe they felt sorry for me. For anyone who took pity on me that day, thank you. I don’t normally appreciate pity but my 22-year old self needed that.
But after that day, did I really think there was such a thing as love and commitment? No, I did not. I truly believed people told each other lies about loving one another for some sort of gain, financial or otherwise. I believed that couples were a disgusting waste of time because all they did was sit around and tell each other lies. I believed it was truly impossible for me to be loved, or love someone enough. I believed all of this because it was my life, over and over and over again. And instead of holding onto the hope that it would get better, I gave up. I gave in to what I said about myself and I let go of any fantasies of ‘love’.
In 2012 however, I was enlightened, just a little bit and I gave into something that seemed real at the time. It wasn’t, but it was real enough for me to get back up off the floor and try again. And it was this time for the most part that I called the shots. I decided when to stay and when to go, what I wanted and what I didn’t want, and when I realized this was not my love story, I quit. And set out on a quest to find the story that was (and I owe this person a debt of gratitude for demonstrating to me that reopening your heart was possible, despite how empty things were, in the end).
Not too long after, did find my love story.
What does it mean to be in love? As I’ve maintained in the past, being in love means different things to different people. How each of us uniquely defines what it means to be in love determines who we love, how we love, and how we feel chemistry. It determines too, how we feel when we’re in love, and the ways in which those we love can make us feel. For me, to be in love means giving and doing everything you can to someone to make them happy because making them happy in turn, makes you happy. To be in love for me, also means that you hurt when they hurt, even if that hurt happened in the past before you even knew the person. To know your loved one suffered and that others hurt them induces anger in me. It makes me want to go back in time and shield them and try and alleviate their pain. To me, being in love is finding that common ground – deep common ground, not just liking the same movies and books. It’s having a revelation that in some way, shape or form you have the same viewpoint of the world and how it works. Only in this moment can you realize that you’re able to move forward as a collective.
Are all of these love stories permanent and never-breaking? No, but each one of them reminds us that we’re alive and can feel something we didn’t know we could feel. We open our petals to expose ourselves to the sun. We dry our tears. We realize that hurt, or potential hurt, is worth feeling this kind of shielding, unyielding protection, commitment and strength. Even if and when it ends, there is something that can be said about allowing yourself to be in that position. It can only be positive.
How many ‘great loves’ do we get in our lifetimes? I mean the sort of love that sings, that makes you realize that while you for the most part always felt, and always were ‘full’, there is still a person who fills a void that isn’t even there. How many times do we actually fall? As in, not limerence, not lust, not silly stupid crushes, but real, full, blessed, undying mutual love? So we have an actual moment that we remember forever, like when I was in Seattle in November and heard ‘I love you’ for the first time?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. There aren’t answers to these questions. Love is beyond science and psychology and estimations and facts and figures and logic. In love, we only know what we know; we know what we have; we know that in that moment, there is an inherent truth and something meaningful and something real and true and important. But we don’t know how to describe it or place our finger on what it is. We don’t know how many times we’ll fall on our face. We don’t know when we speak to someone for the first time that we might marry them, or they might break us down until we’re nothing. The point is, it’s worth it to try, and it’s worth it to be open-minded and open-hearted and emotionally present and reflective to feel that, regardless of how we feel about paper hearts and boxes of chocolates and stuffed bears.