“Have you even been in love? Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses. You build up this whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…
You give them a piece of you. They don’t ask for it. They do something dumb one day like kiss you, or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so a simple phrase like “maybe we should just be friends” or “how very perceptive” turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a body-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
OK, excluding the turn this quote takes towards the end, I really like it. Well, the first paragraph is great, at least. I found it while looking for a new signature quote for my email. I’m pretty sure I could just chop off the end of it, leave it trailing after the “crying in the darkness” part, but then that would be taking the quote out of context and… unethical. So there it is.
But let’s be honest – that’s what love is like. At least for me. You build up walls so you won’t get hurt again. You get to the point where you think you’re immune, that regardless of what happens, you can avoid pain because you’ve got these defenses. And then someone, somehow, maybe without even them knowing it, sneaks around all of that and -bam!- you’re screwed. I don’t mean that pessimistically – it’s just that if you thought you were protected, and you realize you aren’t, it’s a bit… frightening at first. And exhilarating. And then finally comforting. There’s great… comfort and safety in being vulnerable.
I know that I thought I was safe, protected, defended against the potential injury of love. So safe, in fact, that I was worried I’d gone too far and wouldn’t be able to experience that again. Because the last time… didn’t end well, and even if it wasn’t a real relationship by the world’s standards, the feelings I had were real, and I totally cherish that experience. I grew through it, and learned about myself, and ultimately am who I am today because of it. But in the aftermath of love lost, there’s the opportunity to shut one’s self off from future pain. I readily acknowledged that he hadn’t done anything wrong, that I had knowingly put myself in that situation, and only I was to blame for any hurt I was experiencing. So logically I could protect myself from that again, and I was the only one who could, since I was in charge.
Oh, how naive we are.
And then I went years upon years of barely even meeting anyone with potential. I blabbered on about different guys here and there, mostly because they were the only thing going on, not because there was any real potential there. And a blog gets significantly less interesting without a love interest of some sort. (That’s a joke there, folks.)
When I first met Prince Charming, I wasn’t sure where I’d ended up. Had I boxed off feelings for so long that I wouldn’t be able to find them again? Did I even want a relationship? Where the h*ll am I in life? You know, typical 20-something crises.
We kept seeing each other, and he definitely grew on me, and time passed. I knew I felt something for him, I just… wasn’t sure of myself. I’d done this before, either fooled myself that the guy felt something, or fooled myself that I did, and I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I wanted to know it was real. And my sweet boy was ever-so-patient, and somehow knew that there was something real there, that it was worth waiting around for me to figure it out.
And somehow, in the midst of this, he completely snuck in around all my defenses. It happened early-on, too, because I remember saying to Amanda or Liz or Alison (or maybe all three – there was a lot of Kelly-counseling going on then) how it almost frightened me that I implicitly trusted him completely. I always felt safe, and cared for. He has always been brave enough to put himself out there first, so I could slowly learn to be vulnerable again. And he puts up with my shortcomings (“areas of growth”).
The difference between friends and significant others is this: both recognize and will admit with you what your faults are. Both completely accept you with them. But significant others… make you want to grow and improve upon yourself, work on your faults, as best you can.
And at some point, you reach the stage where you’re not sure that your life is completely your own anymore. You haven’t lost your individuality, your identity, but so much of your life – your decisions, your plans for Saturday afternoon, your frustrations and concerns, your goals and dreams – are wrapped up in this other person. And that can get frightening. It can be the point where you run, cut bait, get the h*ll out of dodge.
But if you do that, you totally miss out on the best part. Because if we run every time we get scared, or things get rough, we’re always starting over, and we’re never… evolving into future versions of ourselves. True, we might miss out on great pain and heartbreak, but we miss out on great love, that’s for sure. Movie love, storybook love, real love. Because when the director yells “cut,” and “The End” shows up on the screen, life continues, and it gets messy and rough, and that’s where life is lived. That’s where who we are is really determined. I’ve heard it said, “character is who you are when nobody is looking.” I can’t think of a good way to put that into parallel thought, but… you get my drift, right?
So sure, I can get on board with the author who says, “I hate love.” The greatest pains I have ever experienced in my life have been because of love, whether it be family or churches or friends. But I also know that those are the experiences that forged me, that have molded me and shaped me into who I am today. And though I know I have a lot of “areas of growth,” I’m OK with life as it is today, with me as I am. And heck, who wants to have “arrived” at their full potential as a human being at 28? “Areas of growth” just means that life can continue to be exciting and drama-filled and I can keep changing as I age, instead of being some stagnant fuddy-duddy adult, stuck in my ways.
But more accurate than “I hate love” is the idea behind it, that love is powerful and strong and worth grabbing onto. If more people were willing to… hang in there when the going gets rough, or see the potential in another person and wait around for them to figure things out… would there be fewer lonely people out there? I sure think so.
I don’t remember what I started out to say, whether it was “thanks” or “here’s what I’m thinking” or… something else. As terrifying as it can be, when love gets inside you, when another person can shake you to your core… that’s the stuff. It’s never wrong to love. Never.
Thus ends today’s rambling thoughts…. you may continue on in a confused matter as you were before.