Love hurts

I like to tell stories, not the kind where a white knight rides up to save his princess or the kind that contain too much fiction that they are unbelievable and definitely not ones that have so much truth that the audience loses interest.  I’ve found that a story is so much better than real life but for it to be effective it must possess two things:  a believable plot, and a purpose.  Some of you will read my story and get nothing from it but for those of you who find some scrap of usefulness – then it is you for whom this is intended.

My story….

I had a nice childhood if you cut out the bickering of  my parents which led to a nasty divorce, but honestly that part isn’t so unique that it deserves more than one sentence.  The important part of my childhood, the part that shaped me and turned me towards the direction I’d travel for greater part of my life is the part where I learned about love.  I’m not talking about the love you have for your parents, your siblings, or your pets but the love you eventually develop towards another human being that isn’t related to you.  Somehow mixed up in all the lessons my parents tried to teach me I learned that love is painful.  Love takes from you and rarely gives back; it leaves knots in your stomach the size of Pennsylvania.  Love weaves an intricate tale around your existence until it squeezes the hope from your veins.  Depressing isn’t it?  Completely wrong?  Yes, but that is another lesson that took years to learn.  I believed in that description of love so much that if I felt any emotion for another human being that didn’t fit into that mold, I forced it out of my life.  Once, I thought I loved a boy.  He was grande and delightful and everything about him fit the requirements most mother’s want for their daughters.  He loved me so much that he accepted my quirks, my flaws, my mis-conceptions about life itself.  He loved me and for a while I thought I loved him too because as he was discovering who he was he broke my heart as most teenage boys do to one young girl’s heart at some point or another.  A broken heart can feel like the worst pain you will ever experience, the kind of pain that keeps you from eating, sleeping, seeing your friends; pain that makes you play the saddest song you know over and over and over again until your mom takes your cassette and smashes it into a thousand pieces just so she doesn’t have to hear that ballad again.  My heart ached and so sprouted the belief that I was undeniably in love with this boy.  This was only the beginning to my story which played out through the chapters that followed.  Eventually the boy went away and my search for the next love of my life continued.  Relationships with boys disguised as men threw me into a whirlwind as I spun out of control feeling ‘love’.  The love I found always resembled the love that came before it therefore enforcing my belief that unless it hurt, unless it ripped my heart from my chest – it wasn’t love at all.  My search had to continue outside of my hometown because it began to get claustrophobic and so I met a boy who I believed had almost grown into his man-suit.  I moved three hours away from my family regardless of their pleas for me to stay.  I needed to go where the love was and nothing was going to hinder my plans.  And so I went and the love continued to wrap me in its bliss.  The more he hurt me, the more I loved him.  The more he tried to control me by planning out my life for me, the more I believed he had my best interests in mind.  My world rested upon his existence which he carefully balanced because he loved me, until one day he didn’t – love me that is, or at least I thought that’s what happened.  The truth is that because he had his own life and I did not, I eventually had to learn to rely upon myself.  A funny thing happens when you learn to be self-sufficient – the balance of power shifts.  The turmoil between us grew which fueled my desire for him and lessened his for me and eventually I became the burden that toppled the scale.  And so I sat alone in a city where I had no family, my friends were his friends, my life was reliant on his life.  I’d like to say that I learned that love lesson quickly after this failed relationship but in reality, the lesson took longer to  learn.

I spent time by myself, not in a relationship and not exactly out of one either.  I held on to the notion that this man I’d dedicated my life to would somehow realize his mistake.  I could be change, I could go back to being needy, go back to being what he needed me to be, I could be – nothing.  As I slowly tumbled down the ladder closer to destination ‘rock bottom’ an amazing thing happened to me, someone reached out their hand and pulled me back up onto the sidewalk.  They held up a mirror in front of my face and asked me to answer the question, “Who are you?”  As I stood there staring into the eyes that resembled my father’s I simply replied, “I don’t know.”  There’s something wonderful and at the same time sad about the moment your realize you have wasted so much time existing for other people that you ceased to exist for yourself.  Wonderful in that it’s a realization and a chance to be something else – to make other choices; sad because you have to admit that what you thought you knew, wasn’t knowledge at all.

It was a long road to recovering myself and I say ‘recovering’ because it existed there all along but it was buried beneath the rubble of bad choices and tragic experiences.  I learned that love isn’t supposed to be painful, it isn’t the thief that takes your hope away – it is the hero that gives it back.   When I finally laid down my battle gear I realized how long and how hard I’d been fighting against myself; when you fight the one person who carries all the power to change the outcome of your life – there is no winner.  A couple of years after  my painful journey to the other side of hell, I met my husband.  I’d like to say I loved him instantly but learning to trust yourself and your heart requires baby steps – I thank God every day for his patience. 

One more thing happened to me after discovering the true meaning of love, I realized that the boy from long ago, the one I thought I didn’t love because the experience wasn’t wrapped inside of pain – turns out it actually was love that I felt for him all along.  Do I regret letting him go, sometimes, but I know that he had to be part of my journey back to myself and for that I will always be grateful.

Love brings you closer to yourself – not farther away, it strengthens your ties to your family – not breaks the ones in place, it teaches you to stand on your own two feet – not knock you off of them, it is never threatening, never judging, never consequential, never anything other than something that makes you be more than you were the day before.

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