Love: Just Do it

Love and I…well, we have had a tumultuous relationship.

When I was young I was all about love; I was fearless – I loved everyone. My parents, my family, my little schoolmates, the people in my neighborhood. I imagined the world was full of only good things and that, if I was a caring, kind, loving little girl nothing but care, kindness, goodness and love would come back to me.

Sweet, but naive.

As I grew, I still loved. Only far, far more cautiously and there were many a time I refused to give myself over to love out of fear.

Fear of rejection, fear of pain, fear of humiliation, fear of loss of power, fear of loss, period. I mean, Nazareth wasn’t kidding – love does hurt. A lot of the time loving means ending up in pain one way or another.

Since my last divorce I have given a lot of thought to love. I always thought of it as something…a gift…that you sort of bestowed upon the person that you love. A feeling that was more about them than about you, really. Something that started within you, but that ended up this external part of yourself that was handed over to someone else, and you kind of had to trust that they would do right by it.

Which of course, few do.

I’ve had a small number of relationships since then and, while I felt varying degrees of something for the men I was with, I can’t say I loved any of them. To be honest I questioned whether or not that was because my gut knew they weren’t going to end up working out in the long run, because I was broken and could no longer love as I used to, or because I had come to a place in my life where I was subconsciously choosing not to put myself in line for any more hurt.

I have always said, you can’t un-learn things. Once you experience enough heartbreak, loss, devastation, etc you can’t regain that childlike innocence that allows you to just open your heart without hesitation and let the love pour out.

Or, I couldn’t anyway.

What I have come to realize as I discover love again for the first time in a very many years, is that love isn’t at all what I thought it was…

Love actually has nothing to do with it’s object and everything to do with it’s source.

Love isn’t a thing we fling out of ourselves, only to attach to another person in the hopes of some….I don’t know...result. It has nothing to do with action or behavior or circumstance. And it has nothing to do with fear either.

It is not about condition. All of that fear and expectation stuff is conditional. It treats love as though it were an “if/then” statement when really is is just the opposite.

The other night I told my boyfriend that I love him for the first time. I think he probably knew how I felt about him already…I’m not a very subtle person…but although I had felt the actual words pushing against my teeth for some time, I had been biting them back.

I’m not sure why exactly. I didn’t want to scare him perhaps, didn’t want it to somehow feel like an obligation,  I didn’t want to embarrass him, I didn’t know what I’d do if it, you know, didn’t go over well.

But as I lay there in the dark silence and felt it circling in my mouth, wanting to be made real in the speaking of it, I got to thinking…this isn’t dependent on him; isn’t dependent on anything really. It is purely and simply how I feel. And if a zillion years of therapy has taught me one thing it is that feelings aren’t right or wrong – they just are.

And you know what? I wanted him to know it. Plain and simple.

While it is a validating thing to be told by someone you are close to that they in fact love you –  and I certainly wanted him to feel that validation –  it was as important that I validate myself; that I accept the emotion by giving voice to it. Yes, heart, it is perfectly alright to feel what you are feeling.

Suddenly, swallowing it back seemed to me as though I was telling myself it was a thing to be hidden. And if you know me at all, you know I’m a cards on the table kind of girl. So why had this card been so different? I had no answer.

I realized it wasn’t as much about whether or not he was “ready to hear it”, as it was about the fact that I was ready to say it.

My mom always said to never, ever, EVER say the L word first. And that is a direct quote by the way, she was not a big proclaimer of love, it was always the L word. Toward the end of her life that changed, as it often does with people face to face with mortality, but her “rule” always stuck in my head. And amazingly enough I have abided by that rule.  I will say it back if I feel it, but I have never uttered it first.

Her message was that there is too much risk involved in saying it…at all, let alone first. Once you say you love someone, they can hurt you in all kinds of heinous ways. It’s like rolling over and exposing one’s soft pink underbelly and hoping that the bearing of teeth that results is a smile and not the show of fangs before evisceration.

No disrespect to my mother, but I don’t buy that line of reasoning anymore. Love is something entirely new to me now. It isn’t risk. It isn’t a means to an end. It’s not, “I love you. You love me too? Great. Phew, glad that’s over with, now let’s move on to X and Y and then blah, blah, blah, Happily Ever After”.

Love isn’t relationship, per say, it is relating. It is a verb not a noun. It moves; it is a continuum. It changes. It is not a thing of certainty…andwe want it so to be a thing of certainty and security in our society.

But there is no real security or predictability in life – everything is always in a state of flux or growth. Life flows. Love does too. Love isn’t possession or attachment or a condition or an end point…it’s freedom.

No conditions. Love me too, or don’t. That information is not going to alter what I feel.

My mum had her analogy about when you “just know” about a person being the one, remember that? Well, I have an analogy of my own for you too now I think:

Love is like breathing.

There is no, “should I take this breath?”, “what will happen if I exhale?”, “what if the air is cold and it hurts my lungs?”, “I hope I don’t look foolish breathing”, “is this the right time for me to breathe?”

You don’t think about it…there are no prerequisites for breathing, no conditions…you simply do it because it is a natural part of being alive.

Just like love. Love is an outpouring of your bliss, it is the opening of your heart. It is the sharing of the song of your very being! And sharing feels so joyful to us – and so we share.

Sharing for sharing’s sake and with no other motive. Not for any reason other than because it feels so damn good!

Exhale…bliss.  Inhale…joy.

Perhaps it isn’t love that is so different now; perhaps it is me. But either way I can say this, let go of the fear, quit over thinking it…if you love somebody tell them. Maybe they’ll look at you funny, maybe they’ll run screaming in the other direction, or maybe you’ll discover that they love you too.

Does it really matter? I submit that it does not. Love because you can’t not. Because loving is a gift you give yourself and to all the world, really. Love because you’re alive! Don’t worry about it. Just feel it.

And by all means ENJOY it.

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