Love for another is a funny thing, in that it’s usually not funny at all. It shows up in places we don’t always expect and latches itself to others we don’t particularly choose. It’s stimulating, delicious, ethereal when it’s returned to us; bruising, heavy, viscous when it isn’t returned; and it’s deep, branding, and beautiful in both cases. We’ve likely all had our share of both and carry around the markings left behind by them.
Love of family is one thing–generally lifelong and solid, but often messy because we must learn to love one another the right way while already loving. However, if you’re lucky enough to experience such familial love, you also know that it is never enough and each of us continue to look outside of ourselves and our family to make a connection to someone else. An outsider, a stranger who will grow a love for you that is as close to unconditional as the feeling allows; to become your adoptive family, to care for, appreciate, and understand you in ways family never could. This is the love I continuously ponder. This is the love I search for in others near and far. This is the love I’m unsure that I trust.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a ‘hopeless romantic’. I’ve dreamed of this love all my life and I’ve honestly tried to find it. I’ve also tried ‘not trying’ to find it in hopes it would instead find me. All I can say for all that hoping and trying is that I look inwardly at myself and see scar tissue and walls built up from all the hurt that’s come from it. Some would call me bitter, and I agree that I am, but no pleasure is taken in that. Recently, I was talking to someone I might call an acquaintance, possible future friend, and worldly thinker and he said something to me that struck a chord; “If people just openly gave their love and shared it, this world would be a much more beautiful place.” And he’s right, isn’t he? So many of us hold back to protect ourselves whether for fear of rejection, commitment, cultural or societal norms or expectations. If we all just took the chance and shared our love, throwing our worries to the wind in self-sacrifice to make the world a more beautiful place, it just might be.
So what did I do about it? I decided I would do exactly that and tell the dude I’ve been wrapped around, inside, and out of for the past 6 years just how I felt, in a Christmas card. Trust me, guys, this was the way to go. The entirety of our relationship is built on writing letters to one another, even writing text messages (as lame as that sounds). We’ve always communicated best in writing and so I decided to do it. In fact, I believe my exact words were, “You should know that my heart’s regard for you spans the fourth dimension in its entirety.” You’d get it if you were either one of us, and I’m sure he did. You’re probably wondering what happened. What did he say? What did he do? Is the world a more beautiful place now? The answers to those questions are: nothing, next to nothing, and, maybe, but mostly just beautifully painful for me.
Back to that chord-striking comment: “If people just openly gave their love and shared it, this world would be a much more beautiful place.” If the question is “why don’t we just give and share our love freely?” then the answer to that is right here in this anecdote. It’s somewhere in the experiences of everyone on Earth, it’s seen in the scars on their heart, in the lines on their face. Love fucking hurts. As beautiful as it is and as many wondrous things as it can possibly offer, we all sacrifice something in sharing it if it’s not returned in kind. Withholding or avoidance are how we’ve evolved to protect ourselves from that kind of pain. It’s a pain no shield or equipment can block, reaching a place inside of each one of us that can only be protected through censorship or veiling. I’m not saying this strategy is right or even beneficial. On the contrary I completely agree with the observation above, I truly do think that sharing love without restraint would make the world a better place. But let’s face it–we’d all have to do it together and nobody wants to do it because it’s scary and it, more often than not, hurts like hell.
So do I regret sharing my feelings? Yes and no. Yes, because I feel like if I hadn’t, maybe I’d still have somewhat of an upper hand here (nah, I’m sure control is something we convince ourselves exists also, as much as I’d like to believe it does). No, because at least he does know. And if I hadn’t told him and something happened in the future that prevented me from ever telling him, I’d hate myself forever; and I truly am my biggest critic and executioner.
So my pondering, now, revolves around this: We are all just a bunch of molecules that together breathe and somehow have this weird ability/instinct to love. Molecules, like everything else that exists in the world, solar system, galaxy, universe; and yet, here we are. So why this? What benefit does love have for us if so often it does nothing but cause pain? Furthermore, why would I have developed this love for this person for a good 20% of my life only to be completely alone in it and receive nothing back. It doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t fit. It makes me think I’m broken. I know I’m not alone in that feeling, but honestly, it’s fucking lonely because it’s a feeling all my own and nothing really makes it better. All we can do is push it down inside of us and wait for that scar tissue to creep in, muffling out the pain.