I was scared of love for a really long time. I was nervous about what I'd read of couples in magazines, or had seen on the streets, or even the relationships that surrounded me growing up. I feared love because it didn't look like something that was positive or good. All it was whittled down to was a whole lot of hurt.
I was in this mindset of “love is pain” because most of my relationships mimicked this feeling. My relationships were filled with fights and passive aggressive stand offs. My insides were bruised; I wasn't satisfied. There was this constant need for more, a need to be fulfilled, and it all led to ultimately being let down. I thought I was right to hate love because it gave me everything I feared it would: pain.
But then, my perspective changed. It did so because the person I loved the most in the world passed away, unexpectedly. His death had me in fits of frailty. I was so fragile that each day I cracked more and more. I was now exposed; all I craved was care. I was in so much emotional pain that I needed to focus on anything that felt good to me. Day-to-day I explored how to feel good, and over time I felt so good that I wanted to share it with someone else.
Still scared of the old story I could recite by heart, I knew I would have to find new chapters that were better to take its place. For me, to be able to love well and to be able to see love as good, I had to actually find stories and partnerships that resembled what I wanted love to look like.
If I made a Pinterest page for love, the images I'd want to see would be of couples laughing, sharing, cooking, laying, smiling and hugging. Here are some of the positive elements I've observed in partnerships that help me see what's so great about love and why I (and maybe you) need to embrace it:
We get to be friends with our partner, which means there is a high level of respect and compassion for each other. We get to listen to the other person's stories about when he used to live in a house with five guys and a cat. We get to talk to each other and tell each other about ourselves, and our fears, dreams and day-to-day interactions. We get to smile at each other when something funny happens, and call the other person out when he or she needs it most.
There's a lightness to love. Being able to grab your partner's hand and twirl her around for no reason, or push him into a pile of leaves and laugh the whole time, is heartwarming. How great is it to laugh with each other? How fun is it to take a hike, go traveling and explore the world with each other? The more memories there are, the more we create opportunities to share them.
To Be As You Are
It feels good to like people. To look at whom they are and genuinely like them for who they are. To like someone means that person doesn't need to change; he or she is enough. To like is to feel alive.
Love means we get to say what we feel and what we need without judgment. It means we get to be open and honest about our feelings so that each person is heard and understood. We get to be who we are and not feel badly about it.
It's relaxing to be able to rely on someone else, to believe in another's capabilities. This can be as simple as asking the other to do the laundry or run the dishwasher, or as big as leaving one person with the kids all day. Having faith, reliance and trust in another person feels good and makes life easier.
Standing in the kitchen and hugging each other for a minute can wipe away any annoyance, stress or anxiety. Squeezing another person and holding him or her is sharing energy. It's a great way to recharge.
Love means that out of the blue, there are tickets to a concert or a play on the calendar. Maybe a bag of chocolates brought home from work waits on the kitchen counter. Notes are left in sock drawers. Random texts are sent during the day just to say, “I love you.” Small bursts of joy and reminders of feeling are exchanged.
The above isn't an exhaustive list, and what love means to each person is entirely different. Although what it looks like for each of us may vary, it is strengthening and warming for all of us. Love feels good.
It's taken me a while to get to this place, but the more I seek out images and partnerships that embody love and respect, the easier it is to see love as something to run toward.