“The course of true love never did run smooth.” – William Shakespeare
Love is that topic that poets, writers, everyone in the world has been trying to figure out and put down on paper, into song, and any other medium you can think of. Much like the meaning of life, love cannot be confined to one sentence, one paragraph, one book. It is multifaceted and ever-changing. The way I feel about love today is not how I felt about it yesterday. It is not how I will feel about it tomorrow.
In my past heartbreaks, I searched for the right words to properly explain how I felt. I would write for hours about it and read for hours what different people have said throughout time. I would find countless passages from different works and think “they get it – they actually get it”, only to find another that “gets it” more. In my happiness and my times of great hope and great love, I do the same thing. I search for something that truly captures how I feel at that moment in time. And I find the same, countless allegorical expressions of love and hope and understanding. We all do this whether it is through literature, television, movies, or music. We all search to make connections wherever we can and it helps us not to feel alone, to know someone else has been there before too.
“She didn’t understand that. “How can anyone be afraid of love?”
“How can they not?” His face was completely aghast. “When you love someone… truly love them, friend or lover, you lay your heart open to them. You give them a part of yourself that you give to no one else, and you let them inside a part of you that only they can hurt—you literally hand them the razor with a map of where to cut deepest and most painfully on your heart and soul. And when they do strike, it’s crippling—like having your heart carved out. It leaves you naked and exposed, wondering what you did to make them want to hurt you so badly when all you did was love them. What is so wrong with you that no one can keep faith with you? That no one can love you? To have it happen once is bad enough… but to have it repeated? Who in their right mind would not be terrified of that?”
― Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sherrilyn Kenyon described heartbreak perfectly. The first time I read that I crumbled because that really describes the true depth of pain you feel when something you cherish has ended.
Love is powerful though, more powerful than that hurt and that pain so overwhelming that the thought of happiness terrifies you and causes your whole body to revolt. After a while it really does hurt less. It still hurts, God knows it still hurts, but it isn’t as severe, isn’t as devastating. Each day that goes on gets a little bit better, a little bit easier. There will always be that one song that you hear, that one poem that you read, one something that you see that will remind you of them. And while you’re healing that reminder can take you right back to the very depths of your pain, of your loss. And at times you feel like you are starting all over again. The sutures break open and you are left feeling battered and bruised. And that progress that you made halted and all that you want in the whole entire world is to feel safe. But you don’t feel safe. You feel completely exposed and for a time you want that final blow, the one that will plunge you into numbness because feeling nothing has to be better than feeling this.
It’s hard when that person you gave your world to gives it back to you. So much time is spent wondering what’s wrong with you. When it isn’t you at all, you just weren’t right for each other. If that person who was so obviously wrong for you (and if they aren’t with you and aren’t making efforts to be with you, they are not right for you) could make you feel so amazing, then why wouldn’t you try again? Why wouldn’t you let yourself be open to the possibility of another and perhaps see just how incredible the right one will feel? Why would anyone settle for a sliver of the love that they deserve? Don’t you believe that you are worth more than that? We have all settled before and we all had our reasons for it which at the time seemed valid and legitimate; not selfish like they probably were. It’s important not to continue doing that because you have some imaginary time limit in your head telling you that “by this age I was supposed to be (insert milestone here) and I’m not but hey, this person over here likes me so I can make it work”. Very rarely could anyone ever make that work. For a short time, yes, but there is no staying power in settling.
Don’t fight for someone who wouldn’t fight for you, who wouldn’t move mountains for the chance to be with you even if it was only for a moment. Love doesn’t lie down and admit defeat, people do. Love doesn’t turn it’s back on you but you turn your back on love. And why would you do that? Because someone hurt you and you actually felt something real? The ones who hurt you the most are the ones who made you feel the most and that’s why it hurts so badly.
Don’t carry that pain forward but leave it in the past. If you aren’t ready to leave the pain in the past you shouldn’t move forward yet with a new love. Know yourself well enough to know when you are free to love again. You cannot hide from your pain in the arms of another.
One thing I have noticed with my healing anytime I have been hurting is that in time it becomes subconscious and I am no longer aware of it. I stop spending hours poring over the details and trying to figure out where that breakdown occurred. And maybe that’s the key to being okay, to acceptance. I know that I had to spend the time going over everything in my head because I faced it all. I truly faced it. So at the end of the day, I will be okay because I never hid from my grief and nor should you. You can bottle it up all you want but it will burst one day and destroy you. Take it and deal with it as it comes. And you will be okay.
“When love beckons to you follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth……
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”
― Khalil Gibran, Le Prophète
It’s fragile but beautiful; breathtakingly written. I have read that time and time again. And he’s right. You really cannot understand the beauty of love if you don’t understand and respect the pain that love can cause.
Loving someone is the biggest risk you can take. It’s like jumping off a cliff and hoping you will fly. We see people climbing back up the mountain after the latest fall, some more worse for the wear than others. The ones who run back up the mountain full-bore trip and stumble over the rocks in their path, falling back and getting more bruised. It is the ones who take their time, go slowly, that arrive at the top refreshed and feel anew. Their ascent may be slower but that time, patience, and willingness to work through the obstructions in their path rather than try to jump over them without stopping to appreciate their magnitude, is what helps them truly heal. And it is quite a thing to see someone jump off that cliff and fly.
Courage and hope always have a way of returning to you if you are open to them. They return in pieces, not all at once. I don’t think one could handle the sudden surge of courage and hope they once had; how would you trust it? But as the heart heals, as you accept the way things are, a little bit of that comes back. Little by little you’ll know you’re okay no matter what happens.
I want to love freely and I do my best to open my heart; not always, not often, but to the right person. But we don’t have a choice in who opens our heart, in whose soul speaks to ours effortlessly. To say that it is I who opens my heart to another isn’t true. It isn’t me who opens up to them, but them who opens me. That’s why sometimes when you meet that person that understands you intrinsically that you feel yourself unfolding quickly and without any control. It is terrifying and incredible all at the same time. Like being on a rollercoaster that you just don’t want to stop because it’s exhilarating, reminds you that you’re alive.
Being in love gives you this lightness in your chest and you see beauty in the world awaken and unfold before you. You don’t even really realize that anything was missing until they come into your life. Colours are brighter, songs are more beautiful, and you are free to be open, to be yourself completely. And that really is what real love lets you do. It lets you be you and helps you openly embrace all of those quirks about you that are ridiculous and make you unique. It accepts your flaws and to that person who loves you, they enhance how beautiful you already are to them. Once you have felt that, once you have met someone who never asks you to hide who you are and fully expects you to be yourself and loves you even more for it, when you find someone who loves your soul, you feel a freedom you never thought possible and it truly transforms you.
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ― Maya Angelou