Love is a peculiar thing.
Love has come and gone for me over my lifespan, and I have experienced many forms of it.
Looking back, I can remember my “first love” (crush!); a girl in school who paid me absolutely no attention whatsoever, but that didn’t stop me from fantasizing about what our life together would be like when we were older. It broke my heart when she got herself a boyfriend.
Then there was my first internet love; a blonde-haired lady from Florida. Her mind was sharp, and her wit was razor-edged. She had no romantic feelings for me though, I was just a friend!
Then there was the woman I traveled to Malta to meet. Boy, that was sticky love. We were at it like bunnies every day I was there. This was a new kind of love. She was the first lady I was in a relationship with that had taken me the full nine yards. It so came to pass that I found out she had another man on the side too.
Honorable mention to my boss that I dated for a while once upon a time. That was crazy love.
Then I found real love.
I’m not here to define what love should be for anyone else so I’ll say that it was the best love that I could have for my own well-being. It was a love I had never experienced before; it was all those previous loves in the same bundle — but one added love; I felt it was reciprocated. I felt it back.
All that I was giving her I was getting back tenfold. It was and is amazing.
See, I’ve learned a lot about love through deep reflection over the years. One thing I’ve learned is that we often love each other in the ways we have been shown in childhood. The ways in which our parents loved us is the way in which we love ourselves and the people around us. I learned some great things about love through my parents, and some not so great.
My mum was the biggest influence on me since she was the one that brought me up. Mum was a fighter; she also hated liars and cheats. Mum would walk to the ends of the earth for people that she liked and often found herself in trouble because of that same trait. She once gave her partner thousands of dollars to start up his own business. The less I talk about that, the better.
I was shown great selfless love by my mum; to give and forget, to love and to cherish — but great Yang doesn’t come without equal amounts of the Yin. See, mum was an incredibly unconfident young lady. She was placating to other people so that they would like her as a person. She didn’t have the self-confidence to like herself on her own — and both of that awesomeness, and the not-so-awesomeness transcended onto me, and I carried on the family tradition.
I had boundless love to give — but at a price. I did amazing favors for everyone — but mentally chalked up in my head as “owed in future” – love for me was conditional. Offend my morality and you’d find yourself in the doghouse. This is how I was taught to love; this was the only love I knew; this was how my family loved me — selflessly but at a price.
Of course, because this was all that I knew or understood I thought in my youthful naivety this was love across the board. This is how people love and love back.
When a young boy (or girl) moves into puberty they switch needing to gain approval from their mum and dad, and add a new factor in; it’s dreadfully important to gain approval from their peers; their school mates, their friendships they build outside of school — and this is part of the reason why adolescence is highly stressful. Gaining approval from other people is tough. It’s no easy ride.
And through all of this, we reach out to people with similar circumstances to our own. If you examine all of your friendships throughout the years, you’ll realize that each person has a shared situation that you’ve bonded together over. And most (if not all) connect with people to similar mentalities and mindsets to each other. That’s why the jocks rarely hang out with the nerds in school — there’s very little cross over in that department.
So, it’s very hard. Very hard to see outside of my own conditional mindset when all I’ve known is conditional love, and that has been reinforced through my family, and my friendships circles. It can be very hard to open your mind to anything different.
Through the last ten years, I’ve gone on a journey. I’ve sat and just listened to many people. Just listened. And each and every time I think I have the idea of love nailed down someone comes along and blows my ideas out of the water.
It’s just not consistent enough. Life is highly varied, and through deep personal experiences, people love in very different ways. I’ve seen people that love each other through arguing every night, and the very next day they are all happy again — it’s all they’ve known. That’s probably what their parents did, and their friendships did. Us? My wife and I are probably weirdos to them.
“All quiet and lovey and shit, something is not right there.”
So, I shy away when people tell me how love should be. They don’t get to define that for me, or for anyone else for that matter. Life is diverse and different and mostly crazy. As I grow older, I’m more and more about the observing rather than the telling.
Only you can tell if it’s love for you. You know. You’ll know if you’re happy, or if something isn’t right.
Build on that!