Warning: Mentioning of depression and suicide.
This was supposed to be an article about the misconceptions surrounding love, but I feel like most people know them by now, don’t they?
- Love isn’t always as magical as you would like it to be
- Love doesn’t automatically lead to things like trust, loyalty or commitment
- Love isn’t always easy, sometimes it’s a very difficult choice
You know, all the bittersweet aftermaths of unexpected relationships. I think after everyone’s first experience with love, or maybe after their 10th experience, they get an inkling that love isn’t some grand rarity that has the ability to cure every illness and misfortune in the world. It’s true that relationships can’t survive solely on love.
Love doesn’t solve any problems, it just gives you the courage to try.
But that’s not the only thing it does.
Love actually kills you, too. But that may be better than it sounds.
Really? Because it Sounds Mortifyingly Pessimistic
They sound like opposites, don’t they? Love and death? Love being the greatest thing in the world and death being… well, the worst.
For the longest time I thought they were, but then again I had a lot of strange ideas about love. I actually thought love was the solution to death, as if it was my personal bodyguard protecting me from the world’s malice, and that if I had love, then I could overcome any and every obstacle in life.
As you probably guessed, life beat the shit out of me for being so naive.
The demise of my very first relationship at 18 years old transpired not even a month into it. We were both kids, immature and tentative, who wound up together by happenstance and ended up falling in love pretty quickly… well, whatever conception of love an 18-year old can have, anyway.
We talked for hours on the phone everyday until we fell asleep and resumed in the morning. We gave each other gifts like necklaces and poems (the cheesiest you can imagine) to express our compassion for one another. We longed for one another desperately when we were apart, unable to bear being separated.
I wanted to marry her and grow a life together.
*Surprised Pikachu Face*
In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been a shock to me that she didn’t share the same views for the future as I did.
She was transparent from the beginning that she wasn’t particularly trusting of relationships and people in general, as many sour experiences in the past had taught her.
I completely respected her opinion, but in my mind, I wanted to be the man who changed her mind, who showed her that it was possible to have a healthy and long-lasting relationship with a little bit of commitment and faith.
Guess that didn’t so well.
Ironically, I think I was probably the briefest relationship she ever had. She broke it off because it was evident we both expected different things, and that we couldn’t give each other what the other person needed.
She couldn’t give me the evergreen love and attention I was yearning for, and I couldn’t give her the space and room she needed to grow. I was too attached and dependent, and she was detached and independent.
It was doomed from the start.
And despite only having known her for a grand total of several months, her departure from my life devastated me. It felt like one of my limbs had been ripped off, like she’d been my crutch for my entire life and I was being forced to learn how to walk without her.
Which obviously wasn’t the case, but you couldn’t convince my brain of that.
My Fantasy Fortress
I isolated for years after the breakup, replaying every single moment from our relationship over and over in my head, wondering if I had done something wrong, and what I could possibly do to win her back. I cried myself to sleep many nights, sometimes in sadness over her loss, and other times in happiness over her memory.
I grieved in silence, not showing my despondence in its true form to anyone, and it should have slowly washed my pain away, but instead I just got worse.
I stopped showering, eating, hanging out with friends, performing well at my mediocre and boring job as a shelver at the local library; I stopped taking care of myself.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, eventually, I found myself starting to hate my ex.
I knew she hadn’t done anything wrong, but just like I couldn’t control my love for her, I couldn’t control my hatred. I hated her for leaving me, and I hated myself for hating her, and hating myself made me hate the world in its totality.
I felt dead.
A zombie meandering it’s way through a meaningless void, waiting for my own extinction to save me from myself.
And eventually I couldn’t wait any longer, so I decided to overdose on my depression medication.
And you know the first thing I thought after 60 or so round yellow pills slithered down my throat?
Holy shit, I’m a fucking idiot.
I immediately wanted to shove my fingers down my throat and vomit everything back up, but I didn’t, because even in my revelatory regret and idiocy, I felt I deserved such a fate.
The only reason I’m alive today is because a friend called me an ambulance, for which I will be forever grateful, because it allowed me to learn something profound, something that was world-shattering to a kid like me.
My ex had made the decision that I was too weak to make, the decision that was the best for both of us, yet I couldn’t bring myself to accept.
I hated my ex for leaving me and betraying my love, but in a very real sense, her acting in both of our best interests meant she loved me more than I ever loved her.
And that killed me.
For so long, I felt like I had died the moment she left me, like I had nothing else to live for.
But one day, after my body and mind had apparently grown weary of being depressed and despondent, I realized that it wasn’t the day she left me when I died, but the day I met her.
How Did She Kill You?
Obviously, I don’t mean it in the physical sense. It’s not like I literally fell into a pit of love and impaled my heart on a spike.
I mean that when I was with her, I wasn’t thinking about me. I was focused on her, her aspirations and desires, her fears and insecurities, how I could make her laugh, feel better, motivate her, etc.
The stresses and worries of my life ceased to exist in her presence, because she became my world so easily.
When our relationship was alive, I was dead.
And I loved being dead.
But when our relationship ended, I was revived, resuscitated into breathing in the air of my own life again, reminded of all the things I didn’t have, of all the pain I was experiencing and wishing I wasn’t.
When love existed, I didn’t. Love dissolved the boundaries between life and I, creating a homogenous soup of ecstasy I never intended on escaping.
But I was ejected anyway.
Are You Dead or Alive Now?
I don’t know if I have an accurate characterization of my life at the moment, or if I ever will.
But what I’ve learned is that romance, and relationships in general, are not the only areas where love exists.
Just like how my first relationship was less of a representation of unity between two people, and more of a reflection of our individual flaws and strengths mirrored in one another, so is love not necessarily a bond between two things.
Love is that which dissolves the boundaries separating you from what you desire, be it intimacy, connection, gratefulness, hope, or otherwise. It is the death of all you consider to be yours.
I used to view love as finite, and beyond that, singular. But I’ve come to love many things:
- My ex
- My current partner
- My family, including my brothers, cousins and parents
- My passion for writing
- My own personality, including my empathetic qualities and stubbornness
- The flux of nature, the cold wind, the warm sun, the annoying rain and soft grass
- The prospects of my future and my endeavors to attain them
- The vast array of emotions and thoughts I’m able to experience and either reconcile or not reconcile
All these things, and many more unnamed, grant that same dissolution of my first relationship, that desire and ability to go beyond myself and integrate with life in a way that’s impossible when we’re so focused on our limited slice of the universe.
The greatest memories are made when we forget ourselves, and love is that which makes us forget ourselves.
Love is always unexpected, a bottomless pit we fall into unwittingly, only to discover the most beautiful things in the void.
They say to always keep your head up, or else you risk losing your footing and falling into a hole, but maybe falling into a hole is exactly what we all need sometimes.
So don’t go looking for love like a souvenir from a trip you want to bring back and enshrine in your armoire forever.
Just keep going, and maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll fall into a hole you can never climb out of.
:) — Shy Am I
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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