I am me because you are you
On falling in love when I didn't believe in it.
It’s not that I didn’t believe true love was possible, whatever “true love” is supposed to mean. As opposed to untrue love? Just plain, old love? There are as many definitions of love as there are people on the planet, I figure. We all grow up in diverse communities and cultures that have different values and so define love in various ways. Companionship? Loyalty? Procreation? Safety? Respect? Everyone has different wants and needs. What some may dreamily describe as perfect love may not do a thing for others.
In American culture, growing up with movie, TV, radio, and social media performances of love as a superhuman kind of ecstasy all shoved all up in our gullible staring scrolling faces, the entire romantic relationship endeavor (twin flame, soulmate, my person) is cranked up to an absurd, nearly unattainable level. We are constantly bombarded by the notion that love is a triumphant, happily ever after, our raison d'être.
Or hey. Maybe it’s the opposite? Pop culture also tells us love has to be hard, dramatic, and heart-rending or else you must not really be in love. Jealousy is redefined as devotion or someone’s ability to make you angry or irrational is passion.
Maybe we tell ourselves these things to justify the horror of finding ourselves in a terrible relationship. Like that line of Cher’s in Moonstruck,“Love don't make things nice, it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess.” Romanticizing dysfunction into love to justify staying in a shitty relationship?
Been there. Done that.
Maybe I decided love was my parents’ awful relationship: a shotgun wedding immediately after high school graduation. Perhaps love was how my grandpa and grandma savagely called each other out in front of us, clearly sick of each other’s tired bullshit after decades of orbiting each other like strategizing civil war generals on opposite sides of the battlefield? Or maybe I learned what love was from observing the life my other grandma led? A mother of 5 boys, at 40-something, she escaped a physically abusive relationship with a violent alcoholic and spent the rest of her life contentedly alone.
I understand now that my parents’ terrible relationship after their divorce and a childhood without much in the way of positive relationship role models left me ill-equipped to comprehend what actual love - however you define it - entails let alone understand how to be in a marginally successful relationship.
It has always been easy - a relief, even - to eye-roll a response to the schmoopy antics of lovers. I’m not that kind of girl, I convinced myself. Girls who need love are weak. I don’t need anyone. I felt like this not because I didn’t want to experience love. Deep inside I think I was dying for love but experienced a visceral aversion to it because it didn’t seem love actually existed. Easier to tell myself I wasn’t missing out on anything because real love wasn’t, in fact, real. It was the stuff of movies or cloying love songs.
Now, after seven years with Cory, it’s pretty simple to understand how, with the right love with the right person, anyone can bloom into the kind of human I used to roll my eyes about.
Yep, even me.
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