I have a password-protected document on my computer entitled “love.” It’s juicy, and juvenile, filled with journal entries that speak of the many emotions I have often confused for love. It begins with my very first kiss, works its way painfully and dramatically through my highschool days into the wilds of university, and spares no-one and nothing in my attempt to document that part of my life as I searched for the real definition of love.
I thought briefly about including this writing in its entirety here, but baring it all would be pure talk-show confession instead of edifying information. (And I might just shrivel up and die of embarrasment at some of the more luscious and ludicrous angst.)
Suffice to say, I’ve been many strange places in my heart, and been very confused, alone, and at times, desperate for affection.
I became a master at mistaking comfort for love, and learning painfully what I didn’t want, and couldn’t settle for.
Three things stand out amidst the torrent of tears, words, and drama contained in those pages, and they are what I would like to emphasize here.
I always fell for people who I was embarrassed of, had to make excuses for, or kept in one part of my life and not another, or didn’t really connect with. They were safe, containable, non-committal.
I also became easily and willingly entangled, as a passionate person, in the thickets of desire and physical touch, which made it harder to escape in the end.
And, I never let myself hope for something good – there was always a sacrifice to be made, or a compromise necessary to intimacy, complicated by the fact that I was too insecure to believe anyone would actually love me.
For the record, those things do not dissapear when real, full-blooded, messy true love comes along. Believing my husband and erasing lifelong patterns of thought that send me into denial, despair and self-loathing is a daily task that I gladly bear. When we first began to spend our time together, I could barely see him through the haze of myself and my fears. I would come home after a sweet evening and throw things, trying to escape the paralysis of self-reflection and fear of rejection.
The first entry and the last that I am going to excerpt in this post speak of opposite ends of hope; the first was written when I was 23, and tired of seeking, and the second comes eleven days before I was married. they remind me that it’s never too late to ask for more, to be vunerable, and to hope.
“There are nineteen days until my twenty-third birthday, and I haven’t ever been in love…
What is this thing called love? It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced. Yes, one man did leave a considerable scar and moments of almost unbearable truth and beauty, but my track record – obsession, imagination and little action, speaks for itself.
I often wonder if I made mistakes by liking certain folk, or if those unwitting targets of my affection were mistaken identities – nowhere have I found the man who can kiss me honestly.
Nineteen days until my twenty-third birthday.”
“Eleven days remain before I am made a married woman. It gives me pause to read over the past fifteen pages, and my heart softens, my spirit humbled by the impossible, amazing man that I am marrying. These pages speak of missing the mark, of longing, of hoping for more, and being heartbroken with less. With [my husband] all of my hungers are quenched. He is tall, strong, quiet, loud, adventurous, tender-hearted, brilliant, handsome, particular, mature, appreciative, intriguing, and the list goes on.
I know what falling in love is like. I am almost overcome with emotion. But lest the happy ending prove too trite for any reading this, I must confess that love does not numb the perils and pains of life. I am still troubled, I still weep, I still chafe at the habits of another human being whose life is suddenly meant to be a part of mine. We argue passionately, feel shy, misunderstand one another, have great, yawning moments of selfishness. But with him, it is all a glad surrender, because undergirding our humanity is a foundation of redemptive love. I honestly don’t know how this happened to me – I humbly admit that I am not special, and do not deserve such grace.
I also would like to say that I am not an expert on my own relationship, let alone the relationships of others, or the vast swathe of unknown ocean we carelessly call “love.” Since becoming engaged, others are quite willing to put me in the category of “arrived,” intent on sniffing out a formula. To such bloodhounds, I simply, ironically reply with the answer that so infuriated me when I achingly asked questions of others who had found such generous, happy love. “You just know.”
I look less for the fatal flaw these days – am more disciplined in my thought life and happy to surrender to [my husband’s] assurances of love for me. I know he is just a man – but to be the man for me is a sentence I never thought I could write honestly.”