Love. Such a simple word for something so incredibly complex.
Everyone desires to love and be loved. From the very first moment we set foot on Earth until our very last breath. We arrive with arms wide open, our hearts free of all the pain which we have yet to taste, we give our love without concern for whether it is returned, and we embrace everyone equally. With each passing year, we gradually learn that love is not as easy as we believed it to be. Our hearts get bruised, our feelings hurt, and our unconditional love slowly accumulates conditions. Our arms cross over our chests to protect our tender hearts, until we hug ourselves so tightly that nothing gets in or goes out.
Love means so many different things to so many different people. It is a double-edged sword, able to cut us free from our chains, allowing us to soar to giddying heights free from restrictions, yet it can also slice to our very core, leaving a wound which never heals. We desire it desperately, chase after it tirelessly, make sacrifices for it, and will do anything to have it. When we find it, it overwhelms us with its power, it is more awesome than we ever imagined it could be, and we run away, afraid of what it will do to us if it ever catches us.
When someone loves us, we fall in love with ourselves too. It is electrifying, exciting, passionate, warming, gentle, and exquisitely divine. Nothing else compares. Yet as fearless as love inspires us to be, it also awakens our deepest fears. Rejection haunts us like a shadowy spectre. Loss frightens us from the darkness at the edge of the light of love. We wonder if we deserve it, if it is real, if it will last, and if we can handle it. Why must the bliss of love be accompanied by so much secret terror.
Love opens our heart. A marvelous sensation. We become intensely alive, aware of every breath, every beat, the blood rushing through our veins, the slightest touch against our skin. Our emotions engulf us like a tidal wave and carry us off to a strange and beautiful land. But an open heart is vulnerable, even though a heart in love imagines itself to be completely invulnerable.
Why do so many relationships which start out wrapped up in the amazing ecstasy of love end in turmoil and torment. How can something so beautiful and light turn into something so ugly and dark.
The answer is straightforward and a bit twisty all at once. Love is a natural force, it is fluid, ever in motion, it transforms and evolves, passing through several stages as it moves through us.
There is the initial delicate dance when two souls meet, and recognise something special in each other. Tentative steps are taken. Getting to know one another. Feeling, sensing, wary yet enchanted. Then, a leap of faith occurs, and two beings fall in love. They are swept off their feet, and the dance becomes a wild and magical whirlwind of passion and delight. The world around them disappears into a blur, they are alone, caught in the intoxication of their united feelings. Nothing bad can ever touch them, they are protected by a force field so strong that they cannot get out and nothing can get in. It is utter and total bliss.
Eventually the whirlwind subsides, placing the lovers carefully on the ground, on the path which will lead them through the next stage of love if they are willing to walk it together. The calm after the storm part of love often confuses people. The excitement of falling in love is very addictive, and people believe that being in love should be that exciting forever, all consuming, an endless frenzy of heightened feeling. Many lovers part company at this point, under the impression that the love they had is over. Some people only want the fun bits of love, and do not have the stamina to get them through the hard bits. One day, eventually, they may feel ready to face the challenge, and reap the rewards that it has to offer. We must respect the rhythms of our life, and not force ourselves to do what we are not ready to do. We need to love ourselves, as much as we need to love others.
The calm part of love is a very tricky time. When in love, we finally feel secure, our hearts have opened, and feel safe. This is what our inner selves have been waiting an eternity to happen, because all those things which we buried within us, when we were adrift on a loveless sea, are now able to surface and be acknowledged. All our fears, insecurities, wounds, issues, rise up and out of us. They hope to be healed by love. For love has tremendous power to redeem us. All our unfinished battles, the fights which we were too weak to face alone, suddenly appear before us. And so begins one of the most difficult parts of love. The tests, trials, and tribulations. Pedestals get rocked, knocked over, and smashed to smithereens. Our masks fall away, our imperfections, faults, flaws, and dark demons are exposed. We are no longer the prince, princess, hero or heroine, but the witch, warlock, evil queen, or beast. Our raw unmasked self is face to face with our lover’s raw unmasked self. Day after day, night after night, with nowhere to hide. We look at each other in fear, begging to still be loved, for better, for worse. We need love to save us. To turn all that is ugly about us into beauty. To help us to love ourselves. To make us feel whole. To give us meaning, and give purpose to all the suffering we have been through.
Many relationships fall apart during this phase. Those that make it through are changed beyond recognition. Their darkness has been accepted, recognised, understood, by the light of deep and true love. Two people united at first by bliss, find themselves joined by a bond so strong it will last for all their lives, even if they should ever decide to go their separate ways. For it is woven into the very fabric of their beings, residing in every atom. Love knows no bounds, yet it binds everything and everyone together.
There are as many types of love as there are people in the world. This is just a small glimpse of love as viewed through my eyes, and my experience. If you have yet to find love, know that one day it will find you, probably when you are least ready for it, and least expecting, as it did with me when I had completely given up on ever being loved, and loving in return. It surprised me, and continues to surprise me. I’m still not sure why the person who loves me, loves me. I know why I love them, but sometimes even my reasons for loving them elude me, I just do. I try not to question love, but I can’t stop myself sometimes from doing so. That is a part of love too. A constant discovery, sometimes good, sometimes bad, always intriguing.
I would love to know, what is your experience and view of love?