I have had many experiences in the “love” department, many. There were loves that grew on me; the kind of love that you work at, and because of all the work you put into it, the nurturing and growing, it turns into love. I’ve had one experience where love came naturally, it came so easily. It felt so real, so pure, that it convinced me of true love, you know, that I can’t live without you, I wish I had only met you sooner, everything feels so right, all is right with the world, I love you from the depths of my soul gut quenching love. There’s no denying how good it felt, but also how fucked up it had me. It had me all kinds of fuuuuucked up. I mean, don’t get me wrong, other loves have given me that feeling, but none like this one.
There was a time when I started to develop the habits of cynicism. I questioned love and its meaning – if he loved me then why is he saying this or doing this, if he loved me why hasn’t he listened to me telling him what I need from him, if it was love why does it not feel like it… And, the list could go on and on. I then started to believe that the love depicted through words, movies, and music was just something that was overly exaggerated by nostalgia, fairy tale, and fantasy. I thought, “who falls in a love so deep that they would do anything to keep that feeling alive, every day?” I was always under the impression that love was something you worked at, not felt. When there was a feeling of love, it was just a simple, I love this person.
That all changed. It changed with one glance, one message, one private moment, one touch, one conversation, one night… I embarked on this journey not knowing what I was getting myself into – the pain I would feel, the struggles I would have, the sacrifices I would make, the loneliness I would experience, and the continuous heartbreak I would endure. There is not one bad experience greater than the other. I look at each experience as learning stones that have helped me figure out exactly what it is that I want, need, expect, and what I will/will not endure. These experiences have given me clearer vision on how I define love.
Imparted Wisdoms 1. Start fresh, start new – When walking into a new relationship, walk into it with absolute resolution from the old; whether it be that you need resolution or the other party needs resolution. Starting something new with a person who’s still dedicated (more than half, half, or slightly), sets the tone of how you will be respected. A lot of wavering occurs and its always a tug of war game, whether you want it to be or not. What you essentially do is imply the impression that you don’t think too highly of yourself because you’re willing to settle for someone who’s heart is confused, waiting for them to make a decision, while you have the power to choose to be with someone who doesn’t have the extra baggage. So, start something new with someone who doesn’t make you feel like your feelings aren’t a priority, with someone you don’t need to convince to stay with you and invest in you, with someone who already has their shit figured out. To piggyback off of this, don’t settle for a relationship that has to stay hidden. If it has to stay hidden, no matter what the reason may be, it’s already a failed life together. 2. When in doubt, leave – Starting something new can bring in a lot of uncertainties, especially when you’re used to something else, coming out of a bad relationship, or you’re just not sure about the other person just yet. But, if your doubt continues throughout and you still choose to continue, ignoring those uncertainties, is a cause for disaster. What that does is hinder you from completely letting love enter. In time, ignoring can pacify the doubts, but it won’t be too long before the pacifier breaks. 3. Always be yourself – The beginning of every relationship is always great, but the honeymoon phase leaves and you start to live your day to day life. You get caught up in the everyday actions of life and you start to (for lack of a better phrase) let go of yourself. You find the quirks about a person; although quirks, they can be endearing, annoying, pros, cons, lovable, dislikable, and maybe even deal breakers. But, if that person makes you feel insecure about your flaws, shames you, makes you feel like you can’t enjoy certain things, or questions your choices, then it’s time to leave it be. You need not be with someone who doesn’t allow you to be whole, to feel free to enjoy the things you did before he/she came into the picture, to be completely who you are no matter the place and/or time. As long as who you are doesn’t break any laws, why not let your hair down and laugh about the stupid things, crack jokes that are inappropriate, sing as loud as you want to, blast the music and dance in front of the mirror, get on snapchat and post something, or be weird? 4. Allow yourself free time – When we get into relationships, we make it our priority because a real, working relationship is an investment for the future. But sometimes, we get so caught up in it that we tend to forget about ourselves and the continuous investments we should make in ourselves. Take the time to get away with a few friends, self-care by doing things like going to the gym or the spa, do the things you would normally do alone because at the end of the day, it’ll give you and the other party involved the opportunity to be yourselves and to appreciate one another. 5. Always communicate – No matter how little it could be, always communicate. I left out big because it’s pretty obvious that big and even bigger things warrant a conversation. As time goes on, we tend to let the little things go because it’s just little, right? Well, that’s the wrong mindset to hold on to. The little things, when not brought to light, turns into medium sized things, which then turns into big things and eventually bigger things. Or, maybe it’s never mentioned because you or he/she takes care of it; although it’s been taken care of, still communicate. Communication shows dedication, respect, trust, and it embodies love. 6. Never tell a lie – There isn’t one person on this planet who hasn’t told a lie. If you’re sitting there nodding your head like I haven’t told a lie, then you’re lying. But this topic is kind of a touchy one because we’ve all told white lies within a relationship: I loved the movie, that was a great dinner, yes honey I enjoyed the ballet, that dress looks great on you, your haircut looks nice. But, you have to stop and think, by telling this white lie, am I helping or harming this person? So, make it a habit to be truthful but tactful: honey the dress isn’t the best on you so let’s find a better one, babe the ballet wasn’t that interesting but I loved being there with you, not your best dinner but thank you, not the best haircut but you’re still fuckin hot. By cutting out the white lie, you’re showing the other person respect, you’re creating a relationship where you’re able to create mutual openness, and you’re able to just be yourself. When we lie, or omit information, essentially, we are deciding how the other person will feel. We lie or omit information because we decide that they won’t be able to handle this or they won’t like how this will make them feel. By lying, the impression that’s given is that there is NO respect for the person and/or relationship. 7. Sympathy versus empathy – Sometimes, it’s not about sympathizing with him/her. When you sympathize, you tend to want to fix it for him/her because you don’t like seeing this person hurting, stressed, or angered. Sometimes, it’s about empathy. We all need a way to unplug without feeling like we need to be fixed. Instead of sympathizing quickly, listen to what is being said. You’ll hear the difference between the two and you’ll be able to assess the situation. Sometimes what a person really needs is a simple, I’m sorry you’re having a rough day, let me pour you a glass of wine, tell me all about it. I may not be able to refrain from finding a solution to help you, but I’m here if you need an ear or a shoulder. 8. Enjoy the little things – The farther along we get into the relationship, we take the little things for granted. And, by little things, I mean showing daily appreciation for one another, writing little love notes, saying please and thank you, a simple thinking of you or I miss you during the day. The little things get lost in the midst of things and become few and far in between occurrences. But during those few and far in between occurrences, have you ever noticed that the little things are the things that get appreciated and noticed the most? 9. Never stop dating – There’s a difference between a couple who are entitled boyfriend/girlfriend versus married. When you see those couples who aren’t entitled married, they look happy and in love. They are the couple who are still dating one another, who still get butterflies when they get a text throughout the day, who plan elaborate date nights, who hold hands, who share their adoration of their person to the world, who gloats about their person… Even when married, NEVER stop dating your person. Those are the couples who walk around holding hands after 50 years or marriage, who can still look at each other with adoration, who work just as hard as they play together, who builds a great future together, who are admired by their children/grandchildren for their great love. 10. Love yourself first – Before you can love anyone else, love yourself first. How can anyone love you, if you, yourself, doesn’t love you? By loving yourself, you attract like-minded people. Overflow yourself with love and your relationship will overflow with love.
I’ve learned different lessons within the span of my lifetime of relationships. Some of them may not resonate with you, the reader, but these things resonate with me because these are things that I have either fallen victim to, or haven’t practiced within my relationships. There is not one person who is more at fault than the other, we are ALL responsible in our failed relationships; we either allow it to happen and choose not to let the other person fix it, or we allow it to happen and it becomes the standard in the relationship. Because of these things, I’ve been able to round out what love means to me, what I need to know that I’m loved, and what I can do to show that I love back.
Although I’ve listed 10 different lessons, the ultimate lesson that has made its way back on this course of life – never build walls around your heart. The hardest challenge I have had thus far is to refrain from building walls so strenuous, so high and deep that no man will be able to break them down. The walls would be built from pain and anger, signs that mistakes haven’t been learned from, the heart hasn’t healed properly, issues from within aren’t being worked on, insecurities are alive and well, and forgiveness hasn’t taken place. In turn, holding onto these negative things hinders self-love. Taking the time to build these walls would just signify that I am not ready to move on, whether my heart is ready to, I have essentially closed it off from receiving good vibes. Building these walls wouldn’t be fair for the next man, because he’d have to break them down or fix what he hasn’t broken. Be whole before moving on.
I decided that I couldn’t and wouldn’t allow myself to grow angry or hold hatred in my heart. And, by doing so, I’ve been able to move on with an open heart and mind. There’s a difference that I’ve noticed as well. When I held such negativity, I attracted people who were attached with baggage so heavy that it carried onto our relationship, whether it be a friend or a romantic partner. That baggage carried onto the relationship that in the end, no amount of trying could save it. The foundation was already destroyed before we could even destroy it.
The last several months of 2017 has been an eye-opening experience because it has allowed me to fully seek solace within myself, to seek the issues that needed attention, to allow myself to forgive even though no apology was given. I knew that I had to go through the emotions of sadness, pain, and anger. In the past, I’d pacify these feelings by immersing myself into relationships that meant nothing or relationships I had no intentions of investing in. Once I was done pacifying, I’d throw those people away. In other words, I’ve had jump offs and rebounds. I decided that I would not continue on that path. And, by deciding to do so, I have been able to forgive. I have been able to smile genuinely. I have been able to find happiness in my loneliness. I have been able to create a means to an end of the negative thoughts and feelings. By doing so, I have been able to open my heart to positive things and like-minded individuals. No baggage. No half assed dedication. No drama. No toxicity.
What I have truly taken from each and every single experience, lesson, moment, situation, what have you, is this – love shouldn’t be hard to come by, it shouldn’t be hard to feel or see, and it shouldn’t feel like a burden. Yes, love is easy to give and receive, but love takes work because it’s a feeling that should be treated as an investment, just like happiness is an investment. At the end of the day, if it’s real true and powerful, if it’s meant to be, it’ll feel effortless no matter the situations you are faced with together. And, if it’s not meant to be, fuck it, because you should be in fuckin’ love with your damn self and that shit’s real.