Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Love, Actually (or I Hate Dictionaries)

Dear readers,
I hate dictionaries.
Actually, I'm an English major, so that's false. I get abnormal amounts of joy from learning what what words like "perambulator" and "clandestine" and "flossy" mean (yes, the urban kind counts, too. Sometimes.)
But the dictionary has no idea what poetry is. It can't define freedom. And it is absolutely clueless about love.

Take one:

...Okay, "constant affection"? Ain't nobody got time for that! I don't care how much I love you, I will eventually stop feeling affection for you long enough to go get myself some food. And maybe read a book. And what about when you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the wrong place or eat the last of the ice cream without telling me?!?! Does my irritation mean I stopped loving you?

We're done here.

Take two:

...Well, the verb edition is always somewhat better. But the whole"desire" thing bothers me. Like, I think lust and love are two separate words for a reason. To think love means only to desire someone makes you selfish at best and a total creep at worst. Love goes so far beyond that. Moral of the story: don't get your life philosophy off of Google.

So. Where do you get it? Real, actual love isn't hiding in a book somewhere.  I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about it, but I learn the most from trying to do it, which is a growing process involving lots of trial and error.

Act I
Did I mention I hate trial and error?  Specifically the error part. In my idealistic fairy-tale-reading mind that started on this crazy journey years ago, love and errors had nothing to do with each other.  Love was the one thing that was supposed to be error-less, perfect. In fact I'll take this opportunity to apologize to the first one or two poor guys I had crushes on, because I'm pretty sure I drove them crazy emulating a princess or Taylor Swift or whatever.  The point here being not to dwell on that long gone awkward phase (that I take comfort in knowing almost every teenager ever has to go through), but that love can't be an acting gig, even if you really really want to be some character that you perceive to be perfect.  Hint: they're probably not.

Plan B
 And once you drop the act and start putting your real self out there...welcome to the minefield. You will have to unpack many myths about love in your mind, and each lesson will leave you more vulnerable than the last.  Letting go of your mask is certainly difficult.  After all, if there is no "constant affection" for the polished, presentable version of you, how could the one eaten alive by doubts and fears and anxieties be lovable? But believe me when I say the scary version is the best version, the real version.  I tried safe love, which wasn't really love at all.  It was mutual affirmation.  I was perfectly accepting.  I was the eternal optimist, seeing only the good in people, and waking up from the dream was crushing.  I had fallen in love with idols that didn't exist.  I think I had hoped others would do the same for me; I, too, could be a myth, a perfect human, at least from a point of view that was not my own.  Inside I knew I was still far from ideal, but I wanted to be held more than I wanted to be fixed.

 Battle Plan 3
Hate is not blind.  When you feel unloved and you hate yourself, you will see everything.  Each flaw noted in your character will engrave itself on your heart making you terrified of being seen.  But in order to overcome this fear, in order to be stronger than hate, love can not be blind. Not to sound too Freudian, but you can't just forever suppress your dark side.  In fact, the part of you that feels the most hopeless and unlovable is probably the part of you that will crave love the most and drive you out of hiding.
 But it's also the part that will destroy you or even kill you if you feed it.  It's the part that when "loved" just grows darker, obscuring the person inside.  It's the part that can turn a princess into a monster. Vices are vain; they like to be noticed and the more you notice them the more they demand your attention. They swell up inside you leaving no room for anything else to breathe, so when you love them you are only hurting and suffocating the person you tried to love.  You need your flaws to be understood, certainly. To see only the good is a lie and thus is not good enough.  Seeing the demons and not running away is where love starts, but it does not end there.   You think it is rare to bee seen for who you are, but there is something yet more difficult to find- perhaps because you almost don't want to find it.  

You need someone who's willing to die with you. 

No, not in the Romeo-and-Juliet sense.  In fact, I don't advocate suicide at all.  But there is more than one way to die, and you have to choose one or go crazy.  Either your pompous, swelling, poisonous vices will kill your hope, or you must kill them.  The battle has already begun within you and it must be reconciled.  This may seem impossible and chances are you have avoided the fight.  Most of us do, most of us are so afraid to fight ourselves (the worst enemy of all) that we think the Jekyll and Hyde conflict is irreconcilable. But we are only irreconcilable if we refuse to be crucified.  Figuratively.  Being loved is what gives us the bravery we need to see ourselves as we truly are.  When someone loves you, they know all of the wounds that drain your happiness from you.  They know your secrets and they know the truth that you are not okay just as you are- not because they've judged you and you're not good enough for them, but because they can tell you want more for yourself.  The way you are doesn't scare them, or if it does their love is stronger than their fear.  You might even try to push them away but it won't work.  You will have no choice but to choose whether to love them back...and whether to believe in yourself like they believe in you.

Love always requires sacrifice, love always imposes demands.  The best loves are the ones that gently demand that we kill what is harming us and resurrect into a whole new life.  Love will put arrows through your heart, if you let it.  And after that, you will never be the same. I would avoid people who think they can change you, that's usually an indication that they're stuck at the idealistic fairytale level.  But even more, avoid people who think you will never change.  I promise you, even warn you, once you truly fall in love there is no going back to the past versions of you that will begin to die.  Love will see you as you are and will not move.  You will tremble under its gaze.  You'll run out of places to hide.

But finally, you will surrender...and you won't mind it at all.  Someday you will be ready to give up everything you have for the one you love.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I don't love dictionaries.

(Also, thank you to anyone who has been in my life and taught me anything about love, painful or otherwise I'm still very grateful. <3) 


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