Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Is Love?

It’s been such a long time since I've written a post. I haven’t written for lots of reasons. This year has been filled with lots of ups and downs – more ups that downs :).  I went through a pretty deep depression. I started seeing a counselor. I ran my third half marathon. I almost lost and quit my job twice this year. I traveled west of Chicago for the first time in my life. I've had some of my favorite people move away from Kalamazoo. I learned to better love myself.  I’m learning to let myself off the hook and not be so hard on myself. I fell in love for the first time.

I came across the article below by Mike Iamele and wished that I had been eloquent enough to write it. The author’s words/heart/thoughts articulate my feelings on love so very well. And as I have walked through my relationship with Dave over these past fourteen months, I have learned I used to believe in a fairy tale. But now I know better. I know that real love is so much better than a fairy tale version. Real love is sticky and raw and fun and hard and imperfect and beautiful. I am so thankful that Dave has stuck by me as I have had to unlearn my false idea of love. He has helped me know how rich and amazing it is to truly and authentically love someone – including loving myself that way. And it is my heart’s desire to continue this journey of love with Dave for many, many, many, many years to come.  

Growing up, I bought into the fairy tale of love. I bought into this idea that I’d meet this handsome man in the most serendipitous of ways, and we’d get married. I thought that I’d buy him a fancy watch for Valentine’s Day, and we might travel to the Caribbean a few times. And we’d have our 2.5 children. And that’d be life.

Looking back, I realize that’s not love; that’s the movies.

Love is when you’re at a party talking excitedly, and you catch your partner starring at you out the corner of your eye, with that knowing smirk on his face. Love is when you see someone sleeping, and you think – no matter how cliché it sounds – he really does look like an angel. Love is when you forget about how big your nose is or how saggy your butt is because, around that person, you always feel beautiful. Love is when you realize, for the first time, that someone is seeing you, the real you – WHO you are, not WHAT you are. And you finally get the difference. Love doesn't have a ton to do with Valentine’s Day. It doesn't have to do with expensive gifts or suburban homes or even 2.5 children. It’s not about Caribbean vacations or fancy cars or even all-dressed-up beauty. Love is a sweatpants thing. Love is a jeans thing. It’s a you-at-your-worst thing. Because love makes you realize that there is no worst. There is no best, either. There’s just you. There’s just a person who’s growing and changing and evolving. And, in the eyes of someone else, that’s beautiful. Love isn't heavy. It isn't dramatic. And it most definitely isn't something you need to gossip to all your friends about. Love is light. Love is playful. Love is so much fun that you forget it’s work. But it’s not supposed to be. Sure, there are struggles. Sure, there are down times. But they’re really just growth times. They’re really just points where you’re challenging each other to grow.

As a culture, we’re so in love with love that we try to make it something it’s not. We try to fake it. We try to manipulate it. We try to distort it. Maybe if we’re funny on the first date we’ll find love. Maybe if we wear that sexy dress, it will come. But the truth is – all anybody wants to see is you. With your flaws and imperfections and less-than-ideal features. Because that’s the only way that the person who really, really loves you can find in you. They've been searching for you their whole lives. You've just been hiding behind those cool sunglasses or fancy dress or nice watch. The best way to find love is to give it – not to others, but to yourself. Love yourself with all your heart. Take yourself out on dates and treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Know for a fact that you don’t need anyone else. That you’re complete as you are. That who you are is radiant and beautiful. But having a partner on this journey wouldn't be so bad. It’d be kind of fun. And when you love yourself that much, you can’t help but show the real you to the world. You can’t help but boast how freaking awesome you are. And people get to see what they've always been looking for.

I’m no expert. I never went to med school. I never studied sexual psychology. All I know is love. I know that when you catch your partner with some food on his face, you can’t help but crack a smile, that you've found something special. Something that says, “Hey, I’m freaking awesome, and I love myself, and I deserve you. I’m in love with you, and you deserve me too.” Everything else is just a fairy tale. Just someone else’s story.

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