Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Love: Are You In or Are You Out?

One of the truest and most powerful life lessons I have learned along my pathway walked thus far is this.  With regards to love...you have a choice and its one you do need to and will actively choose to make when falling in love with someone and embarking on what you hope to be a long-term, resonating love.  Especially if you want it to be just that.

And that monumental question is this: are you in, or are you out?

What exactly do you mean by that, many people reading this may be thinking.  Obviously I am "in" since I am actively dating this person, some of you may be scoffing.  Obviously I am "in" if continuing along in the relationship and if I have strong romantic feelings for them.  Obviously I am "in" if I see strong potential for a future with this person, right?  Not so fast.

Yes, all of these are good indicators of your being "in" so to speak, but many people proceed forward in their romantic relationship seemingly on the outside, even having strong feelings of caring and love for this person inside of themselves, yet, while within their hearts and the depths of their emotions...they are not quite, fully, totally, all in.  Allow me to explain.

Many people love but with their hearts slightly guarded.  They love, but with caution.  They love, but with one foot ready to run if need be.  They love, but with hesitation and uncertainty.  They love mostly, but not quite completely.  Either, having been deeply hurt by a previous love, or even having felt hurt by something that occurred within this current relationship.  And thus, a wall goes up around their heart.  A degree of protection they have deemed requisite. 

So, while they have strong feelings for their partner, and still continue actively and even enthusiastically through the motions of the relationship, now though, a part of their heart remains tucked away.  In their minds, safely.  To prevent future detonation and heartbreak if/when such a hurtful moment or loss happens.  This is faulty thinking though, it results in a watered down, significantly less poignant relationship, and here is why.

Why is this type of feel-good thinking a mirage? 

Because in any and all relationships, when you have feelings for someone, there is both a risk as well as certainty, of hurt occurring.  All relationships in life...familial...friendship...romantic...platonic, they all entail pain, and even eventually, loss.  The people we love will die, or leave us in some other way, or, we will leave them.  Its part of the admission price of relationships and love.  Its what we sign up for when entering into them.

That is not to say that a person should settle for unhealthy, shitty, hurtful relationships.  When I say that all close relationships entail pain, this is not what I mean.  Relationships that are toxic, unhealthy, abusive, shitty, or hurtful, these are in another category and should not be relationships we choose to have in our lives. Instead, I am talking about good relationships with people who respect us, treat us well and love us...and yet, these too will entail some degree of pain as well.  The important takeaway with this paragraph is identifying which one each of your close relationships is.  If you do have unhealthy, shitty, abusive or toxic relationships in your life, those should be axed.  And for the good, healthy, supportive, positive ones?  Keep and treasure them, just know and expect that there will still be times and moments when even they will hurt you by mistake.

One of my favorite, most well loved and oft read books is called "The Friendship Factor: how to get closer to the people you care for" by Alan McGinnis. Its absolutely excellent.  Of the 1,000 something total books Ive read, this one certainly makes it into the top 20, for sure.  Within this book, McGinnis talks about how some degree of pain and anger are present in all emotionally close, intimate relationships.  That the people we love, and yes, still those who are good for us, will let us down sometimes.  They will hurt us by mistake.  They will screw up.  This is a normal part of human relationships.  Thus, when you only half love as a means of avoiding pain in loving?  Its a futile and misguided effort.  Within all deep love, there will be some degree of hurt.    

People who are abusive, cruel, toxic, or mean?  Probably not worth suffering for.  Its the ones who are supportive, loving and good, these are the people that, when they do mess up and bring you pain, they are probably the ones still worth suffering for.  The key is figuring out who is which.

All close, intimate, loving relationships will have joy, beauty, heart rending and luminous moments, periods of growth and challenge.  And they will also have moments of anger, misunderstanding, hurt, loss, even on occasion much pain.  These two contrasting composites are par and parcel with emotionally deep, emotionally close loves and relationships.

And here is the truth: whether you keep a slight guard up or not, if/when a love ends and there is loss, it will still hurt badly.  And if anything, it will hurt even more after the fact, in knowing you only half loved...that you kept yourself at bay...that you didn't truly give it your all. 

Residually, after the fact?  From your side, it will feel like a cop out...a cheat...loving like this (in only a half-invested way) setting one up for much regret, of much wondering after the fact that, had you had loved more bravely and fully, might it have played out differently, wishing you had been more courageous.  You will ache even more for what has ended or been lost, knowing you didn't immerse yourself in it fully while you had it.  To use a silly but fairly fitting metaphor, if one only has a single, restrained, guilt and fear laden bite of their favorite dessert, then throwing the rest in the trash, the rest of your afternoon will be spent mentally coming back to it, longing for and still craving it, wishing you had just let yourself have and enjoy it fully.  Allowing yourself to let go and be completely, daringly, bravely in love?  Same thing, on of course a much larger, more powerful scale. 

Whether your relationship ends or not, at least in giving it your all, your whole heart, everything you had, you will know that you did so.  And that my friends, is a beautiful, brave, worthwhile, and awesome thing.  You will never regret having loved fully.

There isn't much else in life that adds such richness, magic, and fullness to ones experience as loving with bravery, depth, utter completeness of the heart, and with every part of ones being.  We as humans are obsessed with love for a reason.  Writing about, singing of it, discussing, reading, dissecting, searching for, and lamenting about it, all of which taking up so much of our life experience.  Love, deep loving with reckless abandon, is one of the most poignant experiences a human being can have in their whole life.  Ripe with power, opportunity for growth, much magic, feelings of fulfillment and joy.  Its both the hardest and most life affirming, magnificent, powerful thing you will ever do, if you so choose to.

I made the mistake in my first relationship of doing this.  Having been deeply hurt by more than one thing he did, as well as in combination with the trauma of my childhood, keeping my heart ever so slightly at bay and tucked away through the entirety of that relationship.  Granted, there were other issues and mismatches within the relationship too, but this was one of my own grave errors made.  And this is no way to love.  Its a sad, half assed, laden with potential for regret way of loving.  Really, it isn't loving at all. 

Because love requires courage and faith.  Something a lot of people do not allow into their hearts, especially within a culture that prizes above all else, approaches like being aloof, "playing it cool," having the power, not displaying any sense of vulnerability, all to the max. 
When you live like this though, you miss out.  Big time.

Faith and courage are major, paramount aspects of real, genuine, heart rending, soul moving and life changing loving.  Without them, one cannot fully love.  Because to love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person.  Love is an act of faith, and whomever is of little faith is also of little love.

And yes, loving this way is a choice.  To love someone is not just a strong feeling.  It is also a decision, a judgement.  In our Westernized culture, we say love is mostly something that appears suddenly, a spontaneous, emotional reaction of suddenly being gripped by irresistible feeling.  While this is a small aspect of love, in general, love is much more an act of will and choice.

So, the choice is yours.  Are you in? 

Do you want to half love, which really, is only half living?  Or, do you want to gaze into the vast depths, not knowing what lies beneath the surface, but to jump in anyway.  Are you brave enough, hopeful enough, daring enough, and excited enough, to embrace this richness and beauty that loving someone fully, whole heartedly, completely, offers you and the thrall of your life?  Are you out, or are you in?

No comments:

Post a Comment