Love, it is inexplicable. It can build us up when it is returned and it can break us down when it is not. To love someone is to open yourself up completely and allow yourself to be vulnerable. It is quite possibly the most frightening thing that we do. In love there are no guarantees, there is only hope. Hope that the person you open yourself up to is worthy of you. Hope that you will have that love returned.
Aside from romantic love, there are so many other sorts out there. Self love, the love of a friend, familial love. All of them are as important as the romantic sort, yet somehow they often get overlooked. So, in a rare fit of transparency, I am going to take you all on an adventure through my love ups and downs. Here is hoping some of my hard learned lessons might help someone else out there.
My first hard lesson in love was the self love sort. I suffered from low self esteem as a young teen. It is a common thing what with the influx of crazy hormones and the constant barrage of images on television of what it is to be beautiful. I was awkward and strange and I never quite fit in, but I really did not want to change myself either. It wasn't until I got to high school that I made big strides in this department and that is all thanks to a guy named Brandon. "How can you expect anyone to love you if you don't love yourself?" He posed this question to me and left me reeling at the truth.
I could not possibly expect someone to love me if I did not love who I was. So I set about making peace with my weirdness. I embraced all that made me different from my triangular frizzy hair down to my bizarre sense of humor and fashion. They were all parts of me and I learned to love it all. It was miraculous what a difference it made. Now, don't get me wrong, like all angsty teens I still had my issues. I still felt less than worthy some days, but overall I was happy with the person I was. I made peace with myself.
The next two sorts, friendship and familial, well I have been more than lucky in that department. I am blessed to have one of the most supportive and loving groups of friends in the world. But more will be noted on them in the friendship life lesson. Just know that I am overwhelming blessed with friend love!
Familial love, well that one I am extremely thankful for. I come from a large extended family that has always been a chaotic ball of love. I have an amazing sister and my parents, well they have been married over thirty years. They have showered me with love my entire life. I never grew up thinking that I needed to be anyone other than myself. My parents have always embraced my weird and encouraged it. They encouraged me to pursue studio art in college and even now encourage me in my writing endeavor. Perhaps the most important thing they have done is shown me what true love looks like. Sometimes it takes work, sometimes you have to go through some really hard bits before you get to the easy stuff, but in the end it is ABSOLUTELY worth all of the work.
The last sort, the romantic bit well, that one has been a very rocky road for me. I allowed myself to get swept up in the notion of love at a young age. I thought that I knew exactly what I wanted but found myself constantly changing who I was for a guy. I would end up with guys that liked the idea of a quirky arty girl, but not the reality. Once I was with them, they would try and change me. I don't know if they ever really even knew they were doing it, but alas I would lose myself every time.
It was not until I hit the very rock bottom, when my standards had all gone to crap, that I realized the perfect man for me had been there for three years patiently waiting. My husband pursued me. He knew he loved me well before I knew what kind of man I really needed. I kept him in the friend category far longer than I should have. He was my best friend and I knew if we ended up together I would either lose him or it would be forever. It scared me to death. But like the good friends they are, my three best friends told me constantly that he was the one to just suck it up and accept it.
The best day of my life was the day I finally said yes to him. Now, I am surrounded by a love that is real. He knows me and loves me just the way I am. There are no conditions. He takes me to the ER and sits with me for hours even though he is on leave. He makes me laugh even when I feel like crying. He is the very best part of me. I love him in a way that makes every other time I thought I was in love seem ridiculous. I know for a fact that I am loved. And the best part, well he gave me someone else to love. Our daughter Alex. And that, the love of a mother for a daughter, well there are no words to explain that love.
So here is a little snippet of Izzy. She has had a hard go of it in her life. She never gave up on love though. In fact, it is her love that makes her able to overcome some serious adversity. I hope you enjoy!
“I’m just so tired Kennan. I am tired of fighting. I am tired of being strong. I tried to be for you. I did, but I don’t think I can anymore.”
“Well then I will be strong enough for both of us.” His gravelly voice was like a balm to my soul.
He forced me to meet his eyes once more and just looked at me. A thousand emotions played behind his eyes. Regret, fear, anger, compassion, and most of all love swirled in their depth. I stared back as the tears streamed down my cheeks.