Love’s Laborious Labors

As much as I am sure I am a modern thinking, able woman, I can be so damned sappy sometimes. My archetypal damsel in distress faints, coos, and writes fanciful poetry while waiting for her knight in shining armor to rescue her. Fiction provides these romantic pairs that we idolize and are deeply faulted but love always overcomes in the end.

But love, more often than not, ends.

We turn to fictional characters and their easily categorized issues, let love make them stronger so that they don’t have to be alone. Disney princesses rescued from their peril and handsome men to save the day.

It’s toxic in many subtle ways. Women are lead to believe true love means not having to explain what your needs are and not to make the first step. Men are taught that good deeds earn them a woman’s affection and that problems have cut and dry solutions. Men always want sex and aren’t allowed to express emotion. Women are overly emotional and don’t really ever know what they want. Bad, overused stereotypes that none the less comfort us and tell us everything is going to be alright. Silly cultural constructs, gender roles are for the unenlightened!

One of my deepest held, passionate beliefs that I have failed to grown out of is the belief in true love. I love so hard when I am allowed, only to realize that there is no happily ever after and that real love is work. Usually too much for one side or the other. I connect too deeply trying to pair my soul with another. For validation, for life points, for hormonal ecstasy or something else I am not sure. I just keep having this nagging feeling, deep down to the fibers of my being that I am meant to love someone, and that together we grow into our best selves, encouraging each other grow and to face any oncoming storm as one. It requires deep, deep trust, constant practice of communication, shared values and the ability to compromise. It seems like being a strong individual means a certain level of detachment and the building of barriers to remain in tact. Yet there seems nothing so sublime as the feeling that you are able to take those barriers down around someone.

Each time that I part ways from someone I truly care about, it feels like the last piece of my heart has been ripped from my chest. It feels as though ever attempting love again would be a fools errand. It feels like I gave myself to someone and can’t get it back, that they now have a piece of me whether they know it or not. Bryan, Peter, Alex, Sam, Zach- men who I made a commitment to with at least a little of my heart.

I tried to convince myself I was part of a vampiric romance novel. I felt a spiritual connection so deep I swore I had found the love of my life. He said all the right things and brought me into his home. We had physical chemistry that lit fires across rooms. And I put so much hope into someone so different. I loved them and I am sure, in their own way, they loved me. They said they did after all.

And yet they have been: polyamorous, too young to settle down, a pathological lair, had incompatible values, and unwilling to reflect vulnerability. I, in turn, have been: possessive, self-depreciating, overly-emotional, stubborn, and “deserve someone better.” I would like to think that each of us will find a person whom we deserve and deserves us as well. The mature part of me even wants to admit that it is fine if it isn’t me.

Lovers, not necessarily men I have been in love with, seem to be the best outlet for my romantic fantasies. Kissed in the kitchen during work, dancing and knowing something secret, a touch or glance here, stolen caresses in the corner of a party. My sexual development has been the most influential in embracing my personal power, and I hear that’s what people fall in love with. But I am also made of pain and deep despair and lethargy and moments of impossible expectation. I am human and I crave to let others show me their human side as well. I want, more than anything, to share love and pain and weakness together. It needs to be complete intimacy and ecstasy to be fulfilling, friendship and familial love just don’t cut it.

And it all comes down to chemistry verse compatibility. It is hard to tell the difference from the inside. What I want is someone to look at me with such longing, such fire, that their eyes scream “You are unbelievable! Infuriating! It makes me want you all the more inside and out, right here, right now.”

I want to grow old together and be able to maintain that kind of chemistry. I want loyalty and openness and to support each other grow and discover ourselves.  I try to tell myself I want to be independent, but this is so much closer to the truth. And yet I feel I as though I am asking too much and only barely survived the last heartbreak. To try again, risk it all trying to get a lifetime high connection. I am not sure I have the energy to invest myself in anything I might care about, and the thought weakens any resolve to get back on my feet.

I keep hoping that a gear will simply switch in my head to give me better understanding and hope and stamina for the next great adventure. Love, career, self-improvement, it all comes down to not wanting to get myself hurt or commit to something that is less than what I deserve. So I stay low, not searching or making myself really known, waiting for love and passion to reel me back in when I’m ready whether I know it or not.

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One thought on “Love’s Laborious Labors

  1. Will Pennington says:

    Me too. A universal, me too. Sometimes, though, the problem is that the feeling we have when we love someone but know it’s over, has the effect of an addiction. We know we should say goodbye and leave forever, but our brain needs that fix. And we overstay. Overstay! Even when the other person leaves. Love withdrawals hurt the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

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