I don’t know when I first knew, but I have known for a while that love is a verb. Hard knuckle breaking work. Still, when I met love, I almost missed it! Like driving by the junction where you are supposed to turn left, on your way home and realizing it when you see the road sign for the next junction. GPS would remind you to take a U-turn, but sometimes, in real life, it feels like there are no U-turns.
I almost missed love because, like most of us who have a complicated childhood, where toxic adults reigned supreme; I had no idea how love should look like. How should love feel like?
The Bad years
Like everybody else, I have had some awful bad years. Terrible years of not knowing what to touch, and what to drop. The worst years were marred with feeling abandoned, self doubt heavily spiced with self hate. Feeling lost sometimes, in mazes I created. Some years, after I broke up with a deeply loved individual, I felt used & misused. Unlovable. Not because I really am unlovable, but because the love on the table wasn’t enough.
How I survived these years? By finding the parts of myself that were lovable and trying to love them. Plus finding the parts that were injured, and trying to soothe and heal them.
How I soothed and healed the injured parts? Well, by doing the things that calm me. There is so much trial and error in finding the things that calm us, but it is so worth it to keep doing the labour of looking. I always loved reading. Reading is such a fantastic way to hide from relentless human connections. Reading is travelling, without ever leaving the comfort of a cozzy soffa or bed. I always loved to travel too – travel as a way to run away from difficult people or situations. Or travel to get away from myself.
So, reading and travelling became a good mix of escapism for me in the beginning of healing.
Writers write about us without ever meeting us. One of my all time favorite poems is Unending love by Rabindranath Tagore. When I first read it, I did not think about someone else I loved. My entire body and mind thought of myself. This is how I wanted to be loved! These are the words I longed to hear from and feel from another person. Without hearing them from another person, these are the thoughts I wanted to have about myself.
To believe that I could be loved in this deep, for several lifetimes. Often, I have gone back to this poem to find inspiration on how to love myself.
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times.Rabindranath Tagore
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
I knew I didn’t want the love I saw or experienced during childhood:
- stays but is not really available.
- goes behind you back.
- hurts constantly.
Most of us learn about love through living & making mistakes. Over time, we even find that the things we did to escape life, are infact life-saving activities. I have found reading and travelling are not just escapes, they are acts of love and self-care. To read is to learn, to learn is to grow, to grow is to heal. To learn, grow and heal is a journey that needs to be travelled in any ramshackle availble.
4 times when love is not enough:
(1) Low or non-existent Compatibility.
Comaptibility can be many things – intellectual, emotional & sexual. If we are not compatible, eventually everything becomes such a struggle, it breaks the both of us down. Mentally and emotionally. To communicate, to have sex, to take a long walk in the woods, to travel to the romanti Paris, to just sit together & have breakfast requires a level of compatibility. Without compatibility, it doesn’t matter how many Paris trips we can afford together – love turns out to NOT be enough.
However, compatibility is a complexity that may require compromising and lots of communication. It doesn’t matter how compatible a couple is, keeping the compatibility relevant is essential.
Imagine the elation when you realize that you both love Paris with all of two hearts. And the confusion when you fight every time you are in Paris together. Simply because one of you loves the museums and the history, and the other loves the cafés and fine dining. Paris visits become a source of conflict that ruins Paris visits for both.
(2) Low or lacking Respect is the end of love.
For every relationship, boundaries have to be set & boundaries have to be respected. If the boundaries sound unreasonable, they need to be re-negotiated respectfully or the love will not survive. Boundaries cannot be over-stepped without re-negotiation where respect is present.
In my experience, when compatibility and respect are properly balanced, communication issues are few and severe misunderstandings far in between. Apologies are genuine and forgiveness easy. A person who feels appreciated, loved & respected will be more forgiving. A person who feels unappreciated, unloved & disrespected is more antagonistic, bitter & unforgiving.
(3) Lack of We are our own little Gang mentality/attitude.
Politically correct members of society say “we are in this together” or “we are a team”.
For love to be enough, one has to feel that they belong with the other person. Totally. Like Lily & Marshall. So glued together that when a 3rd person even considers attacking, annoying, gossiping, looking down on one of you; the other jumps the 3rd person! Immediately & brutally. You have each other’s backs & you keep each other’s secrets.
One team actually mean the god of the team comes before individual wins. But, I do not advocate putting another person’s needs before your own, all the time, and for long periods of time. Of course, this goes both ways. The other person should not be expected to put your needs before theirs, all the time, and for long periods of time.
That is abusive.
There is need for a simple understanding and accepptance that your needs are not more important that your partner’s. And they are not less important. Unless we are in a crisis, where we all put our needs aside and focus on helping each other.
(4) Lack of commitment which leads to Plan Bs.
Plan Bs are a love killer or a love challenge at the least. In my experience, a case of one foot in, one foot out, usually means both feet out.
If there is some other person, place or experience that feels more interesting, more important, more exciting than your partner; then love will not be enough. Especially if most of these things feel more fun when done without the partner. If mother dear is better at most things. Or your best friend always understands you better. When that fight you had yesterday made you wonder if you really should be together.
The answer may well be that you do not belong together.
Would you add something to this list?
What are your deal-breakers when it comes to love relationships?