This one deserves to be read.
You have told me recently that maybe neither of us really knew what love was. What love is.
We were thrust into adulthood at such a young age that you believe “love” was simply “convenience”.
Love is complicated. Love is messy. Love is hard work. Love is crying in the middle of the night. Love is having panic attacks because you’re overthinking.
I wasn’t raised believing or understanding what true love actually was. No offense to my parents (who I know read this), but I didn’t see true love. I didn’t see what a healthy relationship was. I didn’t see the hard work that goes into making a marriage work. And this isn’t the fault of those in my life, everyone was doing the best they could with the tools and resources they had at their disposal at the time. I don’t fault anyone in my life for that.
But I didn’t have communications with those who were in loving relationships. The closest I can remember was the love that my grandparents had for one another. I believe that was love, but I wasn’t old enough, and they weren’t around long enough for me to have those deep conversations with them.
SO WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS POST ABOUT TODAY?
You asked me if I knew what love actually is.
I’ve had to figure this out on my own. And I didn’t do a great job of it a lot of times.
No, I’ve done a real shitty job of figuring it out on my own.
But I’ve had an idea what love was, and I’m now seeing everyday what love is.
Love is compassion. Accepting your partners struggles and burdens as your own and carrying it with them.
Love is patience. Having the capacity to accept and tolerate your partners troubles or struggles without being overcome with anger or frustration. Standing by one another and walking hand in hand, in step with one another and not pushing or pulling the other.
Love is frustration. Knowing that you are not always going to be able to help your partner in their times of needs.
Love is understanding. In knowing that your partner does not always want you to help in their times of need.
Love is commitment. Living a life of your own, but thinking of your partner before you make choices and decisions. Being there for them when they need you most, and always being available when they need a shoulder to cry on.
Love is caring. Valuing your partner’s happiness, wants, and needs as much as your own.
Love is intimacy. In stealing the little moments of the day and making them special between the two of you. A smile from across the room. Pushing their hair back behind their ear. Looking them in the eyes when they speak. Kissing them softly and intentionally, letting your feelings pass from one set of lips to the next.
Love is gentle. Speaking respectfully and with kindness in your voice. Not letting small arguments grow into something much larger.
Love is safety. It is feeling secure being able to speak openly and honestly with your partner without fear of escalation or retaliation. It is creating a space for them to be able to go to whether their day is great, or when it is rough.
Love is vulnerable. Knowing that even though things may one day come to an end, you will not live in the future, but give your all to the here and now. Understanding fear, but pushing through it anyways. Knowing what your wants and needs are and communicating those to your partner.
Love is generous. Giving as much of yourself as you can for your partner. Being empathetic to them and showing up. An equal exchange between each other. Giving your love, attention, time, and affection.
Love is healthy communication. It is not belittling of one or the other. It is listening when they speak. Giving them your full attention. Not cutting them off. Allowing them to express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions and not getting frustrated when it’s now what you want to hear.
Love is acceptance. Understanding that your partner is not going to be able to be able to give 100% of themselves 100% of the time. Recognizing their flaws, but not pushing them to be someone they are not. Knowing that you will never have all of the same interests, values, and beliefs.
Love is hard work. It is always a work in progress. There is no ending. You never reach a finish line. It comes with frustration and anger, fear, pain, all of which take work to get through. It is going to therapy together even when you don’t want to. It is resolving an issue and taking accountability for it when you are the most uncomfortable. Letting a partner walk away and take some time when you just want to work through something.
Love is not making assumptions. That your partner needs to be a certain way in order for them to be worthy. Understanding that they are unique and process things differently. That there is not always more behind a “fine” or an “okay”.
Love is working through miscommunications. Asking the hard questions and pushing for more so you are both on the same page.
Love is allowing necessary space. To let your partner have their own identity and not develop co-dependency on the other. To back off when you are asked, and to understand that not everything needs to be fixed right away.
Love is forgiveness. Knowing that because we are all human, we are all bound to make mistakes. Understanding that mistakes do not define who a person is. That bumps along the way do not change the course of the path you are on.
Love is change and growth. Understanding that the person you knew before is no longer there. And they shouldn’t be. Accepting that people change and grow, but knowing that it does not mean they have to grow apart.
Love is sharing. Your thoughts, ideas, dreams, memories, goals. Your food. Your happiness. Your sadness. Your burdens and your pain. It is not selfishly holding on to the things you are going through because you don’t want to bother the other. It is looking at your partner and saying I want to share this part of myself with you. Please be gentle.
Love is anger. Because anger comes from a place of a deep care in a person or idea. Anger allows you to deeply feel your emotions and process through them. It provides clarity on the things that are really important, and helps sort through the things that aren’t.
Love is crying. Sitting at work in the middle of the day and being sad because you can’t be there to hold your partner. Helping them through tough times. Offering them a shoulder to cry on and reminding them that they do not have to hold back the tears. Crying also lets you know how much you care about something.
Love is the little reminders. Their favorite flower becoming your own. Hearing a song on the radio and thinking of them. Watching a movie and crying because you see your life with them on the screen. Choosing new bedding because it reminds you of them. Driving around town and smiling at all the places you have been and the memories you have created together. Having something happen in your day and wanting to tell your partner right away.
Love is honest.
Love is trust.
Love is respect.
Love is thinking of your partner first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night.
Love is sending them texts knowing that you might not get a response back.
Love is sending messages and reminding them they are being thought of.
Love is action. Speaking less, acting more. Showing you care. Showing you hear them. Showing you respect them. Showing you find them beautiful. Showing you prioritize their needs.
Love is making sure you tell them you love them every time they walk out the door because if something were to happen, you want those to always be the last words spoken between you two.
Love is doing good for your partner without any expectations of getting anything in return.
Love is getting up and doing the dishes late at night even when you are exhausted because you know the mess will stress out your partner.
Love is a partnership. Two people coming together to be better versions of themselves.
Love is doing hard things that you aren’t ready for because it’s what your partner needs the most.
Love is sending funny memes and gifs in the middle of the day just to make them smile and remind them that they are on your mind.
Love is the simple “I miss you”
Love is the smile when they walk in the door and your eyes meet.
Love is working through the past to have a better future.
Love is choosing your partner every day.
I could write about love all day. I see it all around me now. In the smallest details and in the biggest ways.
I have failed showing you I love you in the past. And I will not lie and say that I have always loved you the way that I do now. Because that’s bullshit.
We have grown together. We have worked through hard times. We have hard conversations still to work through.
But I’m not going to fail showing you that I love you any longer. Because my heart is bursting with love and spilling over into the tiny moments of every day. I can not keep this within myself.
So I guess you’re right. I didn’t understand what love was when we first got together. I was in love with you for the person you were and the happiness you brought me. But I didn’t understand what love actually meant.
HOW CAN I HURT YOU IF I LOVED YOU?
I’m figuring a lot of things out. You ask me how I could have done a lot of the things I did if I truly loved you. And you’re asking great questions. How can you heal through things if you don’t know why they happened?
I hurt you because I didn’t have complete control of my emotions. I hurt you because I didn’t understand what love was. I hurt you out of fear of rejection and abandonment. That if I hurt you first, it would be easier than you hurting me. I hurt you because I felt disconnected from you and I thought that having issues would force us to give one another more attention. I hurt you because I was self sabotaging our relationship. I hurt you through recreated emotional traumas from my past.
The honest truth. I hurt you because I lacked the knowledge and maturity to know how to properly communicate my thoughts and feelings to you.
I hurt you because I didn’t see the pain I was causing you.
I hurt you because I didn’t know what intimacy was.
I hurt you because you were close when I was hurting myself.
I hurt you because I was seeking control of our relationship.
OKAY SO WHY THE FUCK DOES IT ALL MATTER NOW?
Because I no longer lack the knowledge and understanding of what love is. Because I am mature enough now to not want control. Because I have accepted that living in fear is not okay.
I’m ready to talk and work through all of the pain of our past. Every last thing that you want to address.
I am ready. When you are ready.
I will not make excuses. I will be accountable and we will work through them together.
And it will all come from a place of love.
And I will show up every single day and show love in every single thing I do.
WHAT IS LOVE?
You have shown me what love is. I see it in the things you do every day, even now with everything going on in our lives. That you push through tough conversations and don’t walk away. That you initiate spending time together even when you’re having a hard day. That you get up and do the things you don’t want to do, because you care about the people around you. That you are putting yourself first when you didn’t feel others were prioritizing your needs.
So what is love?
It’s always been you.