I do not think it is possible to represent the entirety of what love is in writing, the spoken word, art or in any expression for that matter. At the exact same time, each person has the unique ability to represent what love means to them and how they have personally experienced it and it would be undeniably accurate. The dance between what love is and what love is not, how it is expressed and how it is received varies from culture to culture, family to family, person to person.
Although the physical and emotional appearance of love differs, it is amazing how the central experience of love is universal.
Being young, we are told our age does not allow us to fully understand what love is, that we haven’t lived long enough to be able to separate infatuation from true feelings. We are told understanding love comes from experience. Love is not a destination we work toward or something we reach with maturity; it is the cause of our maturity. It isn’t an end destination; it is the day-in and day-out interactions we have with others that in turn give us the puzzle pieces to make sense of how we want to live and the place we make for ourselves in this world.
My own understanding of love changes on a day-to-day basis, and the transitions of what I knew to what I am learning is painful. Although I am young and have only had 20 years of experience on this complex earth, I have created my own definition of love based on my experiences.
- Love is a friend sitting patiently by my side through the roughest season of my life, patiently nurturing the hollow shell of a person I became. It is not only accepting, but also cherishing the transitional period of weakness and pain I was going through because they know who I truly am and who I can become. It is riding through the sorrow and negativity that I emanated because they knew the light they possess could pull me out of my darkness. Love is my friends.
- Love is my significant other choosing to practice forgiveness rather than resentment. Starting each day with a clean slate rather than a score board. It is him releasing anger, hurt and blame and meeting me with compassion, understanding and humility. It is the resilience of his soul to refuse to desert me, even when I gave him every single reason to leave. It is his refusal to define me by my hurt and weakness and to look further down and name me by my true self of love and compassion. Love is my significant other.
- Love is the exhaustion of my parents. It is the working of 3-4 jobs each in a single week to provide my brother and me with a life of comfort. It is neglecting their own wants and rest without question to make sure we do not fall. It is the random message in the morning checking up on us and wishing us a good day. It is the millions of selfless acts they have done for us that I will never know about. Love is my mom and dad’s ceaseless ability to make me feel deserving of all they do for me. It is their acceptance to let us walk our own paths even though they wish we could stay with them. Love is my mom and dad.
- Love is my grandma being there to support me in every single important moment in my life. It is the tears I shed when I was six as we left her house and headed back to Houston. It is the joy I felt in my stomach every time she would pick up the phone for our nightly chats. It’s the moments of sadness that blankets over me every single day, 11 months after her death. It’s waking up from dreams of her several times a week, wishing she was still here. It is the legacy of service and humility she left behind. Love is my grandma.
- Love is forgiving myself. It is having the bravery to deconstruct the unspoken regulations society has set in place and finding a way of living that feels most at home to me. It is being patient with myself as I withstand pain and hardship, because I know something greater is waiting for me on the other side of this struggle. It is making myself a priority in my own damn life, no matter how others feel about it. It is politely dismissing anything and anyone that disrupts the path of who I am and who I am becoming. It is not only accepting, but also cherishing everything I am and everything I am not. Love is me.
I do not know much about the complexities of love, but I do know true love goes hand in hand with true pain. It is signing the waiver; understanding that leaning further and further into vulnerability increases the risk of debilitating heartbreak. This risky transaction is worth it to me because the feeling of love and connection with the other person is more important than the chance of separation. Love is accepting the risk of pain.
I really want to know how you know love to be true to you. Please leave a comment with experiences you have had that paint the picture of love in your life.
Thanks for reading,