The only reason I’m remotely aware that Valentines day is a few squares away on the calendar is the over abundance of reminders. Thank goodness Macy’s has perfume on sale and Walgreens has stuffed animals holding chocolate in their weekly ad so I can remember to love myself this one day a year.
I’ve never been a hopeless romantic although I have been caught up in the expectation game of love based Hallmark moments more than a few times in my life. Not only did I hope this grand event would unfold before my eyes, because that means you really really love me, but I’m going to up the game and not mention one thing about it because you should just “know”…..most ridiculous behavior on the planet. I’m willing to guess that there are people reading this grinning because they have either thought of or been played like this. I’ll never understand why this one day a year is treated like green double zero’s on a roulette wheel where the odds are stacked against you 37 to 1 but you’re willing to bet an entire relationship on it hitting. Maybe it has to do with our definition of what love is.
Our examples, experiences, values, etc. are the initial groundwork for defining love. We may have grown up in a household where parents were still married and life was “normal” by societies standards. Maybe we experienced our single parents balance dating and maintaining a household. We could of had conversations with people that were at our center of influence that offered us advice on life and love and we’ve carried that with us a lifetime. We only know what we know-simplistic statement but valid. If we rely only on the tapes loaded in our heads from the things, from the experiences that are truly meant to give us a starting point when we make our way out to discover what was best for us then that’s all we’ll ever know.
But no one ever tells us it’s ok to find our own normal. It’s ok to feel something or nothing at all. No one tells you that you’ll fall in and out of love with a lot of people and that it will even happen with the same person over the course of time. The most profound and painful thing we are never ready for is that the people you love won’t always love you in the same ways and that people leave; they leave to find what’s meant for them. It’s all these things and so many more that add more words to our definition of love and we may even find the need to delete some- however it evolves is personal and it’s all ok. Only you know what’s right for you.
So this definition, this living document we keep housed in our head and heart that changes as we grow, as we’re hurt, as we let go….what is it? I can only speak for myself and my own definition. Love today on the cusp of 47 is nothing like it was in my 20’s where love was a tangled mess of validation through physical experiences and the need to feel desired. And the definition is far removed from the decade of my 30’s where self sacrificing and getting lost in an idea of what my life should be ended in divorce and more emotional baggage than I knew what to do with. Then years started to pass in my 40’s and that’s where I began to understand what self love is and how I was never ready to be loved because I didn’t even know myself well enough to have boundaries and practice self preservation. It wasn’t until I got my head right that I met Ken and experienced some of the most profound healing of my life. There would never have been enough time to love him and for as much as this journey through grief has taken from me I remain a whole person with all the beautifully broken pieces he helped me put back together.
Love- Webster’s list it as a noun but it’s just as much a verb as the word life. Love comes in the form of friends, lovers, soul mates, family, and strangers. Love is believing in someone so fiercely that their dreams become your own. It’s how you feel around someone and how their energy and vibe leave you wanting more- it’s craving that feeling like it’s the air you breathe. It’s hearing a vulnerable tone in their voice and you realize they trust you enough to let their soul spill over into yours. It’s being miles apart and being able to find home in them with every unspoken word. Love is the graciousness you feel when someone accepts the love you give them- there is no need for reciprocation or thank you’s- it’s the understanding that they are a gift to your life.
Love is forgiveness and love is forward moving. Love is hearing laughter as a symphony and seeing crooked glasses and ten extra pounds as unimportant in comparison to the way you finish their sentences or the way you think the same things at the same time. Love is freedom to be who you were meant to be- the goofy, insane, emotional, deep, wondrous you. Love is realizing that we don’t fall in love we rise up and give it. Love is the absence of ego and the desire for perfection and love can’t be found where it doesn’t exist and it can’t be denied where it does. Love is what gives us our why and our how on so many days spent lost in our own heads. Love is being brave enough to help someone be the best version of themselves.
I don’t know what love isn’t because I’ve learned that I’m only responsible for what I put out in the universe and how others receive or reject isn’t about me at all. When you love that way and stay true to who you are and what your definition of love is it seems to be inexhaustible and the more you give the more you have. We weren’t meant to walk this earth alone and love is the beacon that helps us find our way to another soul meant for us; a person that isn’t afraid take giant leaps or baby steps as long as their by our side. A person who shows you everything holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. This soul mate will shake you up, tear apart parts of your ego, show you your obstacles, and love you with all their heart the entire time. They are some of the most important people you’ll ever have in your life.
Definitions aside I hope your Valentines day is whatever you need it to be but more so I hope you use the other 364 days of the year to love as much as you live and to be fascinated by the possibilities that a steady wish for the good of someone else can do and bring back to you. So truly, at the end of the day and maybe even at the end of our life, what really matters is how selflessly we gave love even when we didn’t feel worthy of it ourselves.