I think I understand a bit more about love than I did 25 years ago.
At first, for me, I loved my Mum; she provided for me, gave me kisses when I needed attention and was there for me always. I didn’t know that it was love, but she was the only constant I had in life; steadfast, never running away. Because of my Dad I had abandonment issues as a child, so this helped me a great deal.
Love was Mum, and that was great!
Then as an older boy I began to focus on doing the things that I loved; seems strange perhaps, comparing my love of interests to parental love, but it’s all the same, just at a different depth. I was a keen golfer as a kid. I was so good I was once picked for my national team; yet, my boundless energy and crazy excitability made me a bad fit for a golf course.
You must see them on TV, the adults. All so well behaved! I don’t believe the world was ready for Happy Gilmore just yet. But I loved my golf, and I couldn’t be without it. It was an essential part of me.
And then there was my first love: a girl, at school, that I was inseparable from. People would say I was too young to know what I was feeling; yet there it was, the undeniable belief that I couldn’t be without her. She didn’t know of course.
At the time I didn’t think anyone knew…but now I realize they probably did and likely discussed, yet didn’t mention to me, perhaps to save my feelings. I was shy and anxious. Looking back, I can see it was counterproductive to be so reticent. I’ve learned the more imaginative you can be, the more likely you are to be secretive.
But who will know if you don’t tell them?
Would Michelangelo be praised for the Sistine Chapel if he were to paint it in a place no-one was ever going to see? Would Leonardo Da Vinci be one of the world’s most revered artists were he to never to share his artwork? Would I have ever had a date with a woman I liked were I to never tell her about my feelings? It’s simple human connection basics,
“I like you, let’s copulate.”
Or something to that effect.
But love can be destroyed; it can be torn down from the very fabric it was built it up with.
Like when my addictions had become a problem for me and those around me. My love for everything and everyone remained the same, but it became hard on the people in my life. They still loved me, of course; but my actions hurt, like a stake to the heart. I couldn’t imagine my Mum’s paranoia and soul constricting fear when she found out I had sold my golf clubs for drugs and that I had given up school for College.
That was a big blow for Mum. I was a good kid. I was set to go to University after school, which in the UK is at a higher level than College. College is where you go to if you didn’t do as well at School and need a boost to your education, or if you leave School too early. I had all the good grades and all the raving reports with extracurricular activity, but the feeling for me, it just wasn’t there. I felt I was being gently moulded into something I wasn’t, so I kicked off and rebelled.
Mum was devastated. The drugs, the alcohol, the people I was associating myself with; there wasn’t a patch on quitting school and not following up on University. I ‘loved’ the idea of it all. But it wasn’t me. There was a zest for life I had back then; I wanted to explore, test, create. I needed my Dad to help, but he was stuck in the same zone Mum was. He couldn’t see what was best for me. Only what he ‘thought’ was best for me.
I destroyed my entire golfing career that year too. Sold my whole set of golf clubs for drugs. A year earlier I was being shortlisted for the Scotland youth team, and here I was selling club after club for my next fix. If I wasn’t drunk I was stoned; sometimes I was both.
And it was a hefty mix of life related things that led me down that path. I loved golf, I really, really did. Often, I think about it, what I’ve missed out on and the courses that I could have played. What my handicap would be like now.
Love can be abusive.
Yeah, it’s safe to say that I loved my drugs. Alcohol is a drug. But it was an abusive love, one that challenged me to the very core of my being. I loved the feeling being under the influence gave me: having no barriers, being able to say what I wanted and not feeling bad for it.
Yet it was abuse because it wasn’t a nurturing love.
As well as the good things that were brought to the surface, the bad were too, and magnified tenfold. And when I had no money to buy my love? I cheated and stole. My addiction was like that one person you can’t say no to. That one person you love so much that they know all the buttons to press, and mostly keep you on alert mode.
That’s when I started falling in love with people from the Internet. Particularly one lady from America. She knew how to press my buttons, she knew how to have me reaching for the stars and equally crumbling in the fetal position over something unimportant. It was that kind of love that’s sticky, that has you completely besotted with your amazing partner, as your friends slowly but surely drift away into the background.
A mere shadow of your once great self, doing things, not usually you, but for the sake of love, you do it anyway. An abusive love, but you don’t realise it; some people never do, and they remain entangled in toxic awesomeness for the remainder of their lives with endless relationship problems whilst their partners slowly suck the soul from them.
Love can destroy you, if you let it. But it can also change you for the better.
I found my love for life at my lowest depth. Sat there, on my own, with no-one but myself to console with. I found my love for life when I realised I was on the path to death, in an unmarked grave around other people that family had given up on. I didn’t want to die that way. It’s when I truly found myself. That I wanted more from life, that I deserved more, and I was going to give myself more.
I found self-love.
I began to love myself. How could I let anyone else in if I didn’t love myself? After all, I’m the only one that it’s guaranteed I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. ‘Til death do us part, truly. I started taking care of myself on a level that I hadn’t before. I had loved many people and things, yet hadn’t learned to love the most important thing of all,
I fell madly in love with me.
And from there I learned to love others.
I deeply love my wife. We met nearly ten years ago. We were both hurting from the ups and downs in life, both of us had been used and abused and flung around like emotional punchbags at our previous partner’s whim. Our eyes, you could see were terribly worn, almost vacant of zest from the bleakness we had experienced. Our minds jaded with thick black cloud of abusive smog from past relationships.
But we finally witnessed the beauty in life, from two terribly hurting people with so much love to give, fear of hurt, our only hurdle to jump, we blossomed into something amazing together. We both opened like sunflowers in amazing hot, sunny white sunshine and won the race, together. I prop her up in life, and she props me up. We nurture, we inspire and we create. Every day is a new day and we live it together.
I love most things in life, now.
So, to me, love isn’t one way of being. It’s many things on many levels.
Love more, forgive more.