They say you can find love at any age but, when is the time exactly right?
I feel as though no matter what age you are, you always get short-changed in some way.
When you’re young, all you hear is that you can’t possibly know what love is at this stage of the game. That your naivety will leave you heart-broken, time and time again – and your stupidity will make you easy prey. When you’re older, you become more and more jaded with each bad relationship passing – with things like hope and trust gone forever!
So how do you win at love? How do you attain it in its proper form? How does it find you, when you are your best self?
I find myself thinking about this a lot lately. Being almost 47 years old now, I feel as though falling in love at this age may be tainted.
Like most women, I’ve been in love with the idea of being in love, probably as long as I’ve been alive. Throughout different stages of my life, I’ve pictured what it would mean, who it would be with, and how it would feel. When I was a younger woman in my very early 20’s, I was much more open and free about love. I saw love as the absolute gift that two people could share together. That no matter what age you were, love would always keep you safe, blissfully happy, and young at heart. As I grew older, my feelings toward it seemed to change.
I find myself very fortunate that the first time I ever fell in love with someone, it was utter magic. He showed me, love, in its purest form and we both basked in it for as long as we could. It was never jealous or conceited, only innocent and oh so beautiful. I knew right then and there that I would always want love to feel exactly like that. Although I am grateful beyond words for that love, it also made it so painful for me to move on from it. I never thought that I’d ever love anyone that much, ever again – at least not in that same way. Not in that fun, raw, free-spirited, and innocent way. That was surely lost forever.
Throughout the years, I gambled with my heart quite a bit. It’s incredible what you will give away to feel that intoxicating sensation, over and over again. Only, it’s like Cocaine, laced with Fentanyl – not the real thing and never to be found again in its purest form. If love was a drug, I would be a heavy, medicated addict for life. In a lot of ways, I think I am. It’s scary how much you will give up or settle for, just to get a taste of it. The kind of darkness or pain you allow yourself to go through just to keep hold of it, a little while longer. Losing all your self-respect, and giving up who you are just to say that you've won at love. And in the end, when it's all over, wondering if you ever had it at all. It’s utter madness. Just like a verse in my friend, Chris’s song – “Love is like suicide”
I’ve looked for love in places that I’m not proud of and the versions of love I found were anything but a magical fairy-tale. It left me continuously filling voids with more and more emptiness. But how do you stop wanting it or needing it? I knew that my addiction was anything but healthy. I continuously chose the pursuit of finding love at any cost over my own self-worth. The entire time, not even realizing how much of myself I was actually giving up for what I later understood was not love at all. It's a shame how long it took me to figure out that what I once had in the beginning and what I had since were nothing the same. I got lost in the thrill of the chase and forgot to check in with myself. It wasn't only that the woman I saw staring back at me in the mirror was unrecognizable, but the inner me, the essence of me, the younger me - was vanishing.
So, I took a break from it all. No more love for a while. I was sober for just about 4 years. During that time, it wasn't that I ever really stopped looking for love but, I tried to give myself what I always felt that I needed from someone else. I began working on my career and trying to build the kind of woman I had always looked up to and admired in others. I wanted to break free from the hold love had on me. I longed for independence, strength, and the self-worth that I knew I always deserved but I wanted it from myself, instead of it being validated by a man -and I was doing just that! I was finally realizing that loving myself had to come first because who would ever love you more? My intentions were pure ones but, if I'm honest, I'd have to admit that I was reinventing myself so that I could finally win at love, as well as soul-searching. We all have a laundry list of all the wonderful qualities and things that we need to be attracted to someone else for a lifetime but seldom look inwardly to take inventory of what and who we are. In order to attract that which you want in another person, you must first be all those things yourself. Like does attract like after all. It's the law of attraction. And there I was, wanting so much but being so little myself. So I changed!
I was sober for 4 years. Did I mention that? Finally feeling worthy again. My body, mind, and spirit were more at peace. I could listen to anything I wanted on the radio, watched any movie that I came across - without tears, fears, or memories. It felt great to be in control again. I finally realized that the only love I wanted was good love. Real love. That kind of love didn't hurt or make you feel worthless. This kind of love could not be hurried. It would take patience. What I had once been after (at any cost) was not love at all but a mere imitation of it. That was where only fools rushed in. So, I left it in God's hands instead. He once showed me what love should exactly be like, all those years ago. Surely he had something like that in store for me again.
But, like all addictions, it just takes one hit to fall down again.
When this "love" came knocking, I was ready for it. I was wiser now, stronger now. I wasn't going to get sucked into the wrong type of love with any more unworthy advisories. That was my story and I was sticking to it! But, somewhere along the way, I was tricked. This one was different, this man was different - or so I thought. Before I knew it, I had abandoned all my affirmations and fell in, head first. Little did I know then that this was the one that would finish me. I didn't realize that I was only being tested. More clearly, that God was testing me. It's kind of like that old saying, "Why does God bring your ex's back around, just when you've finally forgotten about them? Well, it's a test. A test to see how stupid you really are. You fall for that same fuckery again, then you haven't really learned a damn thing. I sadly report that I failed that test -miserably!
So there I was, on the ground again and in worse shape now than I could ever remember. When this one ended, something inside of me broke - and it all came rushing in. The pain was indescribable, which was weird because I hadn't spent a lot of time with this person, nor did I love them. So why was this experience becoming my destruction? What I later realized was that this situation was the event that broke the camel's back, sort of speak. I was done! I had nothing left. All the trust, all the belief I had was gone. The fairy-tale I had once believed in, I knew didn't exist anymore. That feeling, that love of once upon a time, was just that - once upon a time. A one-off. Now, all I wanted was to be left alone. For the first time in my entire life, love to me was dead and I was ok with that. In fact, I preferred it that way. I didn't want to ever feel this way again. I refused to ever give in to anyone, ever again. It was better this way. The only person I could count on was myself anyway, and that's how it should be. I trusted myself, I believed in myself, and most importantly, I loved myself. I would never be capable of damaging the woman I was if I only walked this life alone. So, I set off to do just that!
Then, something very strange happened. Amongst all the turmoil of the storm, he walked in. I barely took notice. To all of his questions, I gave a firm "NO". To all of his intentions, I gave a stern "I Don't Care" To all of his beliefs, I gave a wicked laugh in return. Yet, he remained, planted in friendship if nothing else could be. This was a trick. I knew it was a trick. So, I went about my life and paid him no attention. Yet, he stayed. He spoke about his life and was joyful. I held a solid frown, where my tears sat, as I listened. He shared when I didn't. He carefully kept his distance but continued to speak to me from behind my iron wall. I never budged an inch, yet, he stayed. As time went on, I unknowingly gave him tiny, little parts of me. A smile sometimes, when he did something thoughtful. A little laugh at times when he said something funny. Before I knew it, we were friends and although he wanted everything - he took humbly what I could give. Never asking for more, and never forceful. He was gentle and kind. Although he and I were strangers, something about this felt so familiar but, I couldn't put my finger on it.
Time went on and he stayed. He moved around me as if his only duty was to watch over me. Like a tiny, wilted flower, almost near death, he gave me as much water, sunlight, and love to help me grow strong again. The entire time giving me room and space to heal. Not for him but, for me. Everything he did, always, just for me. Any time my tears fell, his tears fell. Not in pity or shame for me but, in pain for my soul.
Soon, another season changed and he stayed. What was even more remarkable was that I had stayed. I was right there. Things were slowly changing and it felt so easy, so free. Again, reminding me of something that I couldn't remember. Until one day, I did remember.
Since that day, I've been a little less cold, a little more smiley, and a lot more bubbly with him. But what I am is a lot more scared than I have ever been before.
How can I possibly fall in love at this age? I mean, could I ever do it justice?
I now come with all this pain, distrust, and cynicism about ever falling fully in love again. I come with the baggage of my past in full light. Not knowing if I will ever be rid of it. No one could possibly love all of that. Could they? It is absolutely fair that this man has earned the right to run faster and farther than any of the others before him because he surely has reason to. Yet, he stays and I am still afraid. Afraid that one day he too will leave because I have driven him mad with all of my uncertainty, which is why I have asked him, begged him to leave me so many times. But he stays. He not only stays, but these words of mine make him want to be around me even more. I will never understand this. Which is why I ask again, the questions I posed at the beginning of this blog:
So how do you win at love? How do you attain it in its proper form? How does it find you, when you aren't your best self?
I am more broken now than I have ever been. I trust no one, I believe nothing. I am so jaded about love that it truly hurts me. It hurts me because this could be a man that is most deserving of the best version of me and all he receives is the worst parts of me - and yet he stays. He deserves to have me free of all my fears and that's truly all I want to show him. Me, the real me. The me I was before 19. The adventurous me, the free-spirited me. The me who wanted to take on the world, the me who couldn't be stopped. The really happy me, the funny me. The confident and sexy me. Most of all, the me who always loved with all her heart. It's just unfair that he can only see this other me.
I want to let go, but I'm afraid. Afraid that if I fully open up again and I fall in vain, that love will surely kill me this time. So, I open up just enough but never completely. Yet, he still stays.
And now, I'm falling. : )