Thought Catalog
May 4, 2017

This Is How Love Gets Easier AND Harder As You Get Older

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What is the issue?
Caroline Veronez

I’ve been clenching my jaw a lot, so much so that my jaw is literally aching as I type these words. My neck and shoulders are tight and I wonder if this is the beginning of my becoming a grumpy old woman? I am, after all, wearing my grandmother’s housecoat, my stepmother’s penguin fleece pajama pants and a scowl on my face. Both women are now deceased and both women knew how to clench their jaw and be forces one wouldn’t want to reckon with on A GOOD DAY.

And so, here I am, with tissues stuffed in the pockets of my grandmother’s housecoat and thinking that the aches in my shoulders are a sign that it’s going to rain soon.

It’s official. I’m old.

But despite all of what I mention above, it’s hard to believe I am actually 40.

Forty. How in the holy freak of hip hugger jeans and 1990’s Jennifer Anniston hair did I get here? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was turning 30 and thinking of how life would be at this age? This age I am right now – this magical age in which I had convinced myself that I would have it all figured out.

Life would be somehow easier.

But life is not easier. In fact, it is pretty much all chaos and confusion for me because the things I’m dealing with are things I’ve never considered. I never thought the bundles of stuff being thrown my way would ever be a problem in my life. I don’t think there has been one day this month that I haven’t cried and/or asked myself the question, “What am I doing wrong?”

That’s what I keep going back to – that I’m doing something incredibly wrong.

Communication. Everything I’ve read about dealing with relationships of any kind is how important it is to communicate. Listening. That’s another BIG one. (You can’t really communicate effectively if listening isn’t part of the equation.) And yet, in one particular relationship, I may as well be communicating to a rock and listening intently to it.

It is a rocky path to constantly be on when you’re feeling misunderstood and very much unloved. And as dramatic/movie cliché as that sounds, it is exactly how I’m feeling. I’ve been playing it off for months as if I’m the one, the one who has their wires crossed and I’m being sensitive.

Yet, that’s pretty much the reality of my truth.

Everyone deals with disappointment and sadness in their own way. I’m pretty forgiving and will stretch the lines of deal breakers because I love deeply. And then one day, the line can’t be stretched any further. I stop trying to be understood. I stop trying to find those pieces that will be the perfect fit to make someone else happy. When a person isn’t having their needs met, especially needs that are pretty basic on the needs spectrum, it is inevitable that one day, the scattered pieces that should be put together remain broken. What’s the point in picking them up and finding the perfect fit? In a week, month, maybe even a day, it’ll be broken again. It no longer becomes important because it takes more than one person to pick up the pieces and care where they belong.

It takes two. The two people who created those pieces together.

It isn’t rocket science. It isn’t all shades of complicated.  It all comes down to loving someone enough that you do things to make him or her happy. And if you can’t (or won’t) because of whatever reasons you’ve conjured up in your mind, then you know it isn’t love. If there is a person keeping a constant tally of what they do for you, especially if it is financially, then fuck it, I say. You know when someone truly loves you. When they continue to love you when you’re wading through the muck life has thrown at you, that’s love. Love isn’t always pretty and it isn’t a perpetual flow of happiness, but the actions to loving someone aren’t hard. You make it hard when you quit trying.

My jaw clenches, my shoulders ache. I pull out the tissue from my housecoat, the housecoat that used to belong to my grandmother, and sigh. “Yeah, it’s probably going to rain,” I tell myself.

“But just imagine how beautiful the sun is going to look afterward.” 

The sun shines over the line and I notice there is still more stretch to it. And despite myself, I begin to pick up the scattered pieces of a relationship because…love. TC mark