Is This Love? Can I Rationalize Love?

Every time I try to write about it, my mind is rendered blank by a confusion of emotions that refuse to be simplified into words. Each time I try to explain it, only cliché song lyrics or lines from love poems seem to come closest to describing what I feel – abstract enough in their depiction so as not to define it exactly, yet grand enough in their imagery and symbolism to capture the depth and complexity of what I feel.

As much as I try to rationalize – to define the source and give possible explanation to it – the more I am inclined to instead spew out melodramatic and grandiose statements of what you mean to me: the kind of statements that seem ridiculous when spoken yet somehow accurate portrayals of what I feel. The kind that I used to hear others say and think they must be poetic depictions of something universal – a way of translating something simple and straightforward into something metaphorical for the sake of beauty and literary artistry – but not a literal description of their feelings.

Home is whenever I’m with you.
The world makes less sense without you.

Never did I think I would find myself saying such words to another human being, nor to mean them so deeply and honestly.

When I was next to you, I felt complete. I felt safe. The kind of safety that isn’t blind to the realities of the world or the confusion and messiness that is life, but the kind that gives you the strength to face it head on – to know that regardless of whatever lies ahead, you will be fine: because you are not alone, and because you are whole. When you left, the world suddenly became unrecognizable; my surroundings quite literally ceased to make sense. It was like a huge part of my being had been violently ripped out, leaving me with only a broken fragment of myself to now navigate this foreign place I once called home. It was enough to make me sink into myself and want to crawl through the floor – to the point where I emotionally and physically could no longer pick myself up.

Around you, I was irrational. The feelings always came before the words. The pain came before the comprehension. The contentment felt so natural that only in its absence did I realize my attachment – my addiction – to it. With you, I felt like I didn’t need anyone or anything else. Without you, it always felt like something was missing – something that, until that point, I hadn’t even known I needed in my life.

You made poetry feel like reality:

From the words of Rumi:

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” 

To those of Maya Angelou:

“We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life.”

Never did I think I would be quoting love poems to describe my feelings for someone.

Never did I think the first time I contemplated whether I was in love, it would be for another woman.

And the most confusing and unexpected part of it all: I had feelings for him first. Strong feelings. For months, I had longed to hold his hand; I pictured what it would be like to call myself his girlfriend. Whenever we spoke, I would feel enlightened – as though I were speaking to someone who held the insights of the world in his mind, whose words I never ceased to find inspiration from, and whose kindness and spirit always left me feeling happier. I had never felt that way about someone before. I knew it wasn’t love – especially because I knew he didn’t and would probably never feel the same way about me – but whatever it was, the feelings ran deep.

Until he loved you.

And until you loved him back. Neither of which I saw coming. Maybe I was blind to the build-up or refused to see what was evident. Maybe it was because you also refused to believe it for so long: denying it to yourself and to me – the friend that had feelings for him first – until it was undeniable. Maybe it was the abruptness by which it all seemed to change, but from then on, being around the two of you felt like having the air sucked out of my lungs and my mind stripped of all reason and comprehension.

I knew it would hurt for a while. You knew it would hurt for a while, even though you didn’t want to hurt me, or anyone else. Still, when it is love – when it is something you’ve never felt before – you do what feels right. And I could understand that. It didn’t make it hurt less when it happened, but I could understand. And I had no right or place to not understand in any case; it was you he loved – never me.

But as the months went on, you thought it would get easier for me – and so did I. Time heals all: even those things which concern matters of the heart. If not to full peace of mind and heart, then at least time would bring me to the point where being in the same room with you two would not leave me feeling broken down and shattered, hit with a force of emotion beyond my understanding. But not only did time not heal, it somehow seemed to deepen the pain – all whilst deepening the confusion which surrounded it. I hated that I couldn’t control it – or that you thought there was reason and explanation to the sadness and anxiety: that I felt hurt by you being with him or that I refused to let go of old feelings for him even when he chose you.

The hardest part of it all was exactly that: the depth of confusion as to why it still hurt. There was never thought or intention behind it – simply emotion. Unwanted emotion – perplexing emotion – irrational and overwhelming emotion. Only now do I know that some of it was the depression – the kind of deep, unexplainable, and drawn-out sadness and loneliness that comes from a place outside of yourself – holding its tight grip over your daily thoughts and actions. The kind that seems stronger the more you try to resist it – only to realize the feebleness of trying to resist something you don’t understand and can’t even identify the source of.

But can depression in itself be the source of the emotion? Or does it merely exaggerate and amplify the seeds of something that is already there?

If there were some seeds, they couldn’t have been feelings for him…I couldn’t have held onto such old sentiments after all this time, after accepting and seeing the two of you so happily together all these months. And yet, I thought, it must be that I still feel something for him even if I don’t fully see it – and just can’t concretely articulate it. Why else would it continue to hurt like this?

But then, in taking a step back, I let myself consider the possibility of other reasons. After all, he wasn’t the one that occupied most of my thoughts; he wasn’t that one I felt a deep yearning for or sense of emptiness in his absence; he wasn’t the one that made me feel most at home; the one I wanted most to cuddle with.

The thing is, there are so many kinds of love out there – the boundaries of which are not always so clear. Love between best friends can be one of the strongest bonds in life. But is it the kind of love that inspires poetry? And can platonic love evolve into something more when the emotions become so strong, and the love deep enough…even if the physical attraction was not there before…even if the attraction to the same gender was never there before? Can it be that strong, and that much without reason?

I have yet to find the answers. Even the most seemingly basic clarity as to the source of my feelings, who they are for, and why they are there seems beyond my grasp. I can’t even begin to describe the depths of confusion embodied by the realization that you are in a position of uncertainty not only as to whether or not you are in love, but as to whether it is to a man or woman, and, on top of everything, a man and woman who are now in love with each other. It is the kind of situation dreamt up for bad dramas and soap operas – not real life.

I’ve found myself only able to concede to the mysteriousness that is human emotion, and to admit to the fact that I can’t even claim to fully know myself – even for those things which matter most. It is at once terrifyingly disorienting and strangely liberating. It is a glimpse of deeper understanding into the reality that some things maybe can never be understood…or shouldn’t be.

I still can’t claim to know whether or not what I feel for you – or for him – is or ever was love. I also can’t decide whether it is better to have felt what I’ve felt for you, only to now have you gone, and to feel the inevitable emptiness left by the piece of me you took with you. Or to have had a glimpse into the deep emotion that inspires music and art and poetry, only to realize that whatever it is I’ve felt – especially if it was love – could never be reciprocated in this case. Maybe the only answers to be found, once again, are in the cliché lines of love poems and their testament to love’s power and value – in spite of the pain and confusion it may inflict, and regardless of its shape or form and the nature by which it finds its way into our lives…

“ …love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” TC mark

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