So much of the tension that turns to friction, and so much of the friction that creates the fault lines that erupt in our relationships has to do with the ways we perceive love, the ways we expect it, and how the love we think we deserve does or doesn’t match up to what we get and, oftentimes, give.
For a lot of people, it’s not about whether or not they’re in love with someone, it’s the nuances that come along with being in love. It’s how they’re in love with them. It’s the ounce of uncertainty we’re told we shouldn’t have. The notion that they’re so young. That someone without such-and-such an issue could come along and be better than what they have now. That there is better out there. The ex who’s more convenient, the distance, the fear of commitment. The timing, the distractions, the impulse to try something else.
And every last one of us can admit to knowing what it’s like to be circling through these notions, trapped between loving someone and wanting to choose otherwise.
The problem is that we seldom realize that the heart is not a one-time-expended thing. You can’t put someone in it and expect that to heal the scarred contours. You have to realize that often, the struggle is that we leave, even though we love them, and we fight, even though we love them, and we do wrong by them, even though we love them, and it’s not because we don’t love them enough, but that all of these things can coexist within us, and the presence of one love doesn’t make another go away. But it doesn’t heal the hurt at its root either. It can just mask it for a little bit.
We can expect that our hearts are able to hold more than one thing, more than one person, more than one feeling — but we cannot expect that they’ll all coexist perfectly. Love grows, and it grows you from the inside out. It expands you, but the expansion doesn’t eliminate whatever else was there beforehand.
So it doesn’t always look the way we think it should. There are hidden spaces and depths within us, and love sometimes comes out differently when it creates the echo of going through those parts of us as well.
Some people love silently. Some love without ever realizing they’re in love — love doesn’t look loving at all. It’s masked by fear, forced into remission, and acted on in bouts of anger and disappointment. Sometimes it’s not being able to look at someone after they’re gone, sometimes it’s not being able to stop, and most times it’s not being able to tell them either way. It sometimes comes out punishing like the parents who try to force us into compliance, not realizing that you cannot shame people into changing. That their expression of anger is a mechanism of their ego, not of their love. We are not inherently whole once we’ve found another person to fit into us. Nobody can do that for us. We have to fill those spaces ourselves.
So sometimes it goes misunderstood. But the comfort is in knowing that it’s not what we misunderstand about love as much as it is about how we let the misunderstanding open and expand us. You let the love, and all the twisted ways it’s morphed and sullied, push you into transforming yourself and your life out of necessity. You eventually realize it was love that created you, not the pain that is the byproduct of lost love. And it wasn’t the love someone didn’t give, it was the love you had to find in yourself.
The only matter is that we let love do what it’s supposed to: give us more of it, even — and probably especially — when it means we have to take it for ourselves. Sometimes we choose people to show us the hidden parts of ourselves. Sometimes we choose people who we know will hurt us. Sometimes it’s the only way we can be acquainted with our inner beings, and even though we don’t understand it, it’s often the most honest, beautiful way we love ourselves too.