I am slowly learning to believe actions over language. It is easy to say those three little words. It is easy to offer compliments. It is easy to make promises — but it is far more difficult to keep them. Claiming love is not enough. Unless that love is shown to me through kind words, through kept vows, through continued effort, then I cannot believe it is authentic. I cannot settle for empty I miss yous and I’m sorries with no truth behind them. I cannot blindly believe someone’s words when their actions fail to back them up.
I am slowly learning mistakes are inevitable, but repeated mistakes are a conscious choice. If someone offends me once, they deserve a chance to explain themselves. A chance to set things right. A chance at redemption. However, once that mistake multiples from one to two to three, the forgiveness must end. If someone turns hurting me into a habit, then they must lose their privileges. They must lose their placeholder in my life.
I am slowly learning how easy it is to mistake obsession for love. It is not love when the emotions are one-sided, unreciprocated. It is not love when one person gives and the other takes without ever switching roles. It is not love when only one person is exerting effort, when only one person seems to care whether the relationship lasts or collapses into rubble.
I am slowly learning strength isn’t about standing my ground, about refusing to walk away when the relationship gets hard. Strength is about keeping my standards high and expecting to be treated with a certain level of decency. Strength is about knowing when the relationship is beyond being salvaged. Strength is knowing when it is time to give up and let go of the person who means everything to me, even though it is the last thing I want to do.
I am slowly learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy affection. It is not ‘sweet’ when someone controls what I wear and which friends I keep because they are worried about losing me. It is not ‘cute’ when someone kisses me unwantedly because they cannot keep their hands off of me. It is not a compliment when someone acts inappropriately and blames their poor behavior on how much they love me.
I am slowly learning that love and pain are two separate entities. They are not required to go hand-in-hand. Misunderstands do not have to end in arguments. Arguments do not have to end in tears. Tears do not have to end in sleeping on the edge of the couch. I am slowly learning I do not have to accept hell as a substitute for heaven. I do not have to mistake pain for passion.
I am slowly learning love is not meant to hurt like this. Love is not drunken arguments and screaming matches at midnight. Love is not jealousy and control. Love is not growing resentment and lingering pain.
I am slowly learning love is meant to bring peace. Love is meant to nurture. Love is meant to heal.