Thought Catalog

I’m Still Learning How To Love

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Love is such a strange thing. We’re not supposed to be able to control it, yet we want to find the right person. We’re supposed to feel it inherently and naturally, yet we must also choose to care for others. We’re supposed to love freely and fearlessly, yet also be careful who we give our hearts to.

There are so many rules, yet at the same time, none that we can truly follow.

Love is complicated, yet so simple.
Love is messy, but also so beautiful.

And at age twenty-three, forty-five, eight-two, I think we’re all still trying to understand it.

I think love is a process, but not in the sense of monotonous, or a step-by-step sort of mechanical type of way. A process in the way that there’s certain stages—the stage of falling, the stage of getting wrapped up in another person, the stage of finding yourself independently and together with someone else, and the stage of choosing that person, despite life’s obstacles.

But even knowing this process doesn’t make it any easier.

It doesn’t mean that your relationships will always follow this path, or that your life will go according to plan, or that your feelings will be manageable, and able to fit in this perfect little box with the label ‘love’ taped to the side.

Sometimes you fall, and sometimes you fall hard.
Sometimes you love, and sometimes you find yourself in love.

And then, suddenly your level of love has even deeper, uncharted layers.

I think I get wrapped up in all the ways I don’t yet know love fully. I know I’m young, but even as a 20-something, I’ve found myself in what I’d consider ‘real love.’ I’ve experienced how two people can discover themselves and their dreams in one another; I’ve given my heart to someone and even in my loss, learned what it means to care for someone other than myself.

I’ve had imperfect love, messy love, crazy love, and painful love.

But even though I’ve loved and lost, I still don’t feel like I fully understand it.

I’m still learning to let go, to let people in.
I’m still learning that love involves both your head and your heart.

I’m still learning that I you can’t help how you fall in love, but you must choose to love.

I guess the hardest part about love is that you have to embrace the fact that you’ll never fully understand it. That even if you’ve loved a hundred times, each relationship is different. Each person is different. Each kiss is different. And isn’t that true?

You’re still expressing the same sort of emotion and feeling the same sort of heart-pounding, hands-sweating type of feeling—yet it’s so different with each new experience.

You never love someone the same way as you’ve loved another.

And isn’t that so beautiful?

Maybe you love a little more carefully the second time around, showing that person a different side of your heart. Or maybe you decide to love with abandon with the next person. Or maybe you’re a mix of both. Regardless, you love differently, refolding yourself and then opening in a completely new way. Showing that person your wonderfully complex layers from a new angle each time.

I guess love isn’t really something to be understood, more of something to be treasured. To be looked at from behind a glass case, to admire, and when you’re ready. Then to touch it. To shrug it over your shoulders like a comfy jacket and find a new sense of yourself inside.

Maybe we’re all trying to find a love that fits us just right.
Maybe we’re all still learning how to love, or love again.

And maybe that’s perfectly fine. Because we’re not really supposed to know how, we’re just supposed to do it. And learn along the way. TC mark

Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book, Somewhere on a Highway, available here.

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