I don’t think I know what love is or if I even like it very much, but I’m swimming in it nonetheless.
My phone notes are filled with love poems. Crushes will occupy my mind for months (their hands, their lips, their jokes, their laugh, their words, their limbs). My eyes flash with affection towards every child, my friends, adorable animals, cute gestures, every pretty salesperson or bus driver I see.
But I generally keep a lot of those parts of myself hidden. Because though love is a many splendored thing inside my head, floating and bubbling in everything I see, but outside of it, out of my control, in my past, so much of it is horrific, nauseating.
Many of the ways I have been taught by others and shown “love” have so often used me, expected me to take the burden, to limit my needs and desires, lower my expectations, to take a hit, have told me I am not enough, to be quieter, to not call the police. Some of the ways I have been taught to love have tried to kill me.
So butterflies in my stomach can feel like unsettled nerves, to feel earnestly and with abandon a set up for a loss. Memories of rough touches and cruel words and loss fill my mind and my stomach churns. I am nervous and unsure and terrified of love. Love in your head, the fantasy, fair weather or puppy love is one thing, but the actual complication and commitment and long-suffering of it all is a gamble and a risk.
It is easier for me bark “it’s all a capitalist ploy, anyway” on a day like today than to admit the way love has challenged and hurt me, left me lonely and confused and mangled, to push through that fear and admit how I feel about a certain someone (while accepting they are under no obligation to reciprocate and if they don’t, that does not mean I am unlovable), to love my friends-imperfect and wild as they may be-with everything in me, to give a fucked up family member a call (or *not* give them a call), to apologize for hurting someone I love, to apologize for not loving myself enough. It is easier to deny love than to let her in.
I realize love and I have been at war for almost as long as I have been alive and I want to make peace with her. I have demands, I have boundaries, I have grievances and fears and concerns and hang-ups. So does she. But she deserves a chance and so do I.
I want to reckon and face love in ways I haven’t before, to fight with her and for her. It demands patience, openness and vulnerability that I am not yet sure I have the ability to perform, knowing full well I haven’t in the past. But I am willing to try.