What I talk about when I talk about love

I'm sick of flowery metaphors of butterflies trapped in a stomach, and fuzzy feelings in the brain. I hate the idea of feelings of anxiety and attraction competing for attention. The idea of love being a struggle -- being a constant uphill battle -- is not only exhausting, it's frustrating.

Love doesn't have to be hard. (I'd argue it shouldn't be, but more on that later.) Love should be coming home and feeling at peace. It should be like taking a really deep breath of cool, crisp air. Attraction and affection shouldn't have to be laced with nerves or stress; let's start romanticizing the ease of being with another instead of the challenges we face when we choose to stay with someone else.

To be clear, I'm not here touting some bullshit that relationships don't take work. They do, obviously. But if it becomes a daily thing, a thing that hangs above your head or weighs down your shoulder -- if it becomes more work or brings more turmoil than it does peace or happiness -- then let's reconsider. Is that love? Or is it something else: staying together with someone because a) it's easier to be together than to put an end to things and move on, b) you're in love with the idea of being in love, and even if that means settling for this Sisyphus-esque romance so be it, or c) you're afraid to be alone.

In all honesty, I think one of my greatest fears is being alone. Not necessarily with regard to relationships, but just in general. On nights when I'm up so late that it's ridiculous to call it "night" anymore, I'm worrying about being completely alone. Forever. If my family were gone, if my friends had left, if I had no one but myself, what then? I'm working on that fear, and every day I'm more okay with it. I'm great at being alone, but I still have days where I struggle with loneliness.

But you know what scares me even more than being alone? Seeing those I care for settle for something or someone that is draining them, wearing them down until they become someone I don't recognize anymore. That whole "we accept the love we think we deserve" thing from Perks of Being a Wallflower rings especially true in those moments, and I never know what to do. I hold myself back from overstepping my bounds to shake them out of that stupor of going through their life, day in and day out, thinking they're happy because they're ignoring the little thorns of upset. But those thorns, when you're not paying attention, start to collect. It turns into a bramble and though there may still be a rose in there somewhere...is it worth it?

Love isn't:
  • Emotionally exhausting
  • Dramatic or selfish
  • Isolating
  • Compromising yourself for them
Love is:
  • Warm comfort and sudden peace
  • Support and sacrifice
  • Acceptance
  • Mutual compromise

I'm done with listening to those poems where fluttery nerves and a nauseated stomach is a sign of love. When you're with the right person, it should feel different. What I talk about when I talk about love is this...

Standing in front of an ocean on an empty beach. The wind is high and the clouds skitter quickly across the sky. The sand is cold under your feet, and as you stare out across the water toward the horizon, the overcast sky starts to appear as if it's a part of the ocean itself. The blues and grays all blur together until the sky is the water and the water is the sky. You feel so small and so big all at once -- important and utterly insignificant. 

Your breath comes easy in the salty air, and when there's someone next to you (to lean on, to take your hand), all of the weight you carry on your shoulder lifts. The buzzing in your head silences. The nerves in your stomach subside. There may be rough waters, but the waves pass, and through it all there's still that undercurrent of peace. You are at home, no matter where you are, and there's so much ahead, but you're not the least bit scared.

What do you talk about when you talk about love?

Photo credit: skyrim

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