Susan and Jim, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then come marriage, then comes Jim, pushing a baby carriage…
Let’s face it. We have a love hate relationship with L.O.V.E. We want it, we yearn for it, we seek it out, we risk for it, and simultaneously we pride ourselves on NOT needing it, on being content with our selves, on NOT depending, on being whole, or evolved or “going our own way”. We write out our name with his last name, we ROM COM (now a verb), we wonder how we will meet someone, will we ever, is it me we ask when the solo years roll by, am I too SOMETHING? An asshole, a bitch? Too demanding or critical? Do I need botox, or stronger glutes? A sexier job title? More hair?
We stack our boxes and zhuzh our profiles. We engineer the perfect mate on a spreadsheet, and he is ten percent bratty bad boy Gerard Butler stirred in with fifty percent ruffled hair self deprecating wittty Hugh Grant wanting to devour us with his paint brush through the eyes of Javier Bardem circa Vicky Christina. She is forty percent Jennifer Anniston girl next door with a hint of Julia Roberts sparkle, stirred in with some Scarlet Johansson pouty lipped superhero badassery in the bedroom. We map out careers and body types and character and values and also the secret sub category that is “everything we hated about Susan/Jim and will run from at Olympic speeds to avoid”.
On Mondays we are independent and fierce and we march to the beat of our own drum and on Fridays we are dragging our ass to the party or the restaurant or the meet up, scanning the face of the world for the face of our new beloved, a little too excited when the fortune cookie promises a new crush.
And then…it happens. We MEET SOMEONE. We feel, something. A tingling. A connection. HOPE HAPPENS. We have a pep in our step, we see their face, hear their voice, replay that thing they said to us that made us feel like the most desirable date in Date-land a few hundred times. We can’t help but work their name into conversation. We make our beloveds roll their eyes. We are smitten. We check off our boxes, or we throw the whole damn spread sheet into the garbage, because whatever was on there can’t compare to this feeling. We try to make up a new one based on everything we never knew we wanted, and then we throw that out, because our heart has already won the war. Love is in the air.
And then…the OTHER thing happens. They hurt us. One moment it’s running through meadows of daffodils. The next it’s the tease that holds a slight edge about our snoring or our loud voice, or we try to tell them something important and they don’t seem to hear us, or there they are out at the pub with that loser you know has a thing for her and it’s not that you don’t trust her but what if she’s into him and just been stringing you along this whole time? What if they get up from the table and he puts his hand on her back?
Up come the walls. The walls, oh the walls. The walls of Fort Knox, the North Walls, steel maximum security prison walls with the screaming alarms, the walls of “fuck vulnerability” which so readily turn love into a war zone and your paramour into the enemy who you must now outsmart and your heart into the triple agent you must now take down, and The Avengers of your hurt are climbing into costume for the next blockbuster called ROM COM MUST DIE.
And that is why you have me on speed dial, love. Joking, but so not joking.
Here is the thing.
Somewhere between Cupid stabbing you with his arrow and walking off into the sunset, something is going to hurt.
Because you are two different perspectives.
Two different histories.
Two different ways of managing the toothpaste cap.
And I gently suggest to you, that there are pros and cons to having the cap off for easy access and time saving, and having it on so you don’t get crusty bits on the end that you have to wipe off.
We have personalized walls. The Susan and Jim walls. The he shouldn’t have she shouldn’t have walls. The abandonment wall. The fidelity wall. The ever so popular “I don’t want to lose myself” wall. The “I can’t be successful and manage a relationship” wall. The shitty boundaries wall. The “I’m not a priority” wall.
Walls are fun. They are cute. They are the emotional equivalent to telling someone to “be careful” after you watch them trip down the stairs.
Walls are an attempt to close off, to separate, to defend emotionally. But we erect them when we are already hurt. And they don’t actually fix the wound. They heal nothing, grow nothing, build nothing and help no one. Separation does not work. When we erect an emotional wall we make our love interest into our enemy.
And The World, our audience, is right there behind us snapping a zee, telling us ain’t no self- respecting man or woman gonna put up with that BS so we better wo/man up.
And sometimes they are right. Sometimes it is BS. I am not saying you should have to live your life with messy toothpaste, or peace out while the person who holds your heart in their hands stares across the candlelit table at someone who is NOT YOU, by the way but I AM going to ask you this.
WHAT IF *drumroll* we actually burn down our walls?
WHAT IF, we approach LOVE differently?
WHAT IF, instead of asking how they might hurt us, or how we can protect ourselves from hurt, or what we stand to lose, we start asking how we can collaborate to protect one another’s hearts?
Take all the amazing things that I am to you, and all of the amazing things that you are to me, throw them on the table and arrange them in a way that is greater than the sum of the parts?
What if I become your ALLY in taking over the world? What if I walk with you into your hurty places, your closets of monsters and I turn on the lights? What if we laugh together at it? What if I build you up and mirror your beauty and your strength?
What if we stop asking how we can be unaffected, invulnerable, and self protecting and we reward vulnerability by protecting each other? Instead of asking how I can lose, ask how we can win *crowd cheers *throws confetti *waves peace flag.
I know that not everyone is ready for this. I know that some of us are too far from love, inner love, worth, and emotional safety to get this healthy. And some relationships can’t get off the ground because of this. And we have to throw those little fish back for now. We have to gently throw those fish back.
BUT there are so many AMAZING potentials with pretty damn healthy folks that get tripped up and off course and confused and suffer needlessly, because the world tells us to arm ourselves. And we are all running around like scared children/US Presidents trying to block out our own humanity and our greatest gifts and assets with some sticks bricks and stones. We don’t save ourselves by walling out the world.
It’s okay to be hungry as long as you don ‘t starve yourself.
It’s okay to feel hurt, as long as you don’t leave yourself bleeding in the ditch.
Hurt doesn’t hurt us, funny enough, if we answer it.
And running from hurt that hasn’t happened does.
It wounds us. And steals our ability to love and be loved.
So STEP ONE to Loving and being Loved is to ask “How can we put all that is good here toward making this better?”
If we start there, what do we have to lose?
P.S. You’ve been asking me how to get your friends and loved ones the help I’ve been able to give you. We can do that. Contact me and we’ll talk details.
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.