I’ve spent a lifetime falling in what I called L.O.V.E love but now that I’m well on the wrong side of 25 and my ovaries are starting to scream for fertilisation (haha, gross) I’m asking myself, WTF actually is this “love” thing everyone’s always going on about and have I ever truly been in love? Let me give you some context as to how strange it feels for me to even ask myself that question. From the moment I could walk I was chasing boys. I couldn’t count the amount of times I thought I had been in love. I could fall in love with a cartoon character if he glanced at me through the TV at the right angle (shout out to teenage Simba, I mean daiiimn)! I had my first love interest in 4-year-old kinder when a little blonde, bowl-cut kid named Damian simply existed, O.M.G. swoon! When he wasn’t interested, because he was just completely out of my league and totally dreamy (yes, even at 4-years-old they’d figured out I wasn’t one of the cool kids), I quickly turned my attention to the stinky kid that liked bugs and kept rotten apples in his library bag. “That’s better” I thought, as I finally got the attention I felt I deserved, and err yeah…that’s pretty much been my life ever since!
I’ve spent my life falling for the weirdos because pretty boys only like nice girls. Or as mum would say shaking her head, “You always did bring home the strays!”. This referred to boys, friends, cats, that drunk I passed on the street at 5-years-old and cried bloody murder when mum wouldn’t let me help the “sad man”, and there would be many more sad men to come as I got older and more beaten down by the absurdity of life.
Mum calls me an orchid because I need the absolute perfect environment to flourish but once I do it’s beautiful and it’s worth it (isn’t she lovely, she is me wee mammy after all). I tend to think I’m more like an over-ripe peach. I’m too fragile and have always been easily bruised but then life gave me actual things to worry about (rude!) and I kind of just started to rot from the inside out and fall apart beyond recognition…also I smell a bit like stale alcohol. Being damaged helped me see trauma in others like an x-ray to their hearts. Knowing how awful they felt made me want to take their pain away. It took a long time and a lot of personal destruction to realise that just as nobody was coming to save me, I couldn’t save anybody else.
In The Hab (that’s how the kids say rehab, der! I got it off a heroin addict so you know it’s cool) we would get told off if we tried to help others. They called it ‘care-taking’ and it’s a problem when you yourself need healing because putting all of your attention into helping another serves as a distraction from helping yourself. Just like on an aeroplane when we are told to put an air mask on a child before ourselves, we are useless if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Well, I was utterly useless because I was trying to save all these broken men and yet, I myself was a feking dead-ass peach! These days I aspire to live a selfish life. I’ll admit I’m still working out how to balance this. Sometimes (often) I take this too far and just become a down right self-absorbed twat, but in general I think I’m better when my primary focus is on self-care. As an addict I can get confused by the difference between self-care and self-sabotage. It sounds as though it should be obvious but to an addict mind that is easily persuaded to the ‘dark side’ it’s a difficult balance, but that’s for another day.
I read something recently that has royally fucked with my pea brain and is why I wanted to explore the concept of love. I don’t remember it perfectly but it was essentially saying that we don’t fall in love with a person, we fall in love with the way someone makes us feel about ourselves. In a way, we fall more in love with ourselves via someone else’s view of us. Seems nice, right? Someone sees value in us and therefore we feel more value in ourselves. Hazzah! The problem with this is that as peoples’ actions and words change (because change is the only constant and blah-di-blah-blah) we can perceive their change in behaviour as negative. Maybe they say “Bye, I love you,” every morning as they leave for work and one day they simply forget. It’s a small thing right, and it doesn’t have to mean anything at all, but if all of my love for myself is wrapped up in someone else’s view of me, it can mean everything.
At the start of a relationship it’s easy to get swept up in the love bubble. It’s what makes falling in love so much fun (and addictive)! We all know how it works. S/he says nice things to us, dopamine spikes like a drug in the brain and we call that love. It’s not a negative unless you emotionally crash when that initial intensity fades and you will only crash if you don’t have self-worth of your own, which I didn’t. But that feeling we call “falling in love” is not love. True love is unconditional. That is not a small word. That means whatever they do, whatever they say, however they make you feel, you will love them. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, that’s a huge fucking ask! Okay, he eats my last piece of pizza, I’m pissed! But I still love the ass-hole. He cheats on me with my best-friend, kills my cat and eats my last piece of pizza… I’m sorry, but I’m gonna smash a bitch and it’s going to be hard to look him in the eyes and send the prick love!
With that in mind I’ve been trying to think if I’ve ever had a relationship where I know, unequivocally, that I loved someone unconditionally. I honestly don’t know. I’d love to say I loved my long-term ex unconditionally but I’d be lying. I absolutely loved him, I still have love for him, but more-so I loved that he loved me. I loved that he was there for me. I loved that he accepted my quirks. I loved how he made me feel about myself and when he stopped showing me how he loved me, or rather our relationship changed and I wasn’t getting what I thought I needed, I stopped loving myself. I stopped seeing my worth because my worth was dependent on him. Ultimately this meant I ended up looking for someone else to tell me all the pretty things I needed to hear in order to like myself again. Obvs this didn’t work out as I had hoped (coz dah) and subsequently, shit it the fan and we broke up in the most spectacular (or hideous) of fashions!
So no, I’ve never had a romantic relationship where I unconditionally loved someone. I’ve always wanted or needed something from them, whether I knew it or not. I think most of us function in our relationships that way if we are honest with ourselves. Unconditional love is haaaaaaaard! *Stomps foot and pouts* The only person I know without a shadow of a doubt, I undeniably love unconditionally is me big bro. He’s my best bud and I would do anything for him as he would and has done for me. He’s the one who took me to the nut house when my mind melted into mush, he’s the person who told me without a hint of judgement that I needed to pull up my socks and get my shit together because he could see I was causing myself more harm than good, he’s the kid that whenever I felt hopeless could make me smile, when no one else could. Simply, to be around him I feel a greater sense of calm; a feeling that is not easy for me to access. I feel like whichever personality I may be channelling that day, is enough and accepted. He knows every single ugly, fun, crazy, psychotic, depressive, angry, anxious, wild, boring, tired, sick, lazy, manic, slutty, mentally ill, artistic, talented, aggressive, confident, volatile and selfish part of me and he still loves me. That is unconditional love and if he can choose to love me unconditionally, as difficult as I make it, I will do anything for him in return, including love him no matter what. Nawww…shuddup! * blush*
Now bro, where’s the body? I know a guy that can help ya get rid of it*!
*It’s me… I’m the guy.