I love you.
Recently a male friend of mine told me that he loved me, he has said it now on more than one occasion. I reacted by not responding and then ultimately gave him a long lesson in why he shouldn’t be so free and easy in using those words, that it was ‘dangerous territory’ and would only ‘end in tears’, and if he wasn’t going to do anything about it then he shouldn’t say it.
He persisted and almost insisted that it was how he felt, regardless of the circumstances or what may or may not be the outcome. He still from time to time says it to me, and I still pretend I haven’t heard it and its just become our funny little way of going.
One of the things he came back at me with which has inspired me to write this, is that he said ‘I wish you would just take it for what it is , rather than what it isn’t’, and know that you have someone who loves you, and always will’.
These words have been echoing around in my mind for the last couple of weeks and it got me thinking , he actually has a very good point. Who am I to dictate to him how he feels?, who am I to push my perception of what love is or isn’t on him?. Who sets the rules for what love is or isn’t? , love shouldn’t come with any rules or boundaries or even an expiration date, love should just be love, open to interpretation, free and spontaneous, after all isn’t that what makes love so wonderfully intoxicating.
I have always thrown myself into love like it is the first time, with the same excitement and careless disregard for anything other than being consumed by all of the wonderful feelings, thoughts and possibilities that it brings. This has often led me to me experiencing the extreme opposite of these feelings when I find out that as much as I had convinced myself I couldn’t live without them , they in fact could, quite easily , live without me.
This has been a familiar pattern since my very first love and has always resulted in those around me telling me to ‘be careful next time’ and ‘don’t give all of yourself so freely’ to which, yes you guessed it, I completely ignored and continued to dive in head first just as carelessly and fearlessly into into the deep end of love as I always have done, without a second thought of whether I am going to drown or bang my head on the bottom. Much to the dismay and rolling eyes of my family and friends who continue to stand on the waters edge ready with the armbands!.
Its better to have loved and lost.
Now we all love a cliche, but when we don’t appreciate a cliche is when we are in our depths of heartbreak and someone comes out with ‘Its better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’, damn that Tennyson , surely he must have been bonkers!. He doesn’t understand, you don’t understand, no one in the whole wide world who says that ever , ever, in a million years can possibly understand!!!.
I have had this said to me by a previous partner and I remember being furious and very dramatically, and pretty much as in the paragraph above, declaring that this was the worst possible thing in the world and I would rather live with never having loved him than loved and lost him. In the heat of the moment , in the thick of emotion and love I could not understand how it could be possible to have loved someone and lost them and ever look back on it fondly. You can’t have ever loved them fully in the start if you could ever imagine living happily without them. Surely if you cannot be with someone who you love, you need to spend the rest of your life mourning them, drowning in a sea of Chardonnay and crisp sandwiches, staring at your phone out of one eye because your too hungover to move your head off the pillow, only to start again when you realise they are not going to return any of your ten drunken text from 2am the previous morning…. but thats another blog post …!
That was then. I now have a more pragmatic approach , and that may sound like its boring or less passionate, but it doesn’t have to be , it just allows me to love and let go of love without being confined to months of mourning or clinging to unrealistic ideals that prevent me from moving forward it my own life. I guess its more of a grown up way of handling love, which I think I would have only developed having gone through what I have gone through in the last few years.
I am not living with the ghosts of my previous love affairs. I am not waiting for people to come back into my life. I am not unable to love again because I still love previous partners. As much as it has been convenient for people to assume this, and tell anyone who will listen that this is the case. It simply isn’t true. What I am able to do now however is be completely in love with the memories and be so very grateful for the time I had with various people who brought me amazingly joyful experiences , consuming love, fabulous excitement and roaring passion. I can now look back on old photographs with a warm feeling and feel so lucky to have experienced such intensity from certain relationships, an intensity that a lot of people do not get to experience ever in their lifetime, for many reasons.
The love I have have shared with people has not been because we love our life, or we love our house or we love our children. It has been because we loved every second of our time together and every cell in each others bodies at that time. I have never had to make a love work because I was so invested in other areas of our life, yes, this has meant that my life has been up and down because of this , but the ups were magnificent and I wouldn’t do anything any differently, not even if it meant avoiding the downs. I would rather have my time over again with certain people and loose them, than live a lifetime of mediocrity with them.
I finally understand and I finally can agree that, I would have rather loved that way and lost, than never loved in that way at all.
The darker side of love.
I have in more recent times seen the darker side of love, the unhealthy and destructive side. This has also helped me to grow as a person , and shown me who I never want to be, so it has helped me to cultivate certain parts of my love to be a better, healthier love. I will no longer love anyone as much as I love myself. I will never again put my whole life in the trust of someone else without a safety net in place. I will never surrender as much of myself to anyone again, and I will follow the advice I always give to others which is, ‘Inside every person you know , is a person that you don’t know’.
I had actually thought that in my tapestry of life I had experienced everything, and this taught me that I hadn’t , and I had to grow as a person very quickly in order to be able to handle it, and as any kind of growth can only be a positive thing, positive lessons are what I will take from it.
Where you find love, sometimes lurking around the corner can be jealousy, it could be jealousy of other people, jealousy of you as a person or jealousy of a love you had with someone else that your current partner is unable to come to terms with. People will try to destroy love and destroy memories of a love they wished never existed or one they know they are unable to recreate. If you are trying to recreate a love that someone had with someone else, you are wasting your time and you are wasting theirs. To love is to love in the moment, not to try and love like the love in someone else’s past.
Growing into Love.
Even though my life in recent months has been extremely turbulent and is not where I want it to be , both geographically and emotionally. I am enjoying the growth that it has afforded me. I have changed as a person , because I have had to, and I am enjoying that aspect of it. I do feel a little more cynical than what I would like to feel. Which is what started this whole post off , my reaction to my friend telling me he loved me, a few years back that would have been music to my ears, now it rings alarm bells!, but I know that will pass, and actually, why don’t I just take it for what it is.
Stop analysing. Stop expecting. Just accept and feel the warmth of love and whatever direction if any it may take, surely this has to be the healthiest way, to let love flow with no expectations, or anxiety.
It is only natural at a certain age that people start asking questions about, marriage , children, and that in itself can ruin love, there becomes a certain urgency , which I have felt in the past , to achieve something, to strive for ‘the end result’. This is not my goal. Right now I don’t have a goal, if people come into my life they come, if they leave they leave and this, for me, is giving me a greater self confidence than I have ever had before. I don’t feel the ‘need’ for anyone or anything and that in itself feels very liberating.
My greatest love of all.
To finish off, I would like to dedicate this post to the greatest of all of my love affairs. The one that I know is eternal, that has made my heart feel full and my soul complete for years gone past and will for years to come. That is my love affair with Africa. I have had my most fulfilling and passionate, most extreme and intense, most relaxed and exciting times in this wonderfully breathtaking country, and if I never travelled anywhere else in the world, I would feel fulfilled with just Africa, my Africa of the past and my Africa of the future. My wonderful Africa.
The photo of me at the start of this post was taken in Johannesburg 2014 when my heart was bursting and I was truly experiencing love in every sense of the word and was quite simply … as happy as a lark!.
So I leave you with this wonderful extract from The Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway.
“All I wanted to do was get back to Africa. We had not left it, yet, but when I would wake in the night I would lie, listening , homesick for it already. Now looking out the tunnel of trees over the ravine at the sky with white clouds moving across in the wind, I loved the country so that I was happy as you are after you have been with a woman that you really love, when, empty , you feel it welling up again and there it is and you can never have it all and yet what there is, now you can have, and you want more and more, to have, and be, and live in, to possess now again for always, for that long sudden-ended always ; making time stand still, sometimes so very still that afterwards you wait to hear it move, and it is slow in the starting. But you are not alone because if you have ever really loved her happy and untragic, she loves you always;no matter whom she loves nor where she goes she loves you more”.
Thankyou for reading