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UNREQUITED

If the love that human beings experience is almost always unrequited why do we risk loving anyone or anything at all?

Why did I say, “I do” when sometimes I don’t.

Often, I need to remind myself that I will never be loved back in precisely the same way as my love is given, and as hard as that may be to accept, and it is, that’s okay.

“Human beings live in disappointment and a self-appointed imprisonment when they refuse to love unless they are loved in the same selfless way in return.” – David Whyte Consolations

When we are young, and we don’t know any better, we have unrealistic expectations about what true love means.

I was twenty years old when I got married. On my own since the age of seventeen, what the hell did I know about true love?

We met when I was sixteen, and were engaged just two short years later. When I think about that now, especially when viewing it through the lens of my now adult children, I still ask myself what the hell were we thinking?

Yet here we are thirty-three years later, still together and still in love, at least most of the time anyway.

“Men and women have always had difficulty with the way a love returned hardly ever resembles a love given, but unrequited love may be the form that love mostly takes; for what affection is ever returned over time in the same measure or quality with which it is given?… What other human being could ever love us as we need to be loved?” – David Whyte Consolations

Many of us, myself included, can’t even love ourselves the way we need to be loved.

We set conditions on ourselves that must be met then strictly adhered to first.

For most of my life, I’ve felt that nothing I’ve ever done was enough.

It’s a strange ache that’s never been satisfied and is one that, for a long time, kept me from fully loving myself for exactly who I am.

So it comes as no surprise to me that my husband will never love me exactly the way I want him to or expect he should, and that’s impossibly difficult to accept, but ultimately that’s okay because it has to be. It’s the price of admission on this crazy roller coaster ride called love.

Over time, and it does take time, I came to realize that I had to be willing to give up wanting to control the manner in which my love is reciprocated or risk being habitually miserable.

I had to somehow keep my heart open when I was lied to, or dismissed, or taken advantage of, or hurt by unkind words.

It hurts like hell when the person we depend on the most to love us for who we are, doesn’t, or does not show it in the way we would like them to or expect they should.

We could easily view this as a failure and use it as an excuse to never allow ourselves to be hurt again.

During her inspiring commencement speech at Harvard, J.K. Rowling once said, “…Failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

In all fairness, I know I am not the easiest person to live with either.

I’m an introvert. I am highly sensitive by nature. I am highly attuned to the injustices in the world that many others turn a blind eye to. I care so much about everything and everyone else that sometimes I neglect the people right in front of me.

I sometimes keep my feelings bottled up inside until someone or something lights my fuse, and I explode, then apologize to my loved ones as I try and pick up the pieces and put things back to together again.

I feel pain, my own and other’s, exquisitely, which often leaves me too raw to be touched.

I am an artist that has spent her whole life, up until this point, too afraid to express herself and everyone around me has had to suffer the consequences of my acute frustration.

My husband knows all of this about me and still loves me, just as I know things about him, and I still love him.

We work hard to do the best with what we’ve been given and work even harder to keep loving each other when all we want to give each other is grief.

It’s not easy.

It’s never been easy.

But as the brilliant philosopher, Alan Watts once said, “The whole point of the dancing is the dance.”

My parents, who set an excellent example for me, have been dancing together for almost sixty years.

Growing up I saw firsthand how their love for each other was never perfect, but when you got right down to it, it didn’t matter.

Underneath all the bickering and the yelling, I knew they loved each other for better or worse.

I knew that meant something.

I knew that meant everything.

Like them, my husband and I have done our fair share of fighting, and like them when everything is said and done, the deep love we have for each other has always saved us.

Repeatedly.

Every time I’ve ever been tempted to withhold my love for whatever reason, even if it’s a very good reason, in the end I know it’s no use. I only end up hurting myself.

As a result, I’m forced to do the impossible; let go of the pain, let go of the expectation that things will be different, and let go of my stubborn refusal to love him when he doesn’t deserve it.

“We seem to have been born into a world where love, except for brilliant, exceptional moments, seems to exist from one side only, ours – and that may be the difficulty and the revelation and the gift – to see love as the ultimate letting go and through the doorway of that attention, make the most difficult sacrifice of all, giving away the very thing we want to hold forever.” – David Whyte Consolations

I cannot force anyone to love me; they must be given the freedom to choose. Only then will that love be real, and whether or not it’s unconditional or unrequited makes little difference.

Love is love.

I have loved and been loved. It is something I will be forever grateful for.

It is something I will always relish.

 

NEXT WEEK: VULNERABILITY

About Amy

I am many things to many people. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend. I am a worshiper of nature on a journey inward, rewriting my story one word at a time.

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