I'm excited that I get to fall in love again. I'm not saying I'm there or it's happening as you read these words. Maybe I'm just not saying. Maybe you are overthinking my love life. Love comes with variables and accepting the ideals of romantic love means you are willing to accept what you cannot control. You are willing to take a risk because something may be worth doing in spite of the fear that grips you. Really, I love lots of things and lots of people. If I love everything, I can allow that love to flow freely through me and it's not being poured into an abyss that will dissolve love into memories that are ephemeral visions without depth or meaning once my love object morphs into someone I don't recognize or my tastes and desires shift because they will. I'm in this moment, loving each moment for what it is, without adding the weight of possibility and plans because I'm not there yet. I want something strong that has teeth and those teeth better mark me, or it won't be worth that first bite. I want right now because I'm not living in the past or the future. What I'm finally writing about is the big scary idea of falling madly and deeply in love. It's big and scary because it's a topic I've been avoiding but my latest muse has my mind turning things over in the way a muse is supposed to inspire deeper thought. Half the time my muse has no clue because I don't share every thought I have, but it's often written all over my face. At least I keep hearing that from those willing to pay attention. It finally seems like something I can look forward to because the dread I felt was washed away when I removed the bandages and discovered I didn't only heal in the last year, but there was growth, and it's not the gangrenous type.
I couldn't honestly say how many times I've fallen in love. I've lost track. I think my first love was a blonde football player. That was obsessive and really scary. I was scary. Fast forward through many others and the last true love experience was with the man I married. These feelings are almost instinct and familiar and I don't have to assume every guy I imagine playing with is the one I want to settle down with. I have talked about wedding bells seriously with 3 men and even received tokens of promise before I actually exchanged rings and vows. Falling out of love and releasing the future you planned is a process and I'm familiar with each step. I can embrace them.
I love the feeling of falling in love. I don't even mean that silly infatuation stage that makes my inner whore want to dance and play and learn every single detail about the man I am so happy to talk to and be around. I mean deep, resounding love that makes you want to plan for a future together because you can't remember the last time you cared so much about someone. Their desires and needs are important to you because somehow their happiness makes you happy and selfishness doesn't occur to you first where this person is concerned. I fully embrace the idea of being the only one falling in love because as terrifying and risky as that is, the reward is always greater than being closed off.
The big scary part of love is the part where you trust someone else with your fragile parts. You know how delicate your feelings are and you have to trust that someone else will care as much as you do. You hope that you are handled carefully and with compassion. You want to be safe because you know that you are choosing to fall and you want to believe they understand this concept because they are doing the same thing with you. You aren't jumping or aiming but falling freely and only holding out hope that you will be caught because there are no guarantees in love.
You choose to take a risk. You choose to love. If you're already infatuated it's easy. That heart is already racing at the thought of this person. Random things will constantly remind you of their smile or something they said. If those initial feelings have faded into the realities of compromise it can be harder. But you choose and feelings follow. You make a decision and that choice helps you follow through. That's how couples grow old together. They make a choice on a daily basis. They don't see a life together as being victimized and bound. It's a choice and there is freedom in it.
It's not love that hurts us. It's not love that leaves an empty ache that makes breathing painful and silence agony. Love doesn't make you question who you are. Love fills you so much that in its absence you feel the ways you were supported and the pain of its loss is what drives so many to protect themselves so carefully.
There is something so beautiful about a woman in love. When a woman loves and is loved back, she walks with confidence and grace. Smiles are genuine and given freely. Laughter comes easily and stress is manageable. She is attractive and others are drawn to her because they can sense how loved she feels. She gives what she's received. I've had the pleasure of really feeling love for myself in the last few months. I love being able to put myself first. It feels like freedom.
The love I felt as a Mom was instant. The moment I knew there was a life separate from mine thriving inside of me, my hand was constantly on my belly, touching my now 14 year old son. The love was immediate and overwhelming. I started planning a future and daydreaming our existence together. I had adjustments. It was a long time before I was completely at peace with the idea of a parasite leeching off of me and the fact that I was growing a penis was mind blowing for a bit. But the love was there. My maturity is subjective. My motherhood looks like choosing to do what is best for my sons. I want to do what is right, even if it's not the easy thing to do. This looks like hovering, giving space, fighting for, with and against them, and trying my best every single day to be the mom they deserve, and not the mom I want to be. It means I can't disappear.
Even as a surrogate mother, I was in love with the children I carried. I still love all four of them. I never distanced myself so far emotionally that it was a paycheck or that these children were not mine. Those babies are all in my heart. I was able to find peace in never seeing them again in the love I have for their parents. I have so much faith in the women that shared my journey, that I have enough love to let them go and believe they are happy and healthy and loved beyond anything simple words could ever express. My love was in my release and the faith I have in them to care for their children in the many ways they cared for me. My love is in letting go because that is what is best for the families that I will always love.
In the transitional training I experienced a couple of weeks ago, I was able to fully examine what it must have been like for my mom to find out she was having me. She was a teenage mom. She came to the States from Thailand and left her entire family without knowing the culture or language during a time when interracial marriages were shunned in local churches. The eldest was 10 and the one closest to me had been the baby for 7 years. My mom was past diapers and chasing toddlers. During her pregnancy with me, she experienced varicose veins and thyroid issues that my sisters didn't introduce her to. She opted for sterilization with my birth, but this was 1978 and the doctor wouldn't do it without my Dad's consent. In all of the bitterness and rage that flowed through me at what I did to her, I never once felt that from my mom. I've only felt unconditional love and experienced what it looks like when you know without a doubt that the person loving you only wants what is best for you. To this day she will sacrifice her needs for mine and I'm a grown ass woman.
I love my sisters. Growing up there was a large enough gap that I couldn't get in trouble with them. I was telling on them because of what I saw them do with the boys they brought around. Later they were telling on me. When I was younger, they had moments of trying to be the sisters I needed them to be but I was too selfish to appreciate it. One sister would pick me up for lunch during junior high and we'd sit and chat and she always made me feel so great when I went back to class with a doggy bag full of yum. Another took me to a house party where she threatened me not to take anything. It was years before I realized she meant drugs. Eventually I was acting out in terrifying ways and they stepped in as mother hens, pecking and guiding me in ways I rebelled against. As a wife, and later a mom, we found a place where our commonalities no longer throw us into a system of dominance, but allow space for connection. They still have moments where I feel they are shocked at the things I say and do but the overall feeling is that we are so blessed to have each other. We will defend and guide each other. We want what is best for each other and that looks like happiness. Even if we have to tell each other how we think they should do it.
Romantic love is so often written and sung about because we're all excited and confused about it all. The hard reality of a love that I let consume me is that it often means I'm so happy with what it feels like that I'm willing to accept the bad and even the abusive. With all the bad, it's still a risk I am willing and happy to take. There is freedom in letting go. There is joy in the unexpected. There is love and it's everywhere and I get to pour what I have into someone else and that ability to give love, whether or not I receive it in return is where my joy is because I have learned how to love myself first. I don't need to be filled and fixed but there is freedom and peace in what I can give.
I'm excited that I get to fall in love again.