Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Many Faces of Love

Good day my friends out there in the digital world. I hope that time has found you well. Lately there seems to be a tremendous amount of bad news in the world. Of course, this isn't really anything the new. The world has always been full of strife; we just get to see more of it these days. Or maybe there really is an increase in the amount of instability in the world. Regardless, today I'm finally getting around to a post I've had on my mind for some time: a post about love, the romantic kind.

For the last six months, more like a year but 'officially' we'll stick to about six months, I have been down the in the dumps, depressed even, trying to sort out my last failed relationship. I've had lots of opportunity to think, there's been no shortage of that and while I have managed to sort through some of it and move forward, I realize that there was something holding me back: I helped raise a little girl for those six years we were together. That seems to be what I can't get past but identifying the source of a problem is the first step to finding a solution; I'm sure I will figure this out in time.

I'm not meaning to start this out on a negative, really I'm not. There is no question that the damage done in the end will stick with me for some time to come. Primarily I have serious trust issues but I suppose when you open your heart to someone that you risk the possibility of being hurt. I don't like the way I feel at all. I miss being a more positive person and most of all, I miss being loved. I know there are all kinds of people who love me and I think I know what you mean. This absence, this void I feel is missing cannot be filled suddenly by someone else, I have to fill it first; I have to be happy with myself. This got me to thinking about all the times I have been in love.

I have been fortunate enough to have loved and been loved more than once in my short existence. Some people might argue that you can't be in love with more than one person but I think that most would agree that this is not just possible, but happens to us all. I've thought about those partners, most are still close friends and I started thinking about how each one felt and while each one was a very special, meaningful and honest love, they were different. The love I felt for each (all at different times; no need for you to think I'm a hussy) was honest and true but they were different types of love.

First Love or Puppy Love
I think that we've all been there. This uniquely euphoric feeling of happiness and joy that overwhelms the senses when we first feel romantic love, and it's reciprocated, towards another individual. This new sensation, emotion is something unlike we experience until that moment. We know what love is but the concept of being in love escapes us until the moment that first love enters our lives. For most of us this happens during our teenaged years; I was sixteen.

I remember how excited I was; how absolutely overcome with happiness I was. Here was this other human being who felt this amazing attraction to me in the same way I felt for her. I had had interests in other women at the time but I had always not found a way to either convey that or I was too embarrassed or shy to say anything (which is funny in retrospect given how outspoken I am). I was in love for the first time and as it would turn out, the first time I expressed that loved with someone in an intimate manner.

Things will change, as will hearts and suffice to say my first experience in love ended in a broken heart but not an angry one. She was and is one of the more honest and up front women I have ever had a relationship with. No damaging lies and honest even if it was unpleasant. While it didn't work out, we are still very good friends. We've made other attempts at it over the years but things have never managed to work out. I'm sure she knows who she is and if she's reading this, you will always have a special place in my memory. You're a wonderful woman, an amazing mother and a real friend. I will always be happy to have known and know you.

Opposites Attract
Have you ever met someone who was almost your complete opposite and instead of being turned off from them, you find yourself curiously attracted to them? This is the second face of love I came to know. I used to be a nerdy, geeky, small man of average physical appearance....wait, that's still me! She was the girl that girls want to be. Attractive, confident, strong and empowered. I loved school and learning; she dropped out. We had very little, if anything in common so you can imagine my complete and utter disbelief (not to mention the huge amount of courage to follow through) when she jumped into my car after I pulled over and asked if she'd like to go for a ride (yeah, I did that, it happened).

I never imagined that this simple car ride would turn into a six year relationship on a rollercoaster of events and emotions that are not for the faint of heart. To say we had our ups and downs is to understate it but what we had was ours. While I don't think I have fought so much with any partner in my entire life (and she'll attest to this), we made it work and we were happy more than we were sad or angry. She gave me the greatest and proudest of my entire life thus far: she bore our child. While that moment was the greatest joy, it was a fleeting moment.

We walked many new roads together; grew together; loved and mourned together but in the end, well, hearts will change and so will people. Maybe it was the stress of our shared loss; maybe the differences finally caught up to us; maybe it was just the end of the time we were meant to be together but whatever the case, after six years it ended somewhat mutually. I'm sure she knows who she is as do most who know me personally and that's just fine.

You gave me your heart and your love and shared the single greatest moment of my life and for that there are no words of expression. A part of my heart will always be endeared to that time and place. You have come so far from where we were; from where you were and if you should also happen across this post I would like you to know how absolutely proud of you I am and how absolutely overjoyed I am that you were able to have a family and children of your own. The right man is out there for you, he just needs to know how to handle a strong woman who doesn't take shit.

Love at First Sight
I contemplated the order of these last two but I started chronologically so I figured I might as well continue that way. This needs to be explained more as a story of the experience rather than trying to explain what it is or how it is; there is no real way to express it. Now, a lot of people will argue that you cannot possibly fall in love with someone with just a look but for all you naysayers, I say you are missing out on one of the most powerful forms of emotion you can experience in a moment. Here is what love at first sight it:

I remember it as though it were happening in front of me right now, this very moment. I was with my girlfriend over at a friend's house. He was having a party, nothing unusual for him nor the group of friends I was hanging around with at the time. I was off work from Tim Horton's that night and it was after dark, night time. We were early and four of us were sitting around sipping on some beer waiting for other people to show up. A car came up the driveway. I heard the doors closing and the sound of female laughter outside the door as they made their way up the stairs.

The door opened and I swear by my life and my love of it that never have my eyes beheld what they saw at that moment. She stepped into the room and there was such a sudden brilliance of light emanating from her; from all around her; shining as bright as a noonday sun. I would not have looked away even if I could have, I was entranced. Her long, dark, walnut colored hair flowed down over her shoulders; floated on some invisible breeze as she tossed her head to remove it from her eyes. And her eyes. Her eyes were vibrant and alive; excitement took on some unspoken form within them. A smile across her face brought a warmth to my soul I had never experienced before. Every part of me knew in an instant.

In that moment, girlfriend by my side, I consciously decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. There was nothing more important than knowing her. I left the party early and left my girlfriend that night. I would do everything I could possibly do to earn the privilege of asking her out.

I stayed single for six months. I abstained from relations with other women. I sobered up. I became a new man, a better man and I finally felt I was at least somewhat good enough of a person to talk to her and so I asked her out for coffee. She said yes and that began an almost decade long, off and on relationship that concluded with a six year stretch together; the one mentioned in the introduction. While I'm reeling the aftermath of the chaos inflicted at the end, I am not here to talk about the bad.

That feeling of love I felt with is the most remarkable of emotions. It makes you feel invincible; unbreakable; incapable of failure. It lifts you up to a place you didn't even know existed. It is a feeling you never want to lose and therein lies the danger; you fear losing it so much that you will compromise yourself in ways you never imagined. In the time we spent together I was in love with every part of her and there is nothing I would not have done for her. Her happiness was the source of my happiness and while this might all sound like a cliché romance novel, it is what it is. It's the most illogical and irrational of all the types of love I have experienced and it has had a greater affect on me, negative and positive, then any other.

I highly recommend falling in love at first sight but be careful, it's a long way down from the top (of the emotional ladder).

Soul Mates
This brings me to the fourth face of loved I've encountered. Soul mates. What is a soul mate? I guess we all have this idea of a soul mate, of a person who is made to compliment us in all the right ways; another person who was made just for us; a person you are connected to in a way that cannot be expressed; your perfect partner. Well, chances are there are no perfect partners in the concept of perfection we carry around but the idea of a perfect partner is not one who patronizes us or one we don't argue with; it is the opposite. They are a partner who will expose us but who will keep us safe while they are doing; someone who sees the bare soul beneath the external mask we wear.

I have met two. One was a man and he was my the closest one can have to a brother without DNA. He complimented me in a way that I cannot begin to express and for five years we spent more time together than I have with some of my partners. We worked together; lived together; partied together; travelled together; moved together. He will always be someone I remember with great fondness despite our falling out at the end. You made me face more of my own demons than you'll know and helped me through more than I ever told you. You will always be my friend even if time has pushed us apart subjectively and figuratively. While this was never a romantic connection is most definitely worth noting as a soul mate doesn't have to be a romantic love; it can be a fraternal one.

However, when it is a romantic connection I want to tell you that it brings with it a feeling of wholeness that cannot readily be identified. It sounds strange to say that someone 'completes me' given the obvious Hollywood reference here but that's kind of what it's like. There isn't any guess work involved; what cannot be expressed verbally is intuitively understood. Your values, your ethics, your philosophy fall into alignment alongside theirs. And that's just the psychological part of it.

Emotionally, it is the most fulfilling of experiences. It is a feeling that falls under romantic love but it is something far greater than that. It's like a piece of you that you didn't even know was missing has suddenly been filled and you wonder how you ever existed without that peace (double entrendre here as this feeling brings the most amazing sense of serenity). You feel your emotions as though they were physical things embracing you; the negativity of every day existence is a distant memory in the sounds of their voice. There is no jealousy; there is no anger. There is only understanding.

There is not a moment that goes by that I don't wish the circumstances of our lives had been different to see where it would have gone. She knows how I feel; I know how she feels but this is one love I have only ever been permitted to feel from a distance. While I would love her in an instant, it is most certainly the case that it's just not in the stars. I take comfort in knowing she is out there; that she is happy; that she is loved.

Falling in love is a wonderfully dangerous thing. On the one hand you get to experience what could quite possibly be the very meaning for existence (if you've ever really been in love you'd agree that it at least makes the top 10) and on the other hand, you could end up going through the darkest moments of your life. It's a risk. It's a risk you need to take.

I have had my heart broken more times in 20 years than I care to count. Some were mostly painless, most were moments that required a few weeks of sadness and a select few moments almost tore me to pieces. I have been cheated on, lied to, beaten, pushed and had a knife pulled on me in those same years (I cheated once and did eventually admit it even though she never found out; it was wrong of me) and I'm sure I wasn't always the most pleasant individual either. I know I've broken my share of hearts as well and for that, I sincerely and truly apologize.

However I feel today (which is a little better now that I have taken the time to share and reflect), I have been there in some sense before and as you can see, I've made it back to a place of love and joy so I suspect that at some point down the road I will find myself falling in love once again and whoever she is, whatever face love presents itself with, I will cherish every moment of it as if it were my last because I have known that last moment one too many times.

Thanks for reading and may you all be blessed with finding someone who loves you for everything that you are and all that you can and will be. Never settle for less. One love.

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