The Question of who messed up in the relationship always finds a very quick accusing finger; it is the person telling the story of a heartbreak that ultimately has the answer: suggesting the other party screwed up everything. This is both true and false, for the most part; it is the accusing finger that really messed up stuff. We should get used to taking the blame, we should unlearn looking for someone to blame, and we ought to learn to love: loving is learned, it is mastered, and it is a repetitive cycle of working very hard to be better lovers.
I think it takes a long time to find an article that resonates well on love. When I find one, I wish every one of us that aims at being a better love reads it, because love is the most important and strongest force on earth. We want beautiful pure adulterated love but we are so lazy to make an effort to earn it, we forget love needs some effort, some refute that but here’s the reality especially when everything goes ripe over the bend: these were our choices, every step of the way, and that state which we’ve found ourselves falling in and out of is not real love. Real love is an act of will. A decision. A conscious activity. It is something you do and live. Love is chosen, and if it is protected and nurtured, it grows. Love is sacrifice. Love is effort. Love is everything St. Paul describes in First Corinthians, and especially in Ephesians 5: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.” Love is dying to the self. Love is many things, and none of them happen by accident.
We are poor lovers because we have been taught to love the wrong way, we have been taught the wrong verbs and adjectives to spell the word love: we are poor receptors and givers of love. Sugarcoating love doesn’t cut, it makes love more vulnerable: love is a journey full of tidal waves. It can be tough, ugly and it can be smooth. I love to look at love like a Poem, and this analogy often brings me to what Gwendolyn Brooks gave to her students as a piece of advice, In writing your poem, tell the truth as you know it. Tell your truth. Don’t try to sugar it up. Don’t force your poem to be nice or proper or normal or happy if it does not want to be. Remember that poetry is life distilled and that life is not always nice or proper or normal or happy or smooth or even-edged.
So many books have been written about love. So many movies have been produced, but still love remains one of the most talked things on earth, that begs the question every fraught lover asks: what is love? Interestingly, and out rightly so, as Caroline Paul wrote about Love , Loss and what it means to be human, in her book Lost Cat, “Every quest is a journey, every journey a story. Every story, in turn, has a moral,” writes Caroline in the final chapter, and then offers several “possible morals” for the story, the last of which embody everything that makes Lost Cat an absolute treat from cover to cover: You can never know your cat. In fact, you can never know anyone as completely as you want. But that’s okay, love is better.
While love remains one of the most interesting subjects, the question of what love is can be answered, it’s more about being our authentic selves and letting the best people have us: In the presence of the lover, evaluation will no longer be so swift and cynical. They will lavish time. As we tentatively allude to something, they will get eager and excited. They will say ‘go on’ when we stumble and hesitate. They will accept that it takes a lot of attention to slowly unravel the narrative of how we came to be the people we are. They won’t just say ‘poor you’ and turn away. They will search out relevant details; they will piece together an accurate picture that does justice to our inner lives. And instead of regarding us as slightly freakish in the face of our confessions, they will kindly say ‘me too.’ The fragile parts of ourselves will be in safe hands with them. We will feel immense gratitude to this person who does something that we had maybe come to suspect would be impossible: know us really well and still like us. We will have escaped from that otherwise dominant, crushing sense that the only way to get people to like us is to keep most of what we are under wraps.