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Friday, 1 June 2012

Real Love...

When I told a friend I was planning to write a post about Arsenal's come-back-from-the-dead season, I got an eye-roll and a challenge - write about love. Take a break from religion, politics, football etc I was told, and write about real love, adult love, mature love. Welllllll, since I am revisiting a book I am trying to write about a love-story set in Colonial-era Lagos, it might be a good thing to reflect upon love, eh?? ;-)

What is real love? For me, it's warm affection, a solid friendship, a fiery attraction, a healthy dose of lust, the ability to compromise, a tiny bit of friction, the melding and fine-tuning of two personalities into one, some jealousy, plenty of laughter, enjoying each other's company, fighting and making up, sulks & silence, frustration & irritation, pleasure & joy, hard work, commitment, but above all, something that cannot be explained - a knowing, a clicking, a moment when your whole being goes 'ahhhhhhhhh'.

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard. Breaking-up is easy. Holding on is hard. Letting go is easy. Setting a person free and believing if it's right, they'll come back to you is hard.

I read somewhere a few days ago that 'you only really fall in love once' .. and it struck me that it is true. When you meet 'The One', you realise that all those other times your heart was seemingly engaged, were simply a warm-up for this moment. We all have that one person we do not truly get over. There is that one special person who breezes through your defences like the defences never existed - they raise a flag, plant it in your heart, and simply settle in there 'snug as a bug'. They have claimed your heart as their territory. When you really and truly fall in love, you do not fall out. Why? Because you fall deeply and totally into the heart of the other person. You can climb out, you can claw your way out, you can build a ladder and hoist yourself out of their heart - but to really and totally leave, the other person has to give you a helping hand to yank you out of their heart. They have to push you out utterly and totally - you cannot do it yourself.

The 'annoying' thing about this thing called love is that it really is unselfish. In real love, you want the other person's good above yours. You want to make them happy. Your real happiness comes from knowing they are happy. Some people 'fight' this statement and say - no, you have to think of yourself first. But we never say that about our children (if we have them), do we? Our love for our children is sacrificial, it puts their happiness first, we are not out for what we can get from them but we give and give and give. We believe the best of them - we want the best for them. If you do not love your significant other as much as/or more than you love your kids, you really haven't begun loving your significant other properly yet.

If, I can replace the person I think I love easily and swiftly with someone else, then it was not really true love to begin with. Other people can interest you momentarily but deep down you know it's not the same. The one who holds your heart in their hands, can annoy you, frustrate you, irritate the living daylights out of you, drive you crazy, but that person also has the power to make you smile even at your most hurt, when they say 'Baby, I am sorry'. Truthfully, you are already forgiving them at 'Baby'; the 'I am sorry' is simply the icing on the cake. In the words of Renee Ziegler in the film 'Jerry Maguire', after the chap leaves her, then comes back to apologise, giving a long speech, she tells him - 'You had me at hello'. Forgiveness was given BECAUSE he had returned - the apology was dessert - very nice but not the main meal.

Love and forgiveness and trust go hand in hand. A relationship is a 3 pronged pot that will tilt and fall over if any of the legs are missing. The one you love has to know that they can mess up to the max and still be forgiven. This does NOT give anyone a license to mess up - because the one who really loves you will do their best not to mess up. But if (and when) they do, they know they have a home in you.

What's home and where is home? Home is the heart and mind and arms of your beloved. It is where we go to feel safe. It's that place where we are always welcome. It is warmth, and light, and brightness and comfort. It is where we are never rejected even when we are at our worst. It is where we find forgiveness and compassion and understanding. It is where your beloved will forgive you with tears in their eyes and pain in their heart because as much as you've hurt them, they understand and accept your strengths and weaknesses, they love you flaws and all, but above all, they also know that living without you will hurt them even more than the pain you've caused.

Home is where your heart breaks because you've caused the one you love pain.
People sometimes call tears manipulative. Maybe they are, when wielded by manipulative people. But for the heart that deeply loves, tears are sometimes the only way of expressing the intensity, depth and tenderness of what it feels. Only a handful of guys have made me cry - by a handful, I mean I can count em on one hand and have three fingers to spare. LOL. Only one person has ever been able to make me cry more than a few times. When you have the power to make a person cry, it means they care so much, it hurts them when you are hurt, it hurts them to be in your bad books, it hurts them when they get it wrong.

"Had I the heavens embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams .." WB Yeats

In the words of Yeats, be careful with a person's heart. We lay our hearts on the line when we fall in love - we risk rejection and hurt and pain. So if you are in love or a person is in love with you, handle the heart you've been given very carefully - treat it like the precious jewel it is. It is easy to carelessly break a heart but it takes hard work and effort and time to mend a shattered heart.

If you are blessed and fortunate enough to really be in love, then hold on tightly and handle it with care. If you've been hurt, forgive. If you are granted a 2nd chance to get it right, grab it with both hands and work at getting it right. If you can leave and not look back, then don't worry about it, the ability to walk away permanently proves it was not real love. True love might walk away in a huff or in anger or in hurt or in resignation but 10, 20 or 100 miles down the road, it will come to its senses and run back screaming 'take me back please.' The beauty of this - halfway down the road back, you'll find the one you love and left, is also already running towards you screaming 'don't go, please don't leave'.

Love is a glorious gift - sometimes it actually really does come only once in a lifetime.

'Tread lightly because you tread upon my dreams'...


*In using the words hurt and pain above, I am referring to the emotional hurt we can sometimes cause others with words and silence and our actions. I am not referring to physical abuse or prolonged verbal assaults. Real love does NOT want to hurt or damage the other person. Sick warped twisted violence or control-freak mind games is NOT love.

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