I didn't sleep last night. I have a lot of heavy stuff on my mind and I just can't let it go and relax enough to sleep.
In the wee hours of the morning I went looking back through some blog archives (including my own) and now I'm thinking, thinking, thinking. About life and love and relationships.
I found the following post in my own blog back on July 10, 2004. Forgive me for being vain enough to repost my own stuff, but it struck a chord in me. And I'm too tired to come up with a new post anyway. It was simply titled...
Things have eased up a little around here and my brain has turned to loftier thoughts.
I have love on the brain today. Often, when readers E-mail me, they will mention how my relationship with my husband gives them hope. Or they will ask me specific questions about love. How do you know when it's real? How do you keep it alive?
I've never thought of myself as an expert on love. Far from it. As a teenager, I made many mistakes. I even let my husband get away in high school because he wasn't cool enough for me.
And the early days of my own true love story were not always fairy-tale happy. There were times when I wondered if I could tolerate him for the rest of my life. There were more times when I wondered if he could tolerate me.
But as my husband's best friend said in his best man toast at our wedding, "They have been through so much. This is not an easy life that they have chosen. But the one thing that we can all see, and feel, through all of it, is love."
I had my fair share of young crushes, or unrequited love, if you will. I have no way to prove it--I haven't done any tests or any research--but I can pretty much guarantee that real love, love that is equally shared between two people, just feels different. That's not to say that one-sided love isn't real. It is. But I just don't think it is true love.
Because true love is almost divine in the way it works out. You can call it meant to be, or destiny. But it can't be forced or fabricated.
True love is like a seed. It is either planted in the dirt, or it isn't. But it needs work to make it grow. A lot of work. And it never stops needing work. But, and this is the important part, if the seed isn't there, no amount of water, or sun, or fertilizer will make it grow. The real trick then, is to be able to see beneath the surface, and know if the seed lies ready or not.
If I have one real talent in life, it is knowing when to hold on to things, and when to let them go. If someone isn't investing enough back into our relationship, I have no problem letting him go. This is probably because I have such a secure safety net of love, that I don't feel the need to hang on. But I also know that in order to be open to new relationships, you have to have room in your heart.
I have a deep faith that there is one true love for everyone. My most fervent wish for my friends, family, even my kids is that they are open to that love when they stumble upon it. And stumble upon it they will, because love may be a messy business, but it's the only kind of falling that feels safe.
Ten years ago, my college softball coach took me aside one night at dinner. She wanted to know if I was sure about getting married. She couldn't understand how I could give up such a promising career for a boy. She wanted me to take a step back, and be sure that I was doing the right thing.
I remember telling her that I had to. I had no choice, because it is useless to refuse your heart. I told her that I knew I should marry my guy when I realized that he was my family. Not the family I was born into, but the family I chose. She didn't understand. And I felt so sorry for her.
Last night, after the babysitter left, my husband and I acted like teenagers. Literally. He couldn't unfasten my bra. He fumbled and fumbled and I laughed and laughed. He started laughing too, and said, "Hey, you're laughing at me."
"That's right," I told him. "I couldn't laugh at you when you did this when you were eighteen, but I can laugh at you now."
And I realized this morning just how wonderful that is. Our challenges are different now, but we know how to face them. We've grown so much together.
My mother always told me that I would just know when it was real love. That's a pretty crappy way to explain it to someone who hasn't felt it before. But she was right. It is only after you've fallen that you can look and say, "Oh yes. This is true love."
So, to my in-love friends out there, isn't it great? It's hard, and it hurts, but it's great.
And to my still-seeking friends out there, may love come to you. Because you are worthy. We all are, but you're especially worthy because you're my friends! The only way to be ready for love when it comes is to practice by loving yourself the best you can.
Awww, damn. And here's a huge hug for anyone who needs it. Because that's what I do.