14. It’s Valentine’s Day, so write an ode to someone or something you love.
First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day every one! As much as I’m a big believer in sharing your love with people every day of the year I will take any excuse to binge on chocolate or junk food. I would call myself a cynical romantic. I don’t believe in love at first sight. I don’t believe in big, romantic gestures. They never happen, and when they do it kind of creeps me out. I still love people with an open heart, and would do anything for a person I care about. Plus, I love a good romantic comedy. They are cheesy and awful but I still eat them up.
Whenever I’m trying to figure out an angle for a new piece I typically talk to someone I trust to be my devil’s advocate, and no one loves being devil’s advocate more than my father. I didn’t want to waste 500-1,000 words talking about how I much I love my family, my friends, or my fur child Peanut. That’s a given. Instead I wanted to talk about something a little more complicated. So my dad put forth the question, is it really possible to love someone if you don’t love yourself?
Well, my simple answer is no. And my cliche answer is wrapped up in the familiar lyric or quote that is, “before you’re ready for someone else you need to learn to be alright by yourself.” Obviously it is more complicated than that. I mean we don’t stop falling for people, or entering into new relationships just because we’re insecure. This is where my mom jumped into the conversation.
My mom is the first person to come forward about her own personal insecurities. She has battled chronic illness, postpartum depression, anxiety, and the regular mix of insecurities that any woman could be expected to have. Despite going through this she is the most loving human I know. My father and her have been married for nearly thirty years and she has a close relationship with both my brother and I. Her opinion was that no matter what you are going through it doesn’t necessarily dictate your capacity to love others. And naturally this is where I disagreed, or at least partly.
It is less that I think your insecurities limit the ability to love and more the quality in which you can show it, or the quality in what you demand from others. Stephen Chbosky writes in Perks of Being a Wallflower that “we accept the love we think we deserve.” I agree with him. My own experience is that I tend to attract the fixer uppers. The type of guy who needs a constant source of strength. And while these relationships all had their wonderful moments I ultimately left them exhausted, drained of love. I spent a lot of time filling others and didn’t seem to notice I wasn’t being filled myself. A friend and former professor once told me that I was a wounded healer. Meaning my deep desire to give love was linked to my deep wounds, and a history of feeling obligated to a role of peace maker.
It took some time and reflection to realize that people are who they are, and your love cannot change that. People have to want to change and love is not always enough to inspire it. It is not your job to save others with your love. Instead you should love yourself. Love yourself by accepting your imperfections and taking the time to understand how those imperfections will influence the way you interact in all relationships in your life.
My dad says love is a process. It’s the process of taking two imperfect beings and creating a life together that is filling for both. You will never be able to escape all your baggage. Thats impossible, but the more time you take to understand what it is that you’re carrying the easier it will be to engage in loving relationships. Everyone deserves love, but to find it, to hold on to it is hard work. Work that is going to take more than cupid and his arrow.