What is Love? Don’t hurt me…don’t hurt me no more.

If you remember the 80’s you sang that title in your head…don’t lie.

I want to talk about Love.  I’ve been mulling this over in my head for days…but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around exactly what I want to focus on.

See, growing up the way I did, love was abusive.  I didn’t really know that at the time, I just knew when my mother beat me, or when she shamed me, or embarrassed me in public, it was all because she loved me, because she said so.

When I was married, I don’t think my husband ever told me he loved me.  I’m not sure he even said yes when I asked if he loved me.  In all fairness, I’m not sure I loved him…but the problem with that is that I don’t really know what it means to love. I was comfortable with him.  It was familiar and for all intensive purposes it was the kind of love I knew.

If you are raised to believe that love is abusive…or that the people who are the main and most important people in your life tell you that the abuse = love, but it’s not abuse, and you are making shit up or that they can love you this way, but to show your love to them you must do it that way…it’s hard to say  with clear certainty that I loved my husband.

What I do know, is I tried.  With all of my fucked up examples, all the books, the years of therapy, the tears, the begging, the KNOWING that neglect, emotional abuse, shame, abandonment, withholding of affection was not what love was, I still tried like hell to love that man.  BUT, if I can be honest with myself, maybe what I was really trying to do was get him to love me, the way I needed, not the way I was used to.

I love my kids…this I know for sure.  No matter what, those kids taught me the truest meaning of love.  It was through them that I learned that I was lucky enough to have had other people in my life that loved me in a true and honest way.  My paternal grandmother for instance.  I remember crying so much when she died…I remember thinking that was the last person on this earth (besides my kids) that truly loved me for who I was and that I was being abandoned and left in the clutches of an abusive mother and a love-less marriage. Damn.

Though, because of the negative and abusive way I was loved, and because I was fortunate to have had a few people in my life who loved me in positive ways, I was able to show my kids love in the best way.  At least I think I have.  I do those things I wish my mother had done.  I apologize when I am wrong, I let them have room to be who they want to be and not who I want them to be, and I tell them I love them…I tell them often, and I back it up with action, not abuse.

I wrote once about being asked by my counselor if I loved the Hunky Stallion.  At that time, I was thrown completely off.  I knew, I had not a single clue if I loved him or if I just wanted to be in love.  It was a reflective moment that lasted a super long fucking time.  Do you love him? Do you know what love even looks like? Are you just imagining a Disney like romance that doesn’t even exists? Are you following old patterns?  He’s damaged, you know this, are you looking for someone to fix or are these genuine feelings?  Love??? Bitch please, you don’t even know what love is.

Nope.  I am certain that my feelings at that time were not feelings of love…they were feelings of infatuation: an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something.  At that time, it was more about passion, than intimacy and love. Then one day it happened.  Did he just say he loved me??? I mean, it wasn’t just me he was talking to but…um, I think in a roundabout way he said it.  I will ignore this because, um, well, yeah…I’ll just ignore it.  What the fuck??? Did he just say it again??? It wasn’t to my face…and he may have said I love “this” and not you but why don’t you just ignore it anyway…You know because, ew…feelings.

Like most people who have had bad relationships…I knew like I knew what the gates of hell looked like (um the door to my past relationships) that I was NOT going to be the first to say I love you. I was NOT going to even acknowledge it until he was in my face telling me he loved me without any distraction or misconception.  No fucking way was I going to be the first to say it…cause, well, you know that this isn’t really love anyway and this ain’t going to last so don’t put yourself out there and look like a god-damned idiot.

I don’t listen to myself very often.  Probably not at all…so I did it. Not to his face, geez, do I look like a strong, self-assured woman to you??? Nope I said it in a text…and I started by saying “listen fucker” ….and off it went. I went and threw that word out there…wondering where it would land, but not caring too much cause for once I knew that it was genuine and even if it wasn’t reciprocated, I felt good about letting it out.  I am used to loving without it being returned…and yet, I felt safe enough to know it would not be used against me, even if he didn’t feel the same.

He did not let it linger out there on its own for long.  He addressed it and we had a beautiful talk.  For once in my life, my love was not used as a weapon against me, to hurt me, to keep me in my place to be bargained and beaten down with.  It was received…and it was embraced.  For once, in my 47 years on this earth, I felt like Love was a safe emotion to express (to someone who did not come out of my lady parts).  I’m going to just let that sink in to my bones for a while.  I am not going to get all mushy and start dreaming of our wedding or a fantasy life that ends like a Nicholas Sparks book. Fuck that shit.  I am going to just revel in the peace of knowing that it landed in the hands of someone who will not abuse it, or me because of it.  That, for me, for now…is enough.

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