What is Love?

Last night was a good night and a tough night. I had success in finding a movie that I had not seen and my daughter wanted to watch. This is not as easy as one would think with so many options at our fingertips these days. We surfed through Hulu, Netflix and Prime to finally find a winner…”Letters to Juliet”. I knew she would agree when I said it was based on Romeo and Juliet. She likes the twists and turns in an on screen romance. She watches tv shows more than once, even the ones with 16 seasons. She gets emotionally involved in the characters and stories. I understand her. I have done this with so many movies and tv shows. I have loved watching movies and tv since I was young. This world of characters called me into acting and production for part of my life. No, I am not an actress now. I would have been great but never got that chance to show the world what I had in me. I learned so much from that screen filled with stories of love, pain and strength. I have been brought to tears from someone I have never met and anger for someone who really didn’t do anything. I have also been brought to a place of deep questions for my own life. Last night was one of those nights. This movie made me reflect on, “What is love?” I mean real, deep love for another person unrelated to you.

The main character, Sophie, with a distracted fiancé on one side and realist pessimist on the other, contemplates what love is to her. Interesting combination of two men in a movie to make a girl think about her heart. Is love having someone who shares your level of passion for work, even to the point of making it a priority over you? Is love balancing the pessimist and the optimist (the opposites attract theory) into a solid middle ground where a foundation of love is created? What is love? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do you know it when it arrives? Hollywood is always trying to answer this and make us feel what love is. But after years and years and years of watching that screen, I know that they answer it but I don’t know for myself.

As I fell asleep last night, a sad realization covered me like the heaviest of weighted blankets. This one was not soothing like it should be when an understanding enlightens the darkness. I have no idea what love like this really does feel or look like. I know what it is to fall in love the moment you see your baby for the first time. The moment they grab your hand and look up like they are safe and happy. The moment they come to you with a heavy heart and embrace you for comfort and you would do anything for them. You would take every ounce of pain so that they never have to feel it again. I love my children so much that I would never hesitate to sacrifice my life for them. I know this love as a parent. What about love like falling in love with a partner, a soulmate, a significant other, a spouse? The heavy realization was that I have never really been in love like this. I have never felt this kind of love. I have never seen this kind of life in a man towards me. What does that safety and warmth look like and what would it do make sure you knew it was there?

My relationships when I was young were not love they were what I think of as “young love”. I was too young to really understand what it all meant and was and could be. I wanted to believe in love and destiny and all that was in the movies. Then I was in a place that I wasn’t supposed to be in and met a guy who was not what I was looking for in my new 30s. It was destiny that I was there. It was destiny that we met. Right? I wanted to believe this despite all of the red flags popping up from the start. I wanted to believe in love, truly destined love. But I never stopped to really think or dive into my head and heart, I just let the Hollywood-like story play out. Looking back now I wasn’t in love, really in love. In the movie, Sophie talked about realizing that she wasn’t in love with her fiancé because she wasn’t upset when they were apart; she didn’t miss him like she should. When the pessimist started to warm up when he saw the long lost love reunion of his grandmother in action, Sophie felt his warmth reach her soul. She understood his transformation because she was transforming too. They were coming to the understanding of love together. That is where love starts…that understanding of personal transformation together. She missed not seeing him, hearing him or being near him. She knew she had to end her engagement and tell the other guy of her love.

That is what I have not experienced in my life. That feeling that your life is missing a piece without that person. I was hit by many rough and heavy bricks laying in bed last night alone. Here they are. I saw that I didn’t miss him when we were apart. Even when we were constantly together and I had to work in France for three weeks, I strongly debated with myself about permanently returning to France. It is all I had ever wanted to do. My opportunity was so close now. Upon returning to the States, it should have been like a movie and that great definitive moment upon seeing him that I knew to choose him. Not so. He didn’t even pick me up at the airport after all this time and saying how much he missed me. He sent a car service. How unromantic and unfulfilling, so why did I not see that he was not truly in love with me then? You truly love and miss someone and decide you can’t lose them, you don’t send a car service. Maybe that is what I needed a grand gesture to make me trust love, to trust his love. This guy in the movie crawled up a wall of vines to be closer to her when he professed his unspoken love for Sophie. That is a grand gesture. I had been empty of anyone showing that in any way and still was. Maybe I needed to see love in order to let mine free. This is how it went in marriage for us. No grand gestures of love instead grand gestures of betrayal. So when we were apart, I didn’t miss him in love but worried in pain of more betrayals. Love couldn’t grow in that setting. Love needs love to grow. Someone needs to be missed in order to miss. Understanding each other leads to the transformation of love. I tried to understand him with every ounce of my mind and heart. I really did. But it is hard to understand a chameleon. It is hard to feel safe and have love grow in an inconsistent world.

It is more than just missing someone though. It is a feeling deep into your toes. You see on people’s faces who are deeply in love. It is like that person makes them feel so blessed, secure and seen that they glow. How do they get this right in movies so often? I have never felt this either. I never felt so calm because of love creating a secure place. I often felt like my husband looked right through me and I didn’t really exist. His hand and his embrace stopped giving me that sense of safety and warmth that it did occasionally in the beginning of our story. I never felt that lava seep down from a kiss into my toes like I had finally arrived at home instead of just a night of passion. Even on my wedding day, that excitement and warmth of walking down the aisle towards a man that felt like the place where you belonged to be, was not there. I wanted to feel that. I hoped to feel that. I did have that feeling of loving him and wanting to spend my life with him. I promised and committed my life and growing in love on that day. I kept that promise and worked on growing in love and never was disloyal to him. But now I am not sure why I felt that way. I had not had that moment of truly knowing for sure that love was our understanding. I had not had that warmth of security flow through my veins into my heart and make me feel that transformation for us. I didn’t hold his hand and never want to let it go. I forgave him over and over and tried harder than I think most would have tried. I wanted to make it work because I didn’t want to fail for my children’s sake. I wanted them to see loving parents as I had seen. But I am very rare in that aspect even then. I decided it was worse for me to stay and teach my children that love is how much pain you can tolerate. Now I cannot even remember him or us as part of my life because he never put himself in it or made love grow. How can you love someone who isn’t really there?

I do want to feel that deep love for someone and from someone. To feel that security in the simplicity of holding hands and being embraced. To feel the lava of a kiss solidify deep into your toes and stay beyond the initial passion. To feel that desire to see the face or hear the voice when you are apart. I think my marriage was doomed from the start because my desire to deeply love was never given the opportunity to grow. Acid doesn’t make a plant grow. And lies, secrets, manipulations and false professions do not make love grow. I wish I had felt that deep love grow after we first met. Maybe someday someone will climb a wall of vines to make sure I understand that we share a transformation of understanding our love and I will feel that warmth, security and genuine passion throughout my entire body and mind. Not every story ends with true love’s kiss. That is okay. My story is continuing with self-love, strength and an acceptance and understanding of being on my own and working towards my goals again. I allowed someone to steal my understanding of what love is to me, but I will never do that again. I am worth more than that. Love is worth more than that. Here’s to finding love like the movies. Keep watching and learning and asking the deep questions of life so you can grow into the person that you are meant to be…happy and loving yourself.

Breathe Out Questions, Breathe In Understanding. Breathe Out Failures, Breathe In Moving On. Breathe Out Staying in Pain, Breathe In Letting Go Towards Self-Love. Breathe Out False Love of Others, Breathe In Deep Love of Self. Breathe Out Being Alone, Breathe In Being Whole.

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