I reflect a lot on love – my life has given me a fair bit of experience with so many aspects of it and it still is a main musing. This post about love is to share two moments from shows I’ve watched recently that have stuck with me. The quotes about love are real, they hit me hard, and I believe it stems from truths that few of us care to admit or face.
First, these words from Hot Priest in Fleabag:
Love is awful. It’s awful. It’s painful. It’s frightening. Makes you doubt yourself, judge yourself, distance yourself from the other people in your life. Makes you selfish, makes you creepy, makes you obsessed with your hair. Makes you cruel. Makes you do and say things you never thought you’d do. It’s all any of us want, and it’s hell when we get there. So no wonder its something we don’t want to do on our own. I was told if we are born with love, then life is about choosing the right place to put it. People talk about that a lot, it feeling right. When it feels right, it’s easy … but I’m not sure that’s true. It takes strength to know what’s right. And love isn’t something that weak people do. Being a romantic takes a hell of a lot of hope. I think what they mean is, when you find somebody that you love, it feels like hope.
This is not what we traditionally think about love, but damn if this isn’t true at its core. To be truly open to love, honest and deep healing love, we also have to be willing to brave the vulnerability, we have to open up to allow it. It takes incredible courage. We all discuss how the right love adds to our capacity for happiness, allows us to reach even further than we could imagine, and sets our souls alight. We tend to gloss over how unsettling that can be, when you’re scared to let someone else see the real you, how you doubt that they could love you, and how you judge every bit of yourself hoping to find the faults before they do so you can work out how to fix it and save face. We don’t discuss how painful it can be to do the right thing, over the easy thing. It’s easy to hide; it takes courage to love. I believe this is the hell that is referenced here, not necessarily the love itself, but the sheer risk of choosing to receive love. Sure, you can let someone repeatedly say nice things to you, do nice things for you, take advantage of their favor, but that internal fear that one day they will find you out and change their mind, or worse, call you out for not being perfect or for hiding. Either way, there’s an anxiety to accepting the ‘good’ without accepting the whole, which is ultimately more fulfilling than you can imagine, uncomfortable and all. But you can’t feel true love if you’re partially open and partially hidden. That’s a half-life. It’s crushing. It can take every ounce of your being to say, screw it, let them love me as I truly am, I am here for it. Jumping off a cliff, as invigorating as it may be, does not come easy for most. And when you’ve been abandoned, ignored, repeatedly told what your problems are, or hurt otherwise, being open to love is even more difficult to tackle.
I pray that many of you do not understand this from experience, but I’d guess that more of you have felt this than not. Even the most confident among us have probably felt similar to some degree.
I am one of those people that wants to be open to it. I guess that’s the exhilaration that I can handle. Roller coasters, no. Horror films or scary anything, nope. Vulnerability to love, sure! What?!?! Oy vey.
It takes a lot for me to feel connected and move beyond a nice date to be open to love, thank you INFJ, but I’m proud that I’ve not held back, even with the anxiety. I’ve fought the anxiety and half-life to jump into the waters. I’ve swum back to shore lonely, but I can hold my head knowing I did my best and held on to my integrity the majority of the way. This doesn’t mean I don’t feel that anxiety, haven’t fought it. Every. Day. Some days I fail and struggle with the shame of it, some days I succeed and dance in the light. And dammit, I’m proud.
Second, these words from Aunt Josephine in Anne with an E:
I’ve never bought into that “You Just Know” notion. Love is a tricky thing. Sometimes it feels like an undeniable force that hits between the eyes and doesn’t let up. Other times, it’s malleable, questionable. It’s truth hidden in and amongst external obstacles and internal circumstances that’ve formed who you are, what you expect in the world, and how you can accept love … Oh, to say the least, it’s complicated. And if a mind’s abuzz with pressure and deadlines and “What if this and that,” I imagine love’s truth would be a near-impossible thing to feel. I wonder if, when all’s quiet in your mind, you’ll find your answer.
Well, shit Aunt Jo.
For the record, I’ve watched this episode of the show probably four times in the last week or so. Aunt Jo is one of my favorite characters – strong-willed woman who asserts herself and doesn’t take a step back for anyone. I need to assume some of that energy into my own life. But I digress …
I do believe love is tricky. I have been through and witnessed enough complicated relationships to know that it’s not all fairy tales and rainbows or horrible people and breakups. Sometimes, good people do bad things. Sometimes, great people are toxic for each other. Sometimes, a really good person is so lost, they cannot find their way back despite themselves. And sometimes, we are so hurt by a bad past relationship that we are responsible for hurting others. Those external forces, those internal beliefs – how can love get through? It’s tricky and complicated and it doesn’t make sense all the time. I do believe love can hit you and/or grow on you, and it is absolutely true that it can fight against all of our walls with its magical powers. I believe it can win, but I also know it can lose its footing. I know, beyond a doubt, that true love is magical, fulfilling, and stronger than anything we can imagine in our minds. But we all have to fight for it, sometimes, by clearing our mind and refusing to allow logic to try and make sense of it. Magic is not always logical.
What hit me most from this quote – that love is truth. It’s not external or internal, it’s love. It fights against our limiting beliefs, it fights against what the world is telling us, it fights and fights until it wins or dies trying.
Love is like home. Love is hope. And love will win, even if we cannot fathom how. 😊
[Fleabag is on Amazon Prime and Anne with an E on Netflix – go watch.]