Things I learned about love in 2015:
I can fall in love.
I used to wonder if I could. Then this year happened. Multiple times, sometimes at the drop of a hat, which is not reassuring because:
Love is blind.
When you’re in love even serious red flags don’t look like flaws at all. When you come out on the other side of it, you’re suddenly terrified because – how on earth did you not notice?
Love needs community.
The above issue is at least helped by having other people who are not in love to see the person you are in love with clearly. Not always–sometimes everyone can be deceived (which is utterly terrifying), but it at least helps.
Community also is necessary for the aftermath of love. I am still in awe of how many people showed up in the aftermath–people I thought were mere acquaintances tried to show they really cared, people I’d never have asked to be there, people I thought were only friends out of convenience went out of their way to get through to me. And, of course, I found out once again how strong the love of true friendship, and the love of family, actually is.
I’m also amazed by how often I was provided what I needed by someone unexpected–I believe this is the hand of God. We always think we know what will help, but he knows better. He works through people we would’ve never picked ourselves.
This is obvious, but it’s a different thing to actually experience. Also, a good chunk of it came from my own assumptions about other people, so I almost feel like I should experience this feeling.
It hurts to let go of hopes and dreams and visions of what could be–it hurts even when it’s so clear they only could ever exist in your imagination anyway. You’ve already anticipated the reality of these things happening. Endings hurt, but sometimes there’s no way to avoid the agony.
And self-deception hurts. I had this opinion of myself that I don’t assume about what friendliness to me means–and then I fell into this trap and it stings. Let’s hope it’s just my pride in my non-existent ability to read others that stings. ‘Cuz a good dose of reality can be self-improving.
And lastly, I really want to think positively about people. I don’t want to believe they’ve been manipulative, or dishonest. And it hurts to face this reality as well. Even wholesome-seeming people can act contrary to your impression of them.
Honesty and vulnerability turn out different than you think.
First off, if you’re honest about how you feel on facebook, and your feelings are anything other than happy, people think you’re about to jump off a cliff. Because no one ever admits to anything other than happiness on facebook, right? So if you do you must be incredibly desperate. Cue the frantic interventions!
Second, this blog this year had itself been an experiment in vulnerability (well, that and inactivity, but we’ll leave that aside for now*). I posted a couple of posts trying to use words to express feelings I’ve never felt before. But I also found I didn’t always want to use my writing in this way–I didn’t want to be vulnerable through art. Does this make me not a ‘true artist’?
This was difficult for me because writers are always told to be real about feelings. This didn’t mesh with my instinct to run away from those feelings. I spent a good amount of time wondering if I was wasting my time writing at all. I’ve always been a writer my whole life, and I know I always will be, But maybe I’ll never turn out to be a good one.
I now think when you’re a person who tries to create things–whether through writing or other arts–you can bring out the ‘real’ but you’re not obligated to every moment. It’s your experience, and sometimes it’s beneficial to you or to other people to explore it, and sometimes it isn’t. And that’s ok.
I’m sharing now because I do process things through writing, but also because after enough time it does feel important to be real about emotions. Facebook doesn’t always have to be a facade, and blogging doesn’t either. If no one ever talks about how they really feel, every time someone feels a little sad it will continue to be a shock.
So I’ve come to a conclusion about Pain and Art–but what is my conclusion on love? A few things:
You’re going to experience the full spectrum of emotion with love, not just fairytale happiness–mad and sad and frustrated and scared. Because love is a wild emotion, not a tame one.
Love is bound up in trust, and all too often the only being I know intellectually I can trust one hundred percent–God–I don’t always.
But in the end, the beauty of live between friends and family, and the feeling of love from God, means there must be something to this whole love business after all. Love as an emotion in and of itself has value, despite the turmoil.
*Note on my blog inactivity: Just because I haven’t been blogging hasn’t meant I haven’t written other things–one of the many things I did this year was to try get more honest feedback from professionals, which was nerve-wracking but incredibly positive in the end. I also developed my interviewing skills by writing up another person’s difficult life experience, which was an important way to grow for me. And I continued finishing pieces of fiction of mine, and submitting as appropriate.
For this blog, I do plan to start blogging somewhat regularly again in the new year. About books and writing and the struggle to create art that means something to people, just as usual. Hope to see you and your lovely comments here too!