3.3
August 27, 2015

Loving When It’s Hardest.

self-love, body image, heart

The best loving happens on the worst days.

You know the kind of day: You wake up late, the dog threw up (or worse yet, the kids are throwing up), your car won’t start, there’s freezing rain coming down, you can’t find your wallet, you spill your coffee—and it all happens before you are out the door.

In the early days of a budding romance, I never wanted to share these nitty gritty (gruesome) details of my life.

I’d battle on, pick up the pieces (or not), call my mom or a friend and whine a little—piteously—and begin again the next morning. There’s nothing wrong with getting through a challenging day like that, and keeping some pieces of our lives to ourselves—even while in a committed relationship—is a healthy practice.

But oh, how I now realize my love for my partner all the more on those bitter, hard days.

Even if he is away, and I am not my best self (read: crabby), the thought remains that someone out there loves me when doom and gloom strikes, when the mini-catastrophes (or, heaven forbid, a major one) come calling—as they will.

True love happens when someone sees your disgusting, sick-as-a-dog, vomiting self, or, alternately, your secret self (you know, the little weirdnesses you don’t talk about on the first date (or first four): your phobia about clipping your toenails, or your shameful obsession with the Kardashians; that you eat crackers and cheese in bed, or that you once went two weeks without washing your hair), and says, “to hell with it, count me in.”

I am quite possibly most grateful for my partner when I am able to crawl into bed at the end of the worst kind of day—a day when I lost my temper, and apologized and cried, and was overwhelmed or full of anxiety, or just lost—and his arms reach for me without question.

This kind of love doesn’t mean that I’m not independent. It doesn’t mean that I can’t take care of myself, or that my loved one lets me get away with poor behaviour, or that some days I don’t still reach out for the phone and a friend to vent to.

It means that my lover has seen me at my worst, and he’s okay with that.

He’s glad to put up with the occasional wretched day because he knows the good days that marry along with them. He knows that I’ll be around when his life doesn’t go as planned.

In all my visions of romance as a young girl, I imagined being swept off my feet.

I knew my beau-to-be would woo me with words, love my taste in depressing acoustic indie music and have devoured all the same books as me. My dearly beloved would never snap at me, and we’d go on long runs together, crunching romantically through crisp fall leaves.

I never pictured real love as what happens when it all goes to hell—when your basement floods or you lose your job or you have a health crisis.

I had no idea real love was someone seeing past all your attractive qualities, to your core, essential being—the very center of you-ness—and valuing that, even in times of trouble or pain. Even when it might cost them hours they’d rather spend relaxing in front of the television to help you with your basement, or sit with you at the hospital or love you through the not-so-pretty stuff.

It doesn’t come in as neat a package, and some days you may not realize it until after the crisis—after you’ve gotten through it all and come out the other side and realized you still have someone beside you, but it’s true: The best loving happens on the very worst days. 

That’s love worth hanging onto.

In my case, it’s worth turning off the depressing indie songs and happily listening to 80’s hair metal bands, sometimes.

I believe that the love we don’t expect—the love that is shown to us when we are at our least lovable, when we don’t know where to turn—is one of the greatest gifts we are ever given by another human.

I try, every day, to recognize this gift when it’s given to me.

And to love other, imperfect humans exactly as they are, in return.

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Relephant read:

Lessons in Love from My Parents’ 50+ Year Marriage.

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Author: Keeley Milne

Editor: Toby Israel

Photos: Alex/FlickrCharlotte Astrid/Flickr

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