I don’t claim to be a love expert by any means.
I have come upon some wisdom from my experiences, and I have learned a few things in my years on this Earth.
What I have learned, is that love is a practice. It is a choice each day.
Even with the love of my life.
Often times, to find out what something is, we first have to find out what something is not.
It took me more than 15 years of failed relationships, often hurt feelings of rejection, years of refusal to commit (on my part), promiscuity, boycotting of dating and solitude before I began to grasp what love is.
First though, I wish to share with you all of the things I thought were love once upon a time, that simply are all the things that love is not.
Love is not clinging and attachment. I have pined, obsessed and wallowed over people convinced that if they would just love me back, I would be okay. That was childish insecurity, not love. It was teenage infatuation which gave way to adult lust. Fueled by physical attraction and the thrill of the hunt. I didn’t even love myself during these young years, so how could I love another?
I have cared very deeply for many through my years, thinking it was love. I would’ve done anything in my power for some of these people, but now in hindsight I see, it was never love. It couldn’t have been because I had no clue what true love was until I first found it within myself, for myself.
Love is not sex. Sex is an amazing part of love but it is just that—a part.
Love is not need.
Love is not control.
Love is not an accomplishment that we can earn or work our way into. It is a divine gift. In my early twenties, it was a mad dash to see who could get married the quickest, lucky for me I didn’t rush into anything that wasn’t “it.” (Not to say that everyone who did marry then is not happily in love, it just was not my path).
It is not blame, and it is not demands. There are no conditions. When we find ourselves saying, “I would just love you more if…” This is not love. Love does not wish to alter the other being.
There is no fear in love. It’s not an object nor concrete, so it can’t be lost or taken away. It is not ours to cling to and hold.
In love there is no judgement. We see, we accept, and we love even more.
Love is not codependence. Love is a team sport between equals.
Through discarding all these misconceptions, I have found what real, true love is:
Love is divine. It is free. We give it freely with no expectation of anything in return.
Love is compassion and nurturing.
It is pure bliss and happiness.
Free from judgement and free from ego. In love there is a beautiful free space to make mistakes, to fall short, as well as to grow, flower and blossom. Like a garden, if we nurture it grows, if we strangle it dies.
Love is really just a reflection of our true soul natures, and when we are in touch with that divine place we reflect love outwardly, thus attracting it back. When we trust this within ourselves we then trust it in everyone else. This gets rid of that insecure need for reassurance we once had.
Love is always there within us. It just gets blocked up and clouded by worldly desires, clamoring, ego, selfishness, pride, anger and all of our human stuff.
Love is dynamic, fluid and ever-changing. Once we can accept this there is true happiness.
We never stop loving others, we just may stop being in love with them. We don’t see it at the time of course, but the love for the other is still there, we just stop choosing that person. We allow all the hurts, the behaviors that bug us, and our egos to get in the way. It starts taking work to stay in the practice of being “in love” and we think back to that infatuation stage and mistake that for love. “How easy and fun it was then” we cry to ourselves. “That is what love should be” we say.
We get all self-righteous and forget that we are a team. My partner and I have acknowledged this dynamic and we commit regularly to remembering we are a team, and that we love each other. When I slip, and my temper flares, I want to make everyone the enemy, and he gently reminds of our goals and the bigger picture. And when he slips, and feels insecure, seeking reassurance, we talk until he comes back to the place of love that we have practiced growing.
No one writes novels about the work it takes to keep the love story going after the fairy tale, and thus we believe it should all be rainbows.
Here’s the thing—when we find the true love space within and then with another, the hard times and messy times are exactly what creates the rainbows, thus we appreciate even the challenges. When we mutually agree, respect, and choose one another each day there is nothing that can take that away from us.
But first, it must come from within.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Travis May
Images: Pixoto/Charlotte Hellings