Sometimes someone comes into our lives like an unexpected storm on the sea.
Maybe we’re used to a different kind of person. Maybe we’re used to a quiet kind of love, or only loving bad boys. Maybe we’ve been spending time on our own after always having stardust in our eyes.
And maybe, when they come in (in the way they do), we are jolted to life or lulled to sleep by the song in their eyes.
Either way, a storm comes.
And storms do come. This is life. Sometimes we think this is love, and sometimes it’s a lesson disguised as a burning passion for the one who broke into our hearts, taking us completely by surprise.
Either way, we can run from it, or we can face it—and hopefully learn more about our inner workings from its intensity.
There are as many kinds of love as there are people.
And then there is that one.
The question mark. The pause in our life. The rest between notes.
The one who shook the ground under our feet until we didn’t know what we were doing anymore, or even who we were beyond that feeling. They seemed to be some spell caster, like the Magician in the tarot. The one who perfectly matched (it seemed) something that had been buried in us, and brought it back to life.
That depth of feeling leaves us stranded, holding our unsteady hearts and wondering:
Is this love? What is this?
That feeling of home from the start.
But home—like love—looks different to different people.
Maybe their eyes are so familiar, and that’s why we feel like we’ve been stabbed breathless the first time they arrive.
And maybe, through their words and caresses, we think they feel the same.
And then, maybe, we wake one day—a few years or decades later—and realize it’s all been illusion. They played a part in our growth, yes. But it wasn’t love.
Maybe all of it happened to wake us up.
To reveal the buried things that needed looking at so we could finally be healed of them and whole.
To prepare us for the love that would be best for us.
Maybe we were intense enough on our own and adding to the intensity would serve no purpose.
They call that twin flames—those relationships that are so heated, so weird and so connected, yet so tragic, because the loss of the ideal, the loss of the person who brought out those hidden shadows in us, feels an awful lot like grief.
After a realization like that, we experience a sort of pseudo death. We are left with our shadows dancing, and we heal them slowly over time. We realize that this was a mysterious but effective tool to bring out the best in us and prepare us for what we really need.
In day-to-day living, something more grounded might be best. It was for me.
Because love (real love) looks like action.
Love is in the dailies.
It looks like arguing on Saturday morning—sometimes the walls shake—and then making up on Saturday night.
It looks like our hands held or our backs rubbed when we’re sick and feeling down.
It looks like going a little crazy sometimes (as we lose our minds again about some injustice in the world) and them not giving up.
It’s them saying, “I love all of you.” It’s them staying, in spite of the grief in our bones that they don’t even begin to comprehend.
It looks like, “I’ll pick up our child. Go back to bed. Rest. I’ve got this.”
It looks like still holding hands at the grocery store a decade later, and their hand is on our knee, driving in the car.
Love is knowing what we take in our coffee, and bringing it unasked.
Love looks like middle of the night talks or frantic calls at work because someone died, and we don’t know how to deal with it, and even though they don’t know how to deal with it either, their, “I know, babe” is enough to calm us for the day.
Nothing in life comes with a manual. Not even love and death.
Love looks like support of our wildest dreams, even if there isn’t an artistic bone in their body or ours. And love is that look in their eyes even when they don’t understand, and it’s us looking back knowing we have memories both horrible and wonderful and miraculous to get us through whatever is coming next in life.
After all, we’ve had on-the-job training with love in action.
It means believing each other and trusting each other because we’ve been through some harrowing journeys together.
Love is being there—wholly there—at all times:
Fire and Ice.
Birth and Loss.
Candlelit moments and football games.
Love is learning how they love.
For me, love takes time. Falling in love can take a moment. Staying open to loving actively, when the chips are down, takes practice.
I heard all the pretty words, once.
From a handsome, sculpted face burned into my memory and preserved in my poetry for the shadows he taught me. Maybe his sole purpose in my life was to help me know myself—to prepare me for when active love showed up.
My heart used to pound out of my chest when I heard a song that reminded me of him.
But now, my heartbeat is steady.
The first was my storm-tossed sea.
The last is my shoreline.
Author: Glynis Barr
Image: Matheus Ferrero/Unsplash
Editor: Toby Israel