There are so many ways to get hurt in love.
I know them intimately, like the cracks of dry skin on my palms, like the scars above my knee from when I fell off my bike when I was 10.
There are so many ways to f*ck it up.
I can name them two by two as they skip off to make trouble and cause mayhem in a city near you.
There’s betrayal and miscommunication, distraction and disappointment. There’s annoyance and irritation. There’s fear of losing and loss, even within a single day’s worth of hellos and goodbyes. There’s cheating and lying, there’s coldness and icy distance…just to name a few.
What a list. Yes, bitterness and powerlessness have entered the room, folks. Pessimism, too. I shiver in response and force the tears back.
But you know what? I’d like to think about it all in a different way—because power is right there, next to the powerlessness. Sweetness is there, right next to the fear.
Their fingers are even touching, clasped and balmy at times.
Honestly, I think the vulnerability of it all is outstanding.
Even if love doesn’t turn out the way we expect it to, we learn. We grow. We dig deep into the dirt and find treasures in our chests we didn’t know were there.
It’s not easy, no.
But it’s real.
And it’s astonishing what’s revealed as we dare to look down into the landscapes of our hearts—as we bravely peer into the reflection that a relationship provides.
We can touch into our deepest essence and swim around in the crisp, mysterious waters of our souls. We get a clear view of who we want to be, who we don’t want to be—and who we are right now.
We see what wounds are still lingering with secret ache. We see what regrets are hanging out like cobwebs in the basements of our beings.
We begin to witness what we need. We try to ask for it—sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. And that’s okay.
We learn about compromise, and are occasionally dumbfounded by the sudden appearance of our stubborn streak in bold italics—who me?
And you know what? I just think it all feels so much more spacious when love doesn’t mean waiting with bated breath for happily ever after, tied neatly with a bow
But is woven instead with a simple promise we can uphold:
I will learn you. How you act silly when you’re feeling really vulnerable.
You will learn me. How I get quiet when I’m sad and lash out when I’m hurt.
Maybe it really is that simple.
We can keep listening, keep leaning in, keep the conversations wide-open and flowing.
We can agree to stumble through it all, knowing full well it won’t always be pretty.
But it will be worth it.
Because learning you feels sweet.
Because I am learning about me too. And me oh my, what a wild path it has been—messy, overgrown, and hidden in spots. But alas, I keep going.
I’m learning that my needs matter. I’m learning how to speak up, that my voice has weight, that my heart deserves to feel safe and joyful in her gentle beauty. I am learning to stop apologizing so damn much. I am learning how easily I can lose myself and fall face-first into the seductive traps of my old codependent ways.
Bear with me now; I’m having a Carrie Bradshaw moment like it’s 2003…and I can’t help but wonder—is love only successful if it ends in “I do?” Is it not already successful if it encourages self-inquiry and growth?
Questions bloom and outnumber the answers.
Yes, there are so many ways to get hurt in love. It can feel like a freakin’ minefield.
But there are also so many ways to heal.
At the end of the day, we can’t avoid the inherent vulnerability of living with a beautiful, beating, human heart.
We can’t escape the tender risks that come whispering alongside love.
But would we really want to?