‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
The Romantic will take these words from Tennyson and use them to cover their bleeding wounds, while the skeptic will say crassly that Tennyson must never have really lost then. Either way, the unifying factor is pain. Most, despite the camp they fall in, can admit that love is painful.
I grew up, as many others who were in dysfunctional families, where love was a confusing message. I knew my parents loved me, my sister, each other, but I also heard biting remarks, doors slamming, people walking out on the family, conflict going unresolved for weeks and weeks until everyone had an ulcer just from dealing with the uncertainty.
Mostly, I began to believe that “love” was just an excuse for bad behavior. My mom used to tell me that grandfather (who was physically abusive when my mom was a kid, and stayed verbally abusive until cancer closed his mouth for good) “loved me in his own way.”
I began to reject that notion as an adult. A person either loves you, or they don’t. And if they love you then they honor you, prioritize you, listen to your opinions, respect your individuality. They affirm your uniqueness and your beauty.
I still, though, feel sometimes like I’m living in a dream land, believing that about love. Like most, love has many scars. Whether it was from a serious relationship gone bad, abusive parents, or even just a confused family living in the wake of generations of dysfunction, we can all admit that love has proven painful.
My scars have been surfacing more and more lately, exposing lies planted deep down. My eyes have been opening to the fact that many of the poor decisions have been born of these scars and lies. Especially in the area of relationships and men I’ve chosen to date (or various other things).
But I am beginning to realize that these scars are not bad, or anything to be ashamed of, but it is what you do with the scars that matters. Do I continue to deny them, and thus make choices that lead me down destructive paths? Or do I acknowledge them, give them the care and attention they deserve, and for-goodness-sake cry a little (or a lot)?
Can I continue to hope that one day they won’t hurt so bad?
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
-after the storm, Mumford & Sons