With February here, it is easy to get caught up in the idea of love. Love comes at us from many angles. We love our intimate partners, we love our sisters, our brothers, our children, our friends, our pets, our parents, etc. Love. Love. Love.
To know me is to know that I love, love. I can find it in anything and I find it in everything. I will always choose to see the good in every situation, given enough time to process the moment. Happiness is a choice, and I find joy in love and light. I love fully or I don’t love. I don’t know half way; it is simply not a part of my DNA. Negative, skeptical, and insecure people usually find this really annoying. Too bad for them, I say. Must bite to be so miserable, I figure.
Healthy Boundaries are a Must
Love truly is beautiful and necessary to have in our lives, provided that there are healthy boundaries in place. The moment a line of respect is crossed, you quickly realize that there is a fine line between love and hate.
Regardless of the relationship, boundaries that are broken can create the perfect platform to host a painful lesson, which can and often leads to the discovery that the way we think of love is not necessarily a true representation of the reality of how love actually works.
These words bring me back to a moment I witnessed this past Christmas. It was Christmas afternoon, and I had been thinking of a loved one who had passed on. I decided to visit the cemetery. I entered into the gates and continued driving slowly to the far north end. I noticed families gathered around headstones. I saw dozens of newly left poinsettias to honor loved ones gone. It wasn’t long before I felt the blanket of heaviness that was hovering over the entire place.
Despite the heaviness, I was honored to be there and to visit my loved one. Did I shed a few tears? Did I convey how much I wished that they were still here? Of course. I brushed off the headstone, wished them a Merry Christmas, and I slowly walked back to my car saying a prayer of thanks that I was able to represent a few of us and leave a little love there on what was a beautiful winter’s day. I was there because I love this person.
As I slowly drove out of the yard on the narrow lane, I noticed a woman. She sat in a camping chair with a child not much older than two on her lap. The child was napping and she was staring off into the distance. There was a picnic blanket, toys, snacks, a thermos and several other items that conveyed to me that they had spent the morning there and that they had no plans of leaving anytime soon. I was humbled, horrified, and heart wrenchingly aware that while I had been at home with my family, cherishing our moments together, this woman had been there spending time with her late husband. She was there because she is in love.
As I continued driving past, I knew in that moment that I had just witnessed true love. I have always believed since the day I met my husband that I know what true love is.
However, in that moment I realized that I had been sweating the small stuff a little too often.
I try to keep my eye on the prize, but there are moments when I get caught up in trivial things that actually do not matter. I realized that I am able to better honor the gift of true love that I have by staying more present. I knew that woman sitting there with her baby would give anything to forget the small stuff and to be with her beloved for even one minute longer in this lifetime. Witnessing this scene made me instantly recommit to being fully aware of how and with whom I spend my time.
Weeding the Garden of Friendship
Over the past few years, I have spent a great deal of time and care purging my friendship circle, maintaining only the relationships which nourished me and made me a better me. I had decided last year to not allow anyone to treat me with less respect than I feel I deserve. I made a commitment to myself that I would let people know when their words were cutting or felt less than kind or considerate.
What I didn’t count on is that by demanding respect and calling people on their words that did not reflect the standard of friendship that I believe any healthy relationship should have, that I would be on the receiving end of a purge.
That I, in fact, would be purged.
Of course when this recently happened, I was dumbfounded, side swiped, gutted, and deeply hurt on a cellular level when one of my best friends decided that it was time to cut ties with me. At first, I was simply heartbroken. I was sad, as I had lost a family member, a sister as far as I was concerned; however, after using my inner circle as a solid sounding board who knew both sides well, I presented the facts as I knew them to be true.
After a great deal of discussion, I came to realize that perhaps I did not have what it takes to nourish this friend’s spirit. I love this person to this day as much as I ever have. I love her enough to realize that she deserves what makes her happy, and if my friendship is not enough for her, than that is just the way it is.
I also realized that sometimes, some people do not realize when they are subconsciously saying hurtful things that can only and could only ever be perceived as hurtful. That old saying ‘We know not what we say’, comes into play.
The Shelf Life of Relationships
Sometimes the love you have for a friendship has a shelf life. You can love as long as you like, but it doesn’t mean the person you are gifting that love to is always going to want to receive it. We are gifted teachers and love challenges us on a daily basis. I have learned a great deal about human nature, authenticity, illusions and love.
In some instances, with the huge the help of birthday cards/books, written words and otherwise, I had convinced myself that I have meant more to certain people than I actually ever did.
I have willingly and happily spent love and energy in a direction that was primarily one way, believing that down the road at some point, some year, that the tides would change and the flow would one day find balance.
Not everything that we believe will come to fruition actually does. This relationship, one in which I can honestly say I gave my authentic self to in a routinely selfless way, was in my opinion a forever relationship. We spoke of raising our kids together. We discussed what it was going to be like when our families retired together. We annually spent holidays together. We share a lovely group of friends from both sides who have been very supportive in a private Please don’t let on that I’ve called you. Please don’t repeat this. kind of way.
We will likely find ourselves at parties, vacation spots, etc. together, and ultimately we will continue to be in each other’s force fields whether we want to be or not. Her friends continue to contact me and my friends remain hers. Our social circles are simply designed in a way that will see this happen into the future. So… it is what it is and life goes on.
We are adults. We have social graces. It will be fine.
Life is Short
Life goes on. Life unfolds, and if witnessing that woman by her husband’s grave on Christmas Day taught me anything, it taught me that life is too short. Life is too short to hang on to what ifs and how comes.
It’s about onward and upward, the lessons under the belt and the scars to prove we were there and we lived to tell about it. If seeing that woman by her husband’s grave gave me one sacred take-away, it is the reminder that forever does not exist.
We can romanticize the notion of something (love, life, or friendship) being forever, but the truth is that tomorrow is a new day and with it comes new light which will shift the shadows that were there and cast new ones where you never dreamed there would be.
At the end of the day the only love you can count on is the love you give. For reasons that may or may not make sense, love can be given, taken, and redirected without notice.
Forever is an illusion that comforts us in a world where the only thing that stays the same is change.
While the world and retail stores insight mass anxiety over the need to be loved, find love, give love, I will quietly remember that love is truly about accepting yourself and those around you for who they are, where they are, and why they are. True love is unconditional and lame imitations need not apply. The myth about love, friendship, and forever is only cruel if you forget who you are and why we are here.