It’s strange how a beautiful thing can incite so many conflicting feelings

There is no denying that the magic of falling in love is unparalleled. That is precisely why it’s described as ‘falling’, a sensation that is almost impossible to capture perfectly in words. I had tried writing about it many a time, failing at any attempt to paint the wonderful feeling in my tummy, the weightlessness and breathlessness as if in mid-air, the curious warmth I often felt in my cheeks, my bosom and my womanhood, the never-ending yet quickly ending long and deep conversations, the rush of sharing my soul with him and always yearning to spend more time together, the thrill of exploring new things that made my entire self resonate in satisfaction, the increasing speed at which everything intensified and the ease of it all…

“Can I hold your hand?”

It began with something so simple.

And from that moment transpired a series of events that changed our lives.

One just has to read any of those hackneyed listicles on love and relationships to divine how mere attraction grows to become a deeper form of affection and care for another. I don’t wish to linger here because this will come to an end real soon.

That’s why a lot of romantic films stop right at this point. Few step out of this territory and divulge what happens after. I mean, what could two to three hours of screen time possibly capture?

What then, after that?

That magic of falling in love quickly fades like an ebbing tide when you hit the concrete floor. Suddenly but surely, love alone doesn’t seem enough to sustain the magic. Because love was borne out of that magic, not the other way round.

Casual bickering gradually turns into sporadic quarrels that used to be kept at bay solely by the power of the magic. As seeds of doubt take root in obscure recesses of your heart, you trust in the relationship less and less each day. Physical intimacy and replaying special memories may serve as temporary bridges to the enlarging chasm between you two. Both of you can deny ideas such as incompatibility and try to stamp them out of existence, but like a persistent virus, they keep reappearing out of nowhere. The discrete rows worsen to become a series of terrible arguments, each worse than the one before, and each made worse than the one before. That sinking feeling that this wouldn’t work weighs you down, growing insidiously until it’s too large to bear. It had to be addressed. Something needs to change.

When it comes to the point where separation from each other is what we each needed, we try to be strong but we’re broken inside. We cheat ourselves, telling our hearts that in time everything will heal, but how can such a gaping hole in our souls be mended? Other things in life, meaningful and beautiful, begin to fill up the hole but it is never what it was, or what it could have been.

It’s funny how hole and whole sounds exactly the same. Perhaps one needs to experience the hole to feel whole. As we try to get on with our lives and try to ignore the hole, we begin to appreciate the little things that give us meaning and happiness. You are not the person that you were before you fell in love. That love might have ended badly and hurt you beyond repair, but because of that love you perceive everything with new eyes. Including yourself.

You become aware of who you are and gain a better understanding of what your purpose in this world is. And you know what? Your heart figures out you don’t want to be alone in this beautiful, messy world. In order to do that, you need to submit to love.

Huh?

It’s been tried and tested, and it didn’t succeed, did it?

The reason, you dummy, is because you never really loved. What you felt was merely a shadow, or a pathetic imitation of love actually is. With walls up so high in you heart, it was you and only you that you cared about. Every action was motivated by self preservation. True, it felt like you loved one another but as soon as the magic dissolved, so did the strength of your bond. Though both of you tried and tried again, every attempt of recapturing the magic was futile. What good can come of barging headfirst onto walls?

As if our minds were tenuously connected to each other all this while, when you made the initiative to speak to me again, it felt home. It felt like we were finally on the same page. It felt like in our lonely journeys we somehow ended up finding each other again.

We had to lose each other in order to understand the taste of things recovered is the sweetest nectar we will ever know.

Self-awareness and realisation doesn’t mean the walls aren’t easily eradicated, of course. And it isn’t a marvellous happily ever after from here onward. By now, you should have realised that there is no such thing as a fairy tale. Perfect but unreal.

But when it comes to love, it only gets better from here as long as you never forget what took so much of suffering to learn. The best lessons of life are the harshest, after all.

Mirror, mirror, who’s the fairest of them all?

Learning to truly love your other half is like looking into the mirror, the only surface that reflects all your flaws as they are. Unlike the beauty enhancing selfie filters in your phone, where your features are enhanced and ugly scars concealed, your metaphoric mirror is a constant reminder of all your faults, conscious or subconscious. You get to know yourself more in the process of getting to know your partner.

That knowledge is terrible. Somehow, humans are adept at ignoring what should seem obvious in hindsight, especially if it’s a flaw of their own. And when the truth comes to light, so does self-disgust and a load of insecurities. It’s just painful that your other half, the one who admires you and loves you for whatever he admires in you, is the only person capable of pointing out the worst parts of you to you.

Is it though? Or rather, should it though? If not him, who else? You ought to feel most comfortable with him and it should be easiest hearing it from him. Aren’t you the same person to him as well? You too are the only person who can understand his darkest traits. You regularly remind yourself to stop holding onto your pride.

Love for one another is only thing that could effortlessly encompass the two extremes — clarity and confusion.

Maybe it is fear of being hated or left alone that is churning such thoughts in your mind. After a while, only through the burgeoning love that your partner never ceases to express will you begin to understand that your fear was utterly pointless.

Love is so real at this stage.

It is no longer restrained by rationality because that person doesn’t consume you like before anymore. We have already let go of our reliance on that magic. Better, both of us become an integral part of each other’s reality.

Like two threads entwined to form a string, we become one. Ironically, it leads to quarrels because both of us are ever so easily influenced by each other’s shifts in moods, bouts of frustration, ups and downs. Whatever affects you, affects your partner and vice-versa.

But that’s probably what makes love so ‘beautiful’ — the closest thing to perfection that exists in this world, and yet the farthest.

We slowly learn to be each other’s support during rough times, instead of letting it aggravate our misunderstandings like it used to previously. Stepping out of our reflex to protect our heart from hurt is a mark of our willingness to do anything for your other half for his or her betterment and happiness. Even if it drains you completely; because at this point, you rarely worry about being the only person who gives and gives. You can trust that your partner would do exactly the same for you, and that thought always brings a smile to our lips (or in my case, tears to my eyes).

Love is so real, yet it is still full of passion and excitement. Constantly, we seek to create new memories, keeping the thrill of each other’s company alive. And there’s always something about the other person that surprises you from time to time.

Why do movies hardly ever get to this part of the relationship? In my opinion, it’s the best part, because it’s the sure part, the growing part, the everlasting part.