“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.
Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love.” — Osho
Love, the word we use too much of, and too little of.
I fell in love for the very first time, at the young tender age of 15. It came to me wild and unexpected, at that age you would assume it was nothing more than puppy love, but almost two decades later I still think about it fondly as a relationship I wholly gave my heart to.
Our days were filled with prolonged moments without words, fueled by the knowing we loved and were loved. I held on too tightly to her, while I believed wanting and needing to be with her every single moment was the evidence I truly loved. I practically crumbled when she left, was I not enough?
I spent the next five years with tears which seemingly didn’t stop, desperately looking for a replacement of a person who would sit in expressive, romantic silence with me.
I lived for love. That sort of love. The giddy, heart-pounding anticipation that comes with sleepless nights and strings of sighs. I looked for that person who would be special to me and would love being special for me. Life was defined by whether I could be needed and if I had someone to share everything with. I needed to feel needed, as though that was the only way to prove my existence. I looked forward to my next romance even before the one I was in reached its shelf life.
The pain I had inflicted was equal to the pain I suffered.
Till there came a person whom I fell in love at first sight:
Did her apocrine glands give off the requisite pheromones to suit my olfactory system? Did my brain submerge itself in phenylethylamine? Or did I look into her eyes and see her soul? And in the end, does it matter? What is important is that something happened, everything happened.
– Ol Parker, Imagine me and you
I was determined to hold on to my identity as the hopeless romantic, believing that this relationship was the one I was destined to be in, for the rest of my life. I still remember vividly the moment I had saw her, it became a joke later on that I thought I had seen the room light up when she arrived. The eventual outcome of that relationship did not change the quality of that first moment, at that point of time it was true, as part of my memories it still remains true.
I loved her, perhaps too much — if love was defined as wanting to be everything one could possibly give to another. I thought loving her meant doing everything in my capacity to make her happy.
We spent more than half a decade together, with the shared assumption that we were everything we needed. We believed in this so much, that when the end was near we both couldn’t see it coming till it silently fleeted past us. We were still together, even after the end. That was how much we loved each other.
But the song goes, sometimes love just ain’t enough.
Out of the many things I anticipated that would be points of failure for us, I didn’t anticipate the meaning of love to evolve for me.
The idea of needing and being needed became old to me, as I finally understood what it truly means to love and be loved. Mutual sacrifice is overrated, and mutual empowerment is underrated. They both seem like the same vehicle, only with radically different engines under the hood.
I thought I was loving her by giving her every inch of me, only to realize much later that there wasn’t much of me to give. Semi-subconsciously I had deemed myself unworthy to of love and that was why I needed to do so much for someone else to prove that I was. I wasn’t giving because I had a lot to give, I was scraping together things to give because that was the only way I believed I deserved to be loved.
I didn’t know I was dying inside a little the more I tried to give. The lack of self-love was killing me bit by bit and I tried to counter-act it by giving even more. It was like trying to grow flowers on dry soil without knowing it is slowly turning into a desert.
It was as brutal for me as it was for her. If you ever had to let go of an old self you would know what I am trying to write in these words. Growth can be a joy, but people don’t talk about the sheer pain of having to decapitate yourself first, and having to break the heart of someone you truly believed you would spend the rest of your life with.
How do you tell yourself that the identity for your entire existence is becoming a lie?
The old cliché goes, to love is to set it free. I broke her heart, believing with every inch of my soul that it was the most generous display of my love I could ever muster. She gently let me break hers, believing that was the best return for everything I had sought to give.
Sometimes, love just ain’t enough.
I am now in a relationship with my self. I bring her out on intricately arranged dates, buy her little gifts without needing a reason, try to make her understand that she is loved without needing external validation from another human being.
This relationship is fraught with the usual difficulties typical of any relationship as I seek to understand the dynamics and disconnect between how I think it should be and how it stands currently.
But love, is equally precious when directed internally. The idea that you don’t need someone else to tell yourself that you are valued and approved of, is tremendously empowering.
Love in its greatest essence for me, does not need to exist in a romance between two people. I used to think it was amazing if I could walk through fire and scale mountains for one person.
I am no longer content with that idea. Because that person who was once in love with the idea of love between two people, wants to be in love with the world instead.
And perhaps one day, I’ll believe in the idea of romance and run the awful risk of having to break someone’s heart again, if I could find someone who wants to romance the world, along with me.