The trouble with waiting for love is that we imagine it to be this giant jigsaw puzzle piece that will casually float along, make its way to us and somehow miraculously fit perfectly into that gaping hole in the centre of our hearts.
We wait for it, desperately, so it can come and complete us. Almost like we’re so bloody imperfect, incomplete and unfinished without that piece out of that notion of love. That kind of love, all neatly packed and tied up in a bow. Complete with the TLC, tender kisses, sweet nothings and everything in between.
Could it be that in our quest for finding that true love, we make ourselves unavailable to the everyday doses of love that actually come our way? In forms wholly different from the perfect, stereotyped version we desperately seek?
I’ve had love straight up box me in the face recently. And no it wasn’t a man. It wasn’t even the hugsband. It wasn’t even the kind of romantic love we expect when we talk of being swept off our feet or being made to feel weak in the knees. And yet, it was a kind of love that brought the fuzzies back into my heart. A flutter in my stomach. A fiery rekindling of the I’d-do-anything-for-you feeling we guard so tightly, saving it only for our parents and significant others.
Love has reached me in sudden, unexpected ways recently. In long, heart-felt emails that just hit the spot, and go right to the crux of the burden I’m trying to free myself of. Surprise whatsapp messages from friends across continents who seem to make timely book recommendations. In freaky telepathic connections that make me wonder about ESP. In kind, understanding words free of judgement and without the weight of being high handed.
On Friday night I had an utter and complete meltdown and it drove me to do something I haven’t done since my angst-ridden teenage years. Grab my keys, storm out of the house and get out for some fresh air. But mostly it was just a coming together of a lot of truth that had gathered like a dark cloud over my head. I tried hard to paint a layer of sunshine over it, but really, clouds of that kind only ever gather to make you see something you really really need to see. So when several storm warnings were not heeded, the cloud burst. Leaving me in a puddle of tears, misplaced emotions and wanting to push everything and everyone away so they didn’t have to see me that way.
It’s funny how at that exact moment is actually when the truest of true loves in your life are the only ones who stick their necks out for you. The husband let me cool off, gently asked if we should go get dinner and talk about it. But I didn’t want to. I was having a hard enough time processing it by myself, discussing it was not easy. So he let me be, as I drank my soup between snot-filled sniffles and heavy gasps of air. He sent me an email spelling out what he thought I was dealing with, and what I ought to do. And he didn’t bring it up until noon the next day, when I was willing and needed to talk it out.
I got another email, a godsend, from S. What was possibly experience talking, but somehow had just all the right things I needed to hear. That it was okay to break out of the mould I’ve somehow put myself into. The burden of the impossibly high standards I sometimes hold myself to. That it is okay to lean, and that they will always be there to hold me. That the fear and guilt I am feeling are very, very real. That every little ounce of anguish I am feeling is valid. And needs no justification no matter what my life is like on the outside.
It took half a day of conversing with S&S and VC to realise I struggling to reach within, reach deeper and dig out the answers that lie there. I am afraid to let go of the ropes that have held me up this last year. I’m afraid of slipping back. But it took VC to put it bluntly, and realistically — “improvement, takes time. The fact is that you won’t ever be back right where you started, because no matter what, you’re better today than you were a year ago.” — for me to let it go. A little.
Then, one evening I had a flashback to the conversations I had with Mommygolightly. About work and passion, about earning the bucks versus scratching a creative itch and whether there is ever a healthy balance between the two. So I sat down and wrote her a letter. Something made me want to reach out. And I’m glad I did, because as I learned later that night, I was not the only one in need of getting in touch.
My mother reads my posts on her ipad and because she probably hasn’t figured out how to comment yet, sends me emails with her thoughts on some posts that touch her. Somehow, without my even sharing exactly what was going on in my mind (because I simply couldn’t bring myself to articulate it) sent me an email saying this — “according to our spiritual thought and growth, it takes just ONE moment to realise the truth. One has the choice to ignore and go on in fear and make no changes, or open yourself up and allow change to happen ;)”
On Sunday morning I got a call from N, who called to just check in on me. I hadn’t expressly shared how I was feeling with too many people, but to have someone pick up on the vibe, take the trouble to call me and ask if I wanted to talk was more than I needed at that point, and my heart wells up with love every time I think about just how surrounded by positivity I am. If I choose to see it that way.
Many times I convince myself that when it really counts, people have an immaculate ability to abandon you. But time and again, I am being shown that people are always going to be around and willing to help, if you let them into your life enough. And that, is a two-way street. You have to take a few steps and welcome love into your life.
I guess this is the benefit of being grown up enough to choose the relationships in your life. You get to pick the ones that nourish you, fill you up with love when you’re feeling depleted, smack you when you need a good kick in the backside, tell you bluntly that it’s okay to crumble and fall, and grab a margarita and clink glasses when the going is good.
This is the upside of friendships in adulthood. You’re no longer just going with the flow and tolerating people because it’s the popular choice, or because you’re afraid of being alone, or because you just don’t know better. You’re no longer ashamed to show your weaker sides to those you want to count on. You realise that your husband, you mother, your father, are your friends too. As much as you realise that you are capable of feeling blinding, all consuming love for your friends. You’re suddenly willing to drop everything and check flight ticket fares to go be with a friend in need. As much as you’re willing to fly your sister down for some TLC.
I’ve had many of those moments of impossible to believe love, in what can be summed up as an altogether ridiculous and shitty month. And I am eternally grateful.
You realise that friendship is about counting on the moments of love that catch you by surprise. And if you’re lucky, and you open yourself up to it wide enough, those moments come in abundance. Sweeping you off your feet when you need an upper. Crushing you in body-smashing virtual hugs. A dense dose of sense, when you need it the most. And unending love, scattered in moments that you will stumble upon unexpectedly.
Allowing love to creep up on you in the ways it wants to, rather than waiting for it to land up in a form you’ve pre-empted, is to allow serendipity to enter your life. It is to allow lessons in empathy, optimism, and a web of warmth to cocoon you so you never really fall. Merely stumble, before you bounce back again.