Love is not a feeling

If God choose to love us despite knowing our deepest, darkest secrets…

In a few of my previous entries I have mentioned that my parents’ marriage wasn’t a love match. I didn’t lie in so much as I don’t actually know why my parents got married and stayed together for 21 years of their lives to begin with. They are divorced now and throughout their marriage and now divorce, I have received lots of little versions of what brought them together. I don’t ask, I don’t need to know. I saw the affect of their choices and decisions and have made my own choice not to understand how people come to the results my parents come to.

My own experience with romance is limited. My relationships thus far have not been ones that I have looked for. When I was younger I was easily persuaded by friends to give a boy a chance because they were “nice” boys, but I hadn’t been interested in boys. I had liked my solitude too much for as long as I can remember. My mother despaired at her antisocial child. If you know me now, you’d think I was lying. I’m a total social butterfly. I still love to spend time alone more often than not.

But I digress. So in my early teenage years I dated boys for one or two weeks because I was talked into it by friends but I really wasn’t interested and I didn’t see the point of doing it so I’d break it off, knowing that I wasn’t going to change my mind about wanting to date in the first place. There were maybe three lads I dated overall and I really don’t count them as anything more than passing moments.

On my last year of High School, a friend started using my phone to communicate with her boyfriend (her mother was very strict, so the girl didn’t have a phone of her own). This boy and I got chatting a few times and ended having a weird sort of affair. Not sexual in anyway, but at 16 years of age, I was still easily swayed to follow my “feelings”. So despite the discomfort, having someone to speak to that didn’t have any expectations was nice. I broke her heart. We can assume that she could live without a high school romance but broken trust between friends is never good. I don’t know what I’d been thinking, I couldn’t even stand the boyfriend.

My first long term relationship only happened in college and all because a friend dared me to accept the next guy whom came along and ask me out – and I was not to break up with him. She didn’t say anything about him breaking up with me, however, so the next 7 months were filled with okay moments and tantrums thrown to encourage our relationship to end. He was really good and a little besotted so he never batted an eye. It wasn’t until the end of that scholarly year that my fear of my mother overcame the need to continue the relationship, dare or no dare.

I don’t know if my mother would have let me continue the relationship. She knew I had a boyfriend. In my mind however, I knew two months of summer breaks was coming up and he would want to spend as much of that time together. Time that I wouldn’t be able to give due to my mother’s strict ways. So I broke things off in the worst way possible.

I wanted to speak to him privately but my choice of friends hasn’t always been fantastic, mostly because I myself end up acting like a complete idiot. He was surrounded by his friends when I went to speak to him after college (in a packed train station) and he seemed to know what was coming because he wouldn’t look at me. I called him out but he just moved further and further away, indicating via hand signals that he would call me later. I panicked, not wanting to break up over the phone and shouted that he couldn’t call me when all I wanted to do was break up. My friend burst into hysterical giggles and started screaming that I was going to break things off and that set me off to horrified giggles and feelings of both shame and hysteria bubbled up in my chest at how wrong the whole thing was going. I wasn’t a malicious person and yet here I was, humiliating him in front of his friends and complete strangers and all anyone could see was stupid little girls giggling. I was very glad two months of summer were coming up.

My next relationship attempt wasn’t actually even an attempt. I was now in Uni, horrified with my dating experience so far. I was starting to believe that I was just not made for relationships. I met a guy whom seemed to like me but as I wasn’t interested I didn’t give it a single thought. We spent a lot of time together and shared a lot of things in common. For one, our love of dancing. I grew interested in his childhood friend (whom would visit him at Uni once in a while) from fairly early on but he’d been in a relationship so I didn’t encourage myself in any such fantasies. Later the relationship ended and he too showed some interested but after a few tentative moments, he back-peddled and told me our mutual friend was interested in me so he wasn’t going to pursue anything with me. I was both angry and heartbroken. To me, it was starting to look like everyone else was getting a say on my relationship status but me.

At the end of that year this Uni friend and I agreed to meet for drinks and whilst I waited, a complete stranger started chatting me up. He was French and very sweet. Completely not my type but I’d thought I’d humour him whilst I waited. My friend arrived and the French gent wasn’t letting go. My friend snapped and we left the bar only for me to get trapped between this guy and a wall where he unleashed his fury and feelings. In essence, because he believed himself in love with me, I had to feel the same way. I didn’t and I wasn’t going to lie. I lost several friendships out of that.

My next relationship was a long distance one that I threw myself wholeheartedly into for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be a girlfriend and eventually, potentially a wife – not a mistress, like I was starting to believe. Being a long distance relationship, I didn’t take into account how much easier it was to pretend to be in a good place. He had been cheating on me so that was the end of that.

Then came along my last relationship and I hadn’t wanted to get involved with anyone at the time. I was done trying to understand the dynamics of romance and tired of feelings like everyone had an input on my romantic life but me. But he pursued me and wooed me with a gentle patience that won me over and when I watched him with his family I began to crave what he was inadvertently showing me.

I haven’t had a lot of good examples of what a working, loving and Godly relationship should be. This relationship helped me open my eyes and pushed me to start looking for such examples in my spheres of influence and learn to be better as a person. I do have to admit that although subconsciously I may have realised where it was that I wanted to be heading, my behaviour was poor. I reverted back to old habits of tantrums and silence and I made decisions that didn’t help us at all.

It does take two to Tango and I know the failure of this relationship wasn’t just one person at fault. It was however, evident that neither one of us was in the same page and harmony is never easy to reach when there is no common ground to be gained. My crippling fear of past experiences made it very difficult for me to trust that his lack of attention in our relationship was just a natural boy reaction to being comfortable, not an actual lack of interest.

Love is about choice but it is the mutual choices made every day by those people involved that will help love grow and flourish, or wither and die.

I have the choice now to live in my past and bemoan how difficult and unprepared I can feel because of the lack of proper guidance and role models or I can choice to grow from what I have experienced thus far and flip it on its head. The negative can be turned to positive and what we don’t know we can learn. It isn’t too late to make something better.

Feelings are important but not vital. Feelings, the way I understand them are markers in our state of being that help us navigate life but they change from person to person and they are not foolproof. One person’s feelings or fear or pain or happiness are not the same as another’s. What brings you humour and makes you smile may not necessary have the same effect on me.

Feelings are important also because they let you know when something is wrong: pain, hurt, discomfort, fear – those are all indications that we may be in danger of some form or another but feelings are kaleidoscopic. Feelings are fleeting and when they pass, we need to make choices outside of those temporary feelings that may linger for a little while but have actually gone and left us in situations that go beyond that moment.

Using a loose example, if you watch a horror movie you may have some really strong reactions of fear. It could affect your sleep, your thoughts, your reactions but it was still just a movie and it won’t actually happen to you in real life. A choice you can make is accept it has happened, acknowledge that it is a high improbability of coming to real life and perhaps not watch another horror movie again if you know you’re easy affected negatively by it.

When we love and specially when we’re in a romantic relationship, it won’t be sunshine and flowers the whole time. Falling in love doesn’t mean you stop living in the real world. Life still happens. The choices we make once those lovely feelings disappear in the face of financial crisis, work headaches, bad habits, new responsibilities and life in general are the choices we need to focus on. Not the feelings.

 

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