What is love?

Tonight I started talking with a dear friend about love and my brain started to get into gear. I don’t always think about what is behind the many emotions I feel, love being one of them. I have lived my life with an open heart and that hasn’t always been met with appreciation. I feel first, think second… Usually my brain comes into play way after my heart has gotten involved… Then there has been times that I have ignored my brain and followed my heart, and that has lead me a stray.

I think the biggest thing I have learned about love and loss, is that you got to take the risk to get the reward.

So what is love?

My first thought was you can’t define love. It is just a force that just is. Like of like the universe. There is so much we can’t even see or feel. Love goes on and on…

I will be the first to admit that I have become very guarded with my heart these days. Some probably would call it being jaded. I try to put a more positive spin on it! ūüôā When I was young, like I am so old now, I was very¬†naive¬†about the world. When I graduated High School I had envisioned my life being a certain way. I am sure that is common. I never realized that with love came risk and with risk along came hurt and pain.

I had always known that I wanted to spend my life with one person, even before I realized I was gay. Well that certainly hasn’t worked out the way I expected. My first relationship was a love at first sight thing, well it might have been more of a lust thing but I was young. There was a huge spark between us, so much that when we first saw each other we both jumped. Well I mostly startled him while he was working as a night auditor at the hotel he worked at. He had his backed turned to me when I said hello. There was an instant spark and an instant boyfriend…

I feel for him quickly and deeply. Well two months later he dumped me in the most horrible way by telling me that he was never in love with me, nor was he attracted to me… and he had felt that from very early on. He also stated that he had been wanting to break up with me for weeks.

Honestly I thought this love was going to last forever. I believed in forever. After that night everything changed after my wings were clipped and I feel from the sky, crashing and burning… I had never been so¬†devastated¬†in my life. There was a hole in my chest and it ached deeply.

My views on true love were deeply impacted. Jump to fifteen years later I have come to realize as wonderful love at first sight feels it isn’t always meant to be, nor is the kind of love I want. True love like that is fine and dandy if both parties are okay with it but I have found that usually isn’t the case for me. Now I see true love like that for the movies, like a fairy tail. I know it exists but it sees too unreal and unobtainable.

I have learned that when you rush into love, that you don’t always get to see the whole picture and often times you miss out¬†crucial¬†pieces that could end up hurting you. Plus it is easy to mix lust and love together. When you rush there is a much higher level of risk. I no longer can take that big of a risk.

I am finally at a place in love when I want to take my time and experience all love has to offer. When you rush not only do miss red flags but you miss out the important beginning stages of love. Like the butterfly moments. The not knowings, as tough as they can be at times have their own wonderfulness as well.

The love I want and need is the love that grows over time. Love is very much like a tree, starting out in the purest form of a seed. With the right amount of rain, sunshine and weeding your love will only blossom in time. If you give it too much of one thing it will surely stunt the growth, or even kill it.

With love comes many different layers and types.

There is the general love of mankind. The way we think about the world around us. A sense of care towards those around us.

Then there is love you have for a child, in my case my two nieces and nephew. Prior to them being before I thought I knew what love was but I had only scratched upon the surface of what love was all about. I couldn’t imagine a world with out these three angels. For some 26 years I lived on this earth with out knowing that there were three little souls out there that would change my life forever. Love to a child is pure. They don’t know hate. They come to you with open arms. They are the true definition of unconditional love, well until they start to hit the teenager years then they aren’t as open with that love. ūüôā

I think about that time and I didn’t have a clue of what love really was. The birth of my niece Paige in 2002 opened my world to something so pure and wonderful. I got just as much from them, if not more, than the love they got from me. During some of my darkest days they were my lighthouses beaconing me to shore from a very dark and dangerous sea.

After the death of my beautiful Mother I realized the depth of my love for her. There is something so pure about the love between a Mother and her child. It is a bond that no one can break, not even death. While the past three months have been very torturous I still feel my Mama’s love.

There is the love between two siblings. A sense of protection comes from that love. This kind of relationship is another bond that is unbreakable. A special connection between two souls that go through similar situations forever bonded together. I can remember from an early age feeling the need to always protect my sister, no matter what. I still find myself doing that. She will always be my baby sister.

My Mom, Sister and I were the three musketeers. During the tough times we formed this close bond out of protection, it is what kept us safe and sane. We didn’t have much but we had each other. That is love. As adults we may have traveled on our own journeys but that bond will always be there.

There is the kind of love where you imprint on the person. This can be both platonic and romantic. This an ultra special connection between souls. A depth that¬†surpasses¬†anything this world has to offer. Certain people I have felt from the start like I have known them before, like we have met in another lifetime. Though I don’t quite know what I¬†believe¬†in when it comes to all of that???

One thing that we talked about tonight was a level of love where you would go to the ends of the earth for… His response that he didn’t get statements like that because the earth is round… and I go, well that is the point. For someone I deeply loved I would go around and around and around and around and around the earth if it meant keeping the person I love safe. I would keep running around in circles forever if it meant my loved one was okay.

It is this idea that you would do anything to protect the person or persons you love, even if it meant you dying in the process. Where you put someone else’s life before your own.

I felt that way when I learned that my Mama was diagnosed with Cancer. My sister and I were willing to do whatever it took to take care of our Mother. Even if it meant driving all over the country to do so. I would have gone to Sweden if it meant healing her. Granted we didn’t get the results we had hoped for but she was cured of Cancer. It didn’t bring her down.

I have found this kind of love can be rather intimidating and down right scary to some people, especially if they have never really experienced it. The few guys I tried to offer that kind of love to felt they weren’t worthy of that level of love and ran far away from it. At the time I took it personal, like it was a reflection of who I was inside. I now realize it really had nothing to do with me.

Like I said before with love comes risk. Even the ones who love you are going to hurt you. We as humans are not perfect. We say things we don’t mean, we do things that we regret later and sometimes we push the ones we love because we know we can. Of all the hurt and pain I have endured from loving others, my Mama and Sister have always been there for me. That is what family is for. That is love, being able to look past the hurt and being there for the person you love.

I have also learned that sometimes you have to love certain people from afar, even family members. I have had to do this with my father. I would love to have a relationship with him but it would always be on his terms and there is too much risk for getting hurt for me to attempt to salvage a relationship with him. Some people are just too toxic, all they do is such the¬†life-force¬†out of you. I don’t believe in that whole¬†philosophy¬†of they are your parent and you have to respect them. You can respect them for giving you life but that is it. Respect is earned and it doesn’t mean you have to keep hurtful negative people in your life.

One thing I have learned about love is that we might not can chose the families we are born into but we can chose the families we grow into. Sometimes you have to love and respect yourself enough to know that you deserve better. Family isn’t always biological, it is what you make it. I haven’t always gotten the acceptance and love from parts of my extended biological family that I needed but have come to realize that I can get that from others. When I lived in Chicago in 2004 I learned this first hand. During my time in this wonderful city I meant so many caring people who saw me for who I was, many in which I am still friends with. These are bonds that even though we don’t always talk that when we do talk it is like we have been talking all these years.

My years in Chicago were two of the best and worst years of my life. It meant coming to terms with the sexual and spiritual abuse. I¬†embodied¬†what I talked about in a previous post about¬†vulnerability, that it can be the birthplace of both negative and bad. Opening up my closet and letting other’s skeletons out meant being hospitalized a few times.

During difficult times it is natural to connect with others who are going through similar feelings, emotions and pain. I was blessed to be in a city that had a gay mental health ward to their mental hospital. As frightening of a time that was being there and all the feelings that surfaced, I am forever changed for the souls I met during the three weeks there. I will always remember the special bond we all shared, as well as the struggles as well.

A part of love comes loss. Another thing I have learned about life is that not everyone we encounter is meant to walk the same path forever. Sometimes we are only meant to cross paths briefly, like ships in the night. Early on I became very disenchanted by this, especially if the bond the great. I finally was able to realize that we each have our own journey, to keep someone on your path only takes away from theirs. Sometimes you just have to let someone go and hope that one day you will see each other again.

My therapist during my time in Chicago was one example. I saw my therapist for about a year and a half. I strongly feel that she was brought into my life. It was apart of the plan. I can remember going to meet her not for individual therapy but because she ran a men’s group for sexual abuse survivors. Instantly upon meeting her I knew that it was meant for me to see her for therapy. I didn’t end up joining the men’s group until six months later.

She showed me so much love and¬†kindness¬†during a time where I struggled the most. I not only saw her as my therapist but as a mentor. She opened my eyes and my heart in regards to my spirituality, my heart and so much more…

I got scared I ran from her, all my friends, my great job and the wonderful life I had built. All because I didn’t think I deserved all of the wonderfulness and happiness. I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was self destructing. Granted my leaving her was of my own doing, I have felt so much regret in leaving that bond we shared.

Thankfully it was meant for our paths to cross again. About four years ago her and her family moved to a city about an hour away from where my sister lives. At the time I lived in Ohio and I found it ironic that she would move to an area that I grew up in. I had dreamed of being able to rekindle the bond that we once had shared, though I never thought it would be over the death of my beautiful Mother.

Again I am deeply blessed and grateful that God has brought her back into my life. She has brought so much comfort and help during a great time of need. She has reminded me that we are worthy of second chances.

The one thing that I have learned about the death of my Mom… (I try to not say lost or lose because I am trying to retrain my way of thinking) Is that when a person dies that they truly never leave us, especially if that bond is deep and strong. They are always with us, even after death. Both inside our hearts and spiritually all around us. The same can be said for those who go their¬†separate¬†ways not by any wrong doing but by individuals going on different paths. Regardless where they travel and the new paths they take they will always remain deep within our paths. Realizing that we don’t need the person to hold our hand for them to be right beside us is a huge gift.

I am trying to remember this with my beautiful Mama, just is tough. I still want to be able to hold her hand again.

I think true love is when another soul is able to look past all your baggage, skin, pain, thoughts and emotions, and into your heart. They see you for who you are, not for who the world might see you as. Sometimes they see more in you, that you see in yourself. That is love. That is unconditional. In the world we live in this is rare. When you find someone who is able to do this hold them closely in your heart. They are truly a gift, a blessing from up above.

It is so easy to get all your connectors filled full of junk. Sometimes it your own junk, while other times it is other peoples trash. If you don’t learn to pick up the trash you can very easy turn into a¬†gigantic¬†landfill. What once was a endless beautiful nature preserve is now a place for piles and piles of endless trash. The world is filled full of jagged edges that if you aren’t careful will cut you open, leaving you exposed. Often it is an event that happens at an early age. Many times we can’t help but get hurt. It is the whole bad things happen to good people scenario. I don’t understand why it happens, it just does. Like why do children get sick and die? Make no sense to me.

If you are someone who is heart centered it is very easy to have the love you possess change. Even after years after you have been cut, you walk around life with this giant wound. You learn that you aren’t worthy of the same love you give to others. You begin to give love to everyone but yourself. It starts out small and snowballs out of control. Usually it isn’t until you are in desperate search for your nature preserve and all you can see trash. You dig and remove the trash but you never seem to find the bottom. Plus people keep throwing their trash at you because you have made it clear that you are just one big ole trash can.

I have always been great at dispensing the medicine but often find it difficult to take my own advice. I have found in order to heal I must look deep within to feel and eventually see all the beauty I have inside. Plus I need to pick apart my landfill to see what baggage was mine and the trash that belongs to others. Learning to not personalize things instantly disintegrated a lot of the trash pilled upon me. After all of that I still had a lot of my own trash to sift through and throw away. Healing is another process that has a lot of layers and depths. Healing is just like a onion, you have to peel away the layers and eventually you will get to the core.

While I still have some more layers to work through I am closer than ever to my core. Now comes the real work and progress. Loving yourself I think is the one of the most parts to love. If you don’t take care of yourself eventually it will catch up to you and you will no longer before to care for anyone else. This happened to me. My friend said that maybe that was the only true love… loving yourself and I think he is on to something.

I will admit I struggle with loving myself, it is a daily battle. My depression certainly hinders me with everything. If you have lived most of your life not loving yourself it has a way of affecting everything from your health, how you interact with other people and the choices you make. Through the years of hurt I have become very much like a hermit, so afraid to get hurt that I have hid from the world. My solitude became my prison. I was miserable and very unhappy. Just like in the movie The Village no amount of protection from the outside world can prevent hurt from happening. It will always find a way in. As in the case of the death of my mother. In the end, my protection ended up doing the opposite and kept me from everything good and deserved.

Hurt is inevitable. As is death.¬†“A¬†Life¬†Lived in¬†Fear is a Life HalfLived

Love changes everything. It imprints us, planting millions of seeds deep within us. As they blossom and we grow, we are able to share that love with others. When someone has a deep impact on us we change for the good. I am who I am today because of my Mama and the love she gave me. I wouldn’t be the same person today without her.

As much as I am frightened in getting hurt again romantically I know that I must put myself out there in order to grow. The key for me is loving myself enough to protect myself. Allow myself to enjoy the moment and not rush the¬†experience. As with healing this works for love as well… As my therapist says, you can’t attach a¬†cocoon¬†to a stick and whip it around,¬†expecting¬†the butterfly to come flying out… All that will do will harm the life growing inside the cocoon. Again it is not allowing the vulnerability of the moment to swallow you whole,¬†remembering¬†that it is that fearful place where happiness, joy and love blossoms from.

Having fears is natural. Keeping them bottled up is not. Nor is allowing that fear control you. Talking about it is key for me. When you face your fears you take away their power. Learning to build up your toolbox with coping skills is also very important. As well a not listening to the negative voices in your head and replacing them with positive messages of love, encouragement and acceptance.

Love is universal. Love is eternal. Love has no barrier or walls.

We are all worthy and deserving of love. You don’t have to believe in God to know what love is because love is universal. While two people who speak different languages might not can understand the word love, no words are needed when a hug or an act of love will do. While we might¬†argue¬†and disagree with each others religious and spiritual beliefs the one thing that remains constant is love. For me that is truly what God is, love…

Love many different things to many different people. It is a parent taking care of their child when they are sick. It is a man buying a homeless man a pair of boots in the winter. Love is pitching in and helping out your neighbor in a time of need. Love means calling making sure someone got home safe after a long trip. You don’t have to know a person to love them, nor do you need to say a word. Though hearing I love you is three of the most enjoyable and meaningful words ever spoken.

Love is defending the person you care about and standing by their side through the good times and the bad. Love is saying I’m sorry when you know you have done something wrong or hurtful. Love is giving enough to others but always making sure you have something left for yourself. Love is in the giggle of a child. Love is the thought that counts, the effort behind the act and not the act itself.

Love is not proud, nor is it selfish. Love is free, flowing like a river touching everything in its path.

This world we live in certainly could use a whole lot more love. It is how we treat each other. Words can sting and words can hurt. Bones can break and eventually heal but words are silent killers getting deep underneath the skin. Their wounds are silent and unseen. They linger like a disease slowly infecting everything…

But we all can make a difference. A smile is can do a world of good. Life is so short before we know it’s over. In this fast paced world it is so easy to take¬†for-granted¬†the love and relationships we share. Reach out to others, they might not have the strength to ask for help. Say to others what you feel, you will regret it when they are gone. For being only three words saying I love you isn’t always as easy as it should be.

Tell people in your life that you love them, often. Hugg them frequently. Make an effort to see the people you love especially if you haven’t seen them in a while, even if you don’t feel like it because you will regret it when they are gone. Forgive yourself, life isn’t¬†perfect¬†but love is.

Be gentle to yourself. Do nice things for yourself. Take a bubble bath. Go for a walk. Watch your favorite funny feel good movie. Laugh. Cry. Be silly. Go out into the rain without an umbrella and dance in all the mud puddles. Embrace your inner child be kind to him and her. Buy a helium balloon and suck in the air. Dance in your living room, dance in public. Dance like you don’t care.

Let go of what others think of you. Go to see a movie by yourself. Do what you love, even if people think you are crazy. Make funny faces in the mirror. Talk to yourself, who cares if strangers think you are crazy. If you could see into their worlds you could see how crazy they really are! ūüôā When traveling long distances make an effort to enjoy the ride, stop and have lunch at the local restaurant. Not only will you have a good home cooked meal but you will have a memory that will last a lifetime.

Plant a garden, even if you don’t like veggies. Sleep in. Post funny pictures to your facebook ¬†because you never know whose day you might brighten up. My Mom use to love looking at the funny pictures that were posted to her wall. Volunteer in a children’s hospital. You will not only learn how¬†resilient¬†children are but you will realize your problems aren’t as bad. Write a hand written letter to an old friend or even a new friend. Buy lunch for someone homeless.

Dress up for¬†Halloween. Bring a friend some soup when they are sick or even¬†NyQuil. Everyone loves NyQuil right? ūüôā Rather than buying a gift for someone take the money and make them something. Glitter goes with everything. Using the excuse that you aren’t creative or crafty isn’t valid because that doesn’t stop a child, nor should it you! ūüôā

Wake up early and cook a big breakfast for everyone in your family. During the various seasons and holidays you can cut out designs using cookie cutters to make special pancakes. I learned the hard way to cook the pancake first then cut out the design. Learn from my mistake. ūüôā

Get on the ground with the children in your life. Let them climb over you like a jungle gym. Let them dress you up, put make up on you and brush your hair. Build a fort out of blankets and chairs. Put on a puppet show. Go outside with them. Push them on the swing set. Take them to the park. Make a¬†gigantic¬†wave storm in the pool with them. Take them to the beach and go into the water with them, even if it is cold! ūüôā Dance with them. Hugg them often. Tell them they are beautiful often. Make funny faces with them. Let them help you bake. My niece love to stir and pour in the¬†ingredients. Cherish every moment you have with them because they grow up very fast.

Go for your dreams. If you have lost them, go searching for them again. Put out a search party if you have to. They are important and are of value to you. A life without dreams makes for a very dreary unhappy place. Keep reaching for them. Never give up. Follow your heart. Trust your instincts.

Keep moving forward. It is never too late. If you get knocked down, get back up. There is never a point in your life where you can’t try again, and start a new. Just because you have passed up opportunity it doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there waiting for you. You are worthy.

These are all reminders to myself as well…

Love doesn’t end when a person dies, it goes on and on. Death will never be able to touch true love. Love is pure light and stronger than anything seen and unseen there ever was and is…

With love anything is possible. I am possible because the people who love me.

Love will always overcome and conquer hate and fear. They don’t stand a chance because you can’t hide in the light.

Love is pure. Love is all around us.

I am who I am today because of love. It is who I am through and through.

My Mama gave me her heart, in order for me to give it to the world and that is what I will continue to do…

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