What is Love, Really? (How My Youthful Ideas May Have Impacted My Perception of Reality) Part II

(Continued from last week)


I was “in love” with a gorgeous boy in high school. His name was Bob. He looked just like Robert Conrad on The Wild Wild West. He really did. But our family moved to another state just when I was starting to think about boys like that.

I didn’t really date in high school, but when I graduated and started working, I met a handsome boy. I liked him a lot, but I can’t say now if I truly loved him.

I ended up marrying him and we had a child together, but as the months went by, he became more and more abusive until it got to the point where I was afraid for my life and that of our son, so I divorced him. My life at that time, was a nightmare.

Looking back, I can’t say that I felt love for him because the bad memories far outweigh whatever good ones there might have been.

A few years later, I met my current husband. He made me laugh. He was kind to me and we had fun together—went places, did things. I would say that I was in love with him, but this time it was perhaps more of an adult form of love, with some protective barriers put in place. I was apprehensive about getting married again after what happened to me the first time, but we eventually tied the knot.

Life became a whirlwind of raising kids and all that family life entails. I loved every minute of it. I loved being a mom. Those were the happiest years of my life.

But something happened to the love between my husband and me. It got lost in the raising of kids and in the paying of the mortgage.

I love my husband, and I know he loves me, but now that the kids have grown up and moved out, sunset couple kissingand after reading all that recent hoopla about David Cassidy, I found myself asking myself, What is love, really? Did my innocent devotion to the likes of David Cassidy and Bob, that boy in high school, stymie my chances of ever finding those kinds of feelings within myself, that, to me, were proof of real love? I’m sure that I had those kinds of feelings–fireworks and all–when my current husband and I got married, but was it to the same degree that my childish notions told me they should be?

Because there are so very many different types of love besides the romantic kind, like the love I feel for my friends and my family, and even my pets.

My love for my husband has morphed over many years of having to compromise and get along with someone even when you don’t agree with them. It comes from growing together, then apart, then together again. It comes from being able to finally see the sacrifices that person made for you, for the family you share. That is love. But it isn’t the flowery, floaty, frothy, fiery kind of love or lust, that first made you turn your head in their direction… and wonder… what if?

Does that fiery kind of love really happen to real people or is it just in the movies? Is it possible that the protective barrier I devised could now be hindering my ability to see beyond it?

And why do I love movies like “The Bodyguard,” “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” and “Message in a Bottle” where the lovers can never really be together? Those stories that are bittersweet and heartbreaking. Maybe because that’s what my definition of love has shifted to after all the life experiences I’ve had: real love is supposed to be bittersweet and leave you alone in the end—forever longing for those feelings you once shared with someone or for someone, even if for a very short time. (Like my feelings of aloneness after the passing of both of my parents.) Even if you are still married to that person and those types of feelings have gotten lost in the shuffle of life and you forever long for their return.

And what about attractions to people that we can’t or shouldn’t be with? For instance, in my case, David Cassidy and my first husband. Why are we attracted to people like that? Is that really love? Misguided love? Or, in my case, was it my childish fantasies that left me feeling so smitten I could hardly function and therefore ended up cheating myself out of life because I was so enrapt with that one person, ad nauseum? In “The Road Less Traveled,” author M. Scott Peck said that sexual attraction is nature’s trick to get us to spread our seeds as much as possible—survival of the species. Could be, I guess, but that can’t be all there is to it.

girl-lying on her back dreamingI don’t know where I fit in any of this. I keep waiting for that pie-in-the-sky sort of all-consuming, soul-baring kind of love with my husband, but I also know that he does the best he can. We both do. It’s my own fault if I fell into a trap of complacency, of mostly just survival with a few fun things thrown in. Or maybe I just need to change my focus and concentrate on all the blessings I have–and the man (my husband), who loves me in his own way of loving. At the same time, maybe that’s why I have an insatiable need to write. I can create fictional characters to fulfill my ideas of what love is or isn’t. But … in the long run, is it ever really enough?