Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Does Love Mean?

You know, I never really had a good perception of what love was supposed to be. How does it look? What does it feel like? My parents divorced when I was young and I have very few memories of them actually being together. I grew up with angry parents. Rarely were there times that the two were in the same room and not arguing, until close to my graduation. What must have been love when they were younger was lost to bitterness.

Much later, my father remarried. I don't doubt the amount of love between him and my step-mother, but it really seemed like they carried on two separate lives at times. Two people who simply shared a house and passed each other on occasion in the hallway. This love was about independence, not co-dependance. It worked very well for them, I suppose. And it's likely somewhat helpful now that my father didn't change his own life to drastically, for now he is alone and didn't have to rework everything in his life to get used to doing things alone again. Her cancer took her away from us, and from him. I ache for his lost love.

My mother nearly married another man while I was younger. In fact, it was 8 years of my life that he was around. Love? No. Pure infatuation and lust, I think. He was an alcoholic.For eight years, I witnessed abuse and violence at the hands of this man. There was no love for anyone in him, besides himself and his bottle. What did she love? The good side of him, I suppose. That's often how abusers operate, isn't it? He could be so overly generous and affectionate, that she always found reasons to forgive him. Until he left. For someone else. Devastating for sure.  My life lesson? Love hurts. Don't open up to that, it will harm you.

Then, she was free. Until she remarried.  This man was competitive and possessive. Never physically abusive, but certainly controlling. And he'd never had children of his own. So, inheriting three children who were already in their teens was a hard adjustment. He was fun when he was in a good mood, but sometimes he'd just close off. No emotion. Just silence. I was 17 and moved out of that house on the second day after graduation. Ran. I could never live like that.

But by then I had already met the Trucker. He filled something up inside me. He showed me what it was to be valued. He taught me that maybe it's okay to open up a little.

And then our own pasts conflicted. We had many stops and breaks and restarts in the first few years. Not because we didn't love each other. Not because we couldn't make it work. But simply because neither of us knew what love was supposed to be like.

Now I know. 17 years later, I finally understand. Love is full of infatuation and lust. It comes and goes. I'll openly admit that I still get butterflies when he gets home from work. Almost every single day.

Love is forgiveness. We both have faults, we make mistakes, but because we have a strong love for each other, we work together to either fix the issue or accommodate it.

Love is supportive. Love wants the best for each other, not just ourselves. It is love that prompts my Trucker to make rash purchases of new vehicles. He wants me safe. He wants to be confident that our kids will be safe. It is love that keeps him pushing me to chase my dreams. It is love that makes me push him, too. I don't want 'a better man,' I want him happy. I want him to do what makes him happy.

Love is sacrifice. Love tells us that we can wait for something we want, because we believe the other person needs something more. Married love is entirely different than family love. There are still times, after seventeen years, that we feel like teenagers together. We can fight and make up. We can cry or yell or say things we don't really mean and then look at each other and remember that it's not the end of the world.

I strongly believe that you will often fall in and out of love with the same person. True love keeps you working when others would give up and leave.

Love is communication. I can talk to the Trucker about everything. Sure, we disagree. Yes, there are misunderstandings. After years of doing things the wrong ways, we are finally figuring each other out. We are learning to keep talking. We are learning that sometimes even if you snap at me, it's not really ME that you are mad at. We always have time to figure out what the real problem is.
We have been at our worst together. We have lost everything together. We have gained everything and more back... together. We have three amazing children who reflect our love. My kids will not have the same confusion I had. They will know what love is. They will not be afraid to feel their feelings. They will learn that everything takes work, and often the more work you put in the more value you get out.

So, Thank You, My Darling Trucker. For learning with me and showing me what a really loving relationship is. I know very few things in life are certain, but I am certain that I want you to be beside me through it all.

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