if only i’d known: your love is my love
There’s a great misconception that the only people who can hate Valentine’s Day are the bitter and twisted double X chromosomes who’ve been relegated to eternal spinsterhood. But it’s simply not true. Even if I had an XY chromosome hanging off my arm I’d still feel a similar disdain for the day where red hearts appear to have been vomited on every shop front and every person without a significant other is looked upon with dreary eyes and tilted heads – ‘You’ll find someone’, they say.
But with all my scorn, contempt and derision I do believe love should be celebrated, just not necessarily on 14 February each year. Like many girls I grew up on a wholesome supply of Disney movies where the young beautiful protagonist lived a less than meaningful life, almost always lacking any real autonomy. Life sucked until one day Prince Charming came along and while her autonomy is still nowhere in sight her life really perks up.That’s not to say she found meaning in life, but she certainly finds a handsome reason to don a ball gown. And this of course was supposed to be what life had in store for all of us, right? Dancing teacups, glass slippers and true love. If only we could hold out for our beast-turned-prince.
I was naïve enough to wait for some time. I grew up a happy kid and a nauseatingly perky teenager,unaffectedly optimistic, content and loving. Then some time between my 16th and 23rd birthdays I found myself cloaked in a genuine sadness. It wasn’t a permanent state. It came; it lingered for a while and left with less notice than it had arrived, only to return when I was most ill equipped to host it. There were reasons. We all have them. We lose hope, we lose sight but we also lose our ability to love and be loved, which are more interdependent than I ever expected.
There’s a song my little cousin used to sing at pre-school that went something along the lines of ‘Love is like a magic penny, hold on tight and you won’t get any. But lend it, spend it, give it away and it comes right back to you.’ Strangely enough, truer words have never been sung… at least not till Adele joined the music scene. Losing your ability to love, for me at least, has always coincided with moments when I’ve felt I had no self worth. What is the point in loving when all you get is heartache? Most depressingly, what is the point of love if we all die anyway?
It’s odd the way life is. The moments we profess we don’t need love are the moments we need it the most; unfortunately it’s also these times we are hardest to love. We’re usually angry, feeling like the world has failed to deliver all that it owes us and in times of hurt it appears the world owes us much. Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say, and I now realise that you can get a lot of love by giving a lot of love. It won’t heal all wounds but it can make things bearable.
We’re all capable of love in various forms. I’m guilty of over-using the word. I always love everything. I love frozen yoghurt, I love the new scarf I bought, I love the new café we tried and I love that film I just saw. I love the beach and the rain and if I knew you I’d probably love you too. But an enthusiasm for life is not the same as love of the unconditional kind that’ll serve as your magic penny and unconditional love is not to be mistaken for obsession or an unhealthy attachment to people, places or things. Unconditional love is love without expectation. It’s a difficult thing to do, sometimes painful and rarely rewarding in any material sense.
I’m not sure if you ever know whether or not you love someone unconditionally. Is there an ultimate test? Is it waking up one morning and realising that the person you love is someone else entirely and still being OK with that? Is it loving them long after they’ve hurt you and parted ways? I make no speculation but I also wonder does it really matter?
We know life is short and death is certain so why fill your numbered days with the bitter poison of hatred and resent? Call someone you love (and none of this love stuff relates specifically to romantic relationships – platonic ones are just as important), do something you know they enjoy and celebrate the love that is kinship or friendship or romance because life is tough and the world is a grim place and it’s the little things that make it worth staying.
Happy non-Valentine’s Day!