Love Without Labels

Only an absolute fool would attempt to write about a subject as ethereal as love, which would explain why I am daring to do so.  There have been thousands of poems, songs, books, movies, etc. all dedicated to some facet of love and all of its trappings, so, to tackle this topic in a post is truly foolhardy, but love is something I have chased and embraced since I came out of the womb.  So,it is natural that I would attempt to write about it at some point, and that time is now.  I also have come to discover through personal and professional experiences that love is the one thing everyone, even the biggest cynics, want on some level.  Love is a universal language that we all speak with our hearts, although some are more fluent than others.

There is no definitive definition of love, as it takes on many different forms and means something different to each person who dreams of it, experiences it, and loses it.  So, if you are hoping that I am going to share some sort of profound insight into what love is or how to find it, save your time and read no further.  What I am about to share are simply the musings of a big-hearted, but somewhat weary, girl who still is trying to navigate the highs and lows of love in a world that sometimes feels devoid of the very thing we all crave, need, and want.

The inspiration for this post comes from a comment made during dinner on a beautiful summer night last week.  As referenced in my post entitled “Looking for Blue Skies Beyond the Gray CLouds”, I enjoyed a wonderfully meaningful conversation with two special friends, Michelle and Ellen, about a variety of topics, one of them being tonight’s topic of love.  Ellen was talking about her relationship with Michelle, and she remarked that she did not put a label on their relationship and explained, “I just call it love”.  Her comment was so brilliantly simple and beautiful, and it touched my heart deeply. 

Love, in and of itself, is not that complicated actually.  That said, it is what we do with love that makes it so unnecessarily complex.  We all want to love and be loved, yet it seems that some of us are terrified of it and, unconsciously and consciously, sabotage the love that is offered to us and the love that we have to offer to others.  Sometimes, we erect barriers around our heart that require Olympian feats of strength, courage, and perseverance to scale that invisible barrier by the ones who want to love us.  We have unseen and unspoken rules about what love is and is not and who we can and cannot love, and we label it, over think it, judge it, and rationalize it to the point that it becomes almost unrecognizable.  We withhold our feelings, have unrealistic expectations of others, wait for the “perfect” person and/or the “perfect” situation, remain in safe, but loveless, relationships, push others as far from our heart as possible, give up when difficulties, real or imagined, arise, and a litany of other transgressions.  No matter what form of self-sabotage we engage in, the end result is always the same.  We are left alone in our misery and lament that we are unloveable and that true love is nonexistent. 

Other times, we throw ourselves head over heels into a relationship, as we try to gain the object of our desire’s attention and affection.  Love becomes as vital to us as the air we breathe, and we have an insatiable appetite for it.  It is all-consuming, and we will do almost anything to get it and maintain it.  The thought of losing it is terrifying, yet by holding onto it with a vice grip, we end up squeezing the life out of the relationship and are right back where we started from, still searching for someone to share our love with. 

In different relationships, I have either been the one who has been too emotionally paralyzed to allow myself to accept someone’s love for me and to return that love, or I have been the one trying to convince someone to love me as much as I love that person.  Both have left my heart bruised, but in spite of myself, I still am the same girl who used to stare at the stars and wish for a soul mate to love and accept me unconditionally.  I am not referring to the love found in the popular romantic comedies or in romance novels, as I do not have writers, make up artists, costumers, set designers, editors, etc. to create the fictionalized versions of love portrayed on the big screen or on the pages of a book in my real life. On a superficial level, the fictionalized versions of love may seem to be ideal, but I think real life love and all of its imperfections are preferable by far.   Plus, I would like the kind of love I am seeking to last more than 2 hours or a few hundred pages. 

I have thought a lot about what Ellen said that night, and love without labels best describes what love means to me.  It cannot be explained, defined, planned, or controlled, and no amount of time or distance can limit it.  When I do love someone, I do so purely, freely, and deeply.  I love the person, not their occupation, their income, their material possessions, or any of the other things that are not part of their personality, heart, and soul.  There is nothing quite like being able to be who you are and have someone love and accept you, flaws and all, and to be able to love and accept another person completely and unabashedly is truly remarkable.  It goes beyond the initial giddiness of infatuation and the first stages of a relationship when you both are on your best behavior.  It is very easy to love someone under the best of circumstances, but true love reveals itself when you can see each other through the absolute worst of times and come out no worse for the wear and possibly even better.  It means thinking of that person for no reason at all and for every reason under the sun, wanting them to be the first person you talk to when something good happens and especially when something not so good occurs, trusting them implicitly, challenging one another, talking about everything and nothing, laughing together and wiping away each other’s tears, fighting for what you both want and making up after fighting with one another, bringing out the best in one another and tempering the worst, and complementing, not completing, one another.  It may sound daunting, but if we just get of our own way, love will remain and continue to grow.  To me, it really is that simple.  So, will I ever find this version of love with the person who is my soul mate?

That’s another story . . .



Categories: That's Another Story

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4 replies

  1. WOW! So well said KJ! That’s all I know to say!

  2. Well, I love YOU! So much truth about the human condition Kristi. I tend to define love by what it does. Love diligently seeks and does what is BEST for its object. I’ve learned that in order to do that I have to be plugged in to the only One who truly knows what’s best for all those that I love. I ask Him to use me as His instrument to love them which requires that I empty myself of my selfishness and become an empty vessel for Him to fill. I believe the Bible when it says, “God is love,” so it follows that if I want to be able to love well, I have to pursue its Source.

    • Mel, thank you for reading my words and sharing yours, and most of all, thanks for loving me! Our friendships has been a sweet source of love through all of our individual and collective ups and downs, and it is a true gift indeed. I love you, too!

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