I was asked the other day if I ever really loved my ex-husband. I replied with "Yes, I believe I loved him as best I could at that point in my life." I'm fairly certain I've not said a more honest statement about that very real, very difficult, very painful part of my life.
I have always loved easy. To me, that's the easy part. It's all the other stuff that junk the loving up...trust, compatibility, shared values, dreams of what you each want your life to look like, family drama, compromise over all of the above...those things complicate the love, BUT...those things also have the ability (with patience) to take simplistic love to a whole new, deeper level. We are each very complex individuals searching to fill some very basic needs: acceptance, valued, wanted, chosen, cherished, trusted, safe...loved. The problem is, we fall in love young trusting that an emotion will be enough to sustain us without really taking a look at what we want for our life and whether or not the object of our undying affection truly fits into that equation. We most likely haven't really lived at that point which is part of what makes that love feel so special...we aren't carrying the weight of our emotional, six-piece set of Samsonite with us yet. We aren't comparing and weighing out the odds. We are simply loving.
I was no different. My life had been fairly simple up to the point at which I met my ex-husband. And, in my mind, (to credit the "pleaser" that I am) I was doing it all "right"...graduate high school, go to college, meet a great guy, graduate college engaged, get married, but a house, have a baby... Picture perfect in my mind. But, I knew little about life and all the junk it was gonna throw at us, much less how much I was going to be shaped by some of what I went through. I wasn't mature enough to truly compromise. I could love, but I'm not sure I knew what all that meant (included) at that point in my life. Was I in love? Very much. Was I selfish? Sure, still am in many ways. Did I put my happiness above his? In the end, yes. Is that still a hard thing to admit? You bet.
But...I can look back at the past seven years, at everything I've been through since my marriage, and not only am I much more honest with myself about what life looks like, but I also have a much better understanding of what I want/need out of it (alone or with someone) and what I am capable of giving. I understand now that love isn't just an emotion, that it takes real work but that's actually the part that makes it so worth it if two people are both ready and willing to give it all they've got.
I am reading Amy Poehler's book, "Yes Please". I love her candid honesty. She says she wants to get in deep with people, that she loves the richness of people over 40, that she has so much more to offer anyone in her life now that she's lived and she encourages people to "continue sharing your heart even if it's been broken"...she's my kinda girl and I really wish we could grab and drink and hang out.
Back to where this all started...I loved as best I could at that point in my life... Maya Angelou said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." I would like to believe that I am able to love (anyone, not just romantically) much better, with more depth and understanding...that I am better able to understand the positive ways compromise can benefit the relationships that matter...that I can see someone with all of THEIR "stuff" and meet them right where they are, loving them in the ways they need...that I can be more forgiving of someone else's shortcomings and better able accept my own. I do believe we are all doing the best we can...with what we have, where we are, at this moment. The thing is...we can't ever stop growing. I guess what I'm hoping for at this point in my life are relationships that are rich and deep...full of conversations that don't ignore the depth of life...love that takes everything to the next level...without reservation and fear of all the "what if's, could have's, should have's" that tend to plague even the best relationships. The way I see it, we can't undo the past (not that I would want to), and we only get one shot at this thing we call life. I want to take everything I've learned (because if not wouldn't it all be in vain?) and live, and love, the best I can...at THIS point in my life.