I was raised as most were, to believe in love and that it is the basis of all relationships. And so as I grew up and began dating I was in search of that love I had heard all about. I fantasized about dating, getting married and growing old with someone that I could love. And with every failed relationship I felt more and more worthless. There was something wrong with me, something unlovable. I had such a strong attachment to relationships and love that when things didn't work out I internalized that failure. Because love, true love is what I was taught embodied the perfect relationship, it is what we as women were to strive for. But time and time again I failed to love or be loved.
So love. What did that look like to me? Love was possession. He was to be mine, I was to be his. When I felt jealous, to me I was in love. I had ownership over him, he was to only want me. And so when a man became jealous because of me it was only natural to assume he loved me. So to me, love was jealousy.
Limiting. Love was about limits. No longer were you able to go out with friends when you wanted to, nor was he. Why? Because we have each other now? I am not sure how that came to be but love put limits on the who, what, when and wheres of how you live life. You were no longer your own person, free to be who you wanted to be. Now there are limits. He doesn't like how you do your hair or wear those tight jeans, it leads men on. Because love isn't about wearing those jeans because they make you feel good as a woman, it's about toning it down to a level he accepts. That is the love I was taught.
Rules. Love comes with lots of rules. You change how you talk to other men, being sure to not upset him by throwing out a fun flirty smile or even a simple laugh at another man's joke. You take caution in everything you say and do not wanting to upset him. So love becomes fear, walking on egg shells and again not being true to who you are because now you have rules. For all those things he fell in love with you for, the tight jeans, the fun flirty smile, the laughing at his jokes were a threat. And then, because you are no longer that person he fell in love with only because he asked you not to be, he walks away. Or, you decide you can no longer live life that way with him and you walk away.
So love then became very confusing for me. I wanted it so bad. But when I had it I despised it so I destroyed it. And each time i walked away feeling more defeated than before. My last significant relationship ended five years ago. I made sure I beat that one to the ground doing everything I could to get out. The highs were so high but the lows were unbearable. I wasn't allowed to eat, breathe or think without him dictating how I was to do it. When I walked away I made a pact with myself. My love will remain with my kids. They are the only ones that deserve it, that understand it, that will ever hear it come from my lips. I let go of my belief in a romanticized love. And my journey began.
Since then, having had a few relationships I still have not said those words. The difference between then and now is that I feel free having let go of all the limits and rules that come with love. I am truly free. I do not want to be owned, nor do I want to own anyone. I do not want to be limited nor do I want to limit anyone. I want to wear those tight jeans, do my hair or not do my hair, go out or not go out. I just want to be me. I am a strong independent woman. I don't need any man's love to hold me back. And aside from my kids, the only love I need to give is to myself. Love myself enough to allow failure, defeat, be humbled when I triumph and let myself grow as a woman. My love is reserved for me.