I know, it’s not February. It’s not Valentine’s Day. But I’ve been thinking about love. The love we grow up with, and how love changes as we age. How we see it differently as we mature from kids and teens into adults with committed relationships and families. When I was a kid, I loved animals. We had a few different furry pets and eventually got a dog. Dogs are always happy to see you. It’s easy to love a dog.
I was one of those kids who had a crush on pretty much any boy who was nice to me for more than two seconds, or who was cute. Yup. Full on crush. One of those, “please notice me or I’m going to die,” type things. I thought I struck pay dirt when one boy wanted to give me a knuckle sandwich.
Oh goody! He wants to eat lunch with me!
My older brother had to explain that this wasn’t a good thing. I was five.
I didn’t fare much better in middle school, still crushing from time to time, and in fact, true love didn’t finally come calling until partway through college. It was amazing and lasted over three years.
One of the things about love is, as much as it lifts us up, sending us soaring above the clouds, eventually we come down. It’s nature. What goes up must come down.
Sometimes love hurts. And sometimes when we love someone, we hurt them. Not on purpose, but it happens. Especially with our kids. They always seem to want to do what they want to do, not what we need them to do. And it’s the job of a parent to raise a child so they can survive in the world, make a living, and take care of themselves. Because one day, we won’t be there to do things for them. That’s love.
We have to raise our children so they can survive in a dog eat dog world.
Most of us remember our first heartaches when we broke up with our steady guy or gal, whether it was in middle school, high school, or college. Or when our love was rebuffed in the first place.
I was such a love junkie. Falling for some guy who didn’t know I was alive, and mooning over him. Or the time I found out that the guy I’d been crushing on for most of summer camp, liked me back, two days before camp ended. I cried until I fell asleep during the car ride home. And waited by the mailbox for a letter, flying high when one came, then anxiously awaiting a reply to the one I’d immediately send. Eventually, the letters stopped coming. I was twelve. Oh, the heartache!
Years later during my wedding ceremony, we included readings from Corinthians in the Bible that talk about love being kind, patient, and blind. About it protecting, having hope, trusting, and persevering. This religious sort of love sounded really nice. Something to aspire to. But it’s not always realistic, is it?
We all get jealous and get angry at our spouses. We all get sick and tired of this or that, especially when we’re sick or tired. We end up in fights, lashing out at those closest to us: family. We hurt them and they hurt us the deepest.
We love them the deepest and would walk through fire for them. We’d even die for them.
I never experienced this depth of love until the day my toddler ran full tilt toward the street, and I suddenly saw a big SUV come around a corner, barreling down the country road. Time slowed down, and I not only calculated that I wouldn’t be able to get to my son before he got to the road but because of a row of bushes, the driver wouldn’t see my son until they were feet from him, too close to stop. I calculated getting there in time to push him out of the way and take the brunt of the hit. I might break a few bones, but I had a much better chance than my toddler. I’d even die for him.
Fortunately, the SUV turned into a driveway just before it would have hit my son, and all was well. Other than me being a sobbing mess for a little while.
When I began to work on myself, using hypnotherapy, I began to experience a different sort of love. I had experiences of unconditional love. Of spiritual love. I saw scenes from my past when I wasn’t treated lovingly but thought it was love because it came from a family member. We all believe that love sometimes hurts, but I learned that’s not love. At least it’s not spiritual love. It’s what I now refer to as human love. A real mixed bag of emotions. In spiritual terms, what we call human love is actually attachment. An energetic bond or connection.
The love I began to not only feel but to embody, session by session, doesn’t judge, isn’t jealous, doesn’t lose hope, has all the patience and faith in the world, and accepts me exactly as I am, warts and all.
The love I experienced was unconditional beyond words. Accepting me, everything I do and everything I am, without any conditions. It was overwhelming at times, leaving me in tears. And it didn’t take too many experiences for me to know it’s what we are at our core.
As I dove into healing work, uncovering and dissolving root causes of all sorts of discontent in my life, session after session reunited me with bits and pieces of my inner child. The one who was hurt by love when she was little. The one who was clever enough to figure out how to survive. The one who waited for me to go back in time and save her.
I witnessed these parts of myself, kept separate for decades, come back into my heart. Come back to love. And I saw them morph from scared and sad little girls into joyful children. Who morphed again as they aged right before my eyes. Eventually rejoining me at my present age. Bringing that joy back into my heart. Bringing unconditional love back to me.
What I never knew when I grew up, was real love doesn’t hurt. And if I’m feeling hurt and not feeling loved, it’s because there’s something deep within me blocking the flow of love. Doing healing work changes us from the inside out, letting go of things that no longer serve us, so we can walk in the world with more inner peace, flow, patience, understanding, grace, wisdom, and most importantly, love.