The one with all the love...

Nearly 400 years ago, William Shakespeare asked; "So, what is love?"

Ironically, while at university, I studied his masterpieces trying to find the answer. I was secretly wishing that out of everyone in literacy, he would be the one to know. He didn't. Or maybe he did but he just didn't want to ruin what can't be explained and chose not to....

It took me a long time to decide whether I should write this or not. When I told my sister that I was contemplating whether I should write about the most unexplainable feeling in the world, she paused (with a little bit of fear in her voice I must admit) and murmured..."oh honey, do you really think you should?"

You see..this is the thing about love; it's hard to put into words. After all, as we all know...The most sincere feelings in life are always the hardest to explain.

So, after a lot of scientific research as well as soul searching...I turned to some of my closest friends and asked them a series of questions about love and being in love. Most of them were more than happy to take time out and share with me their experiences, their knowledge and their wisdom. For that, I thank them. But I will be honest with you. There is still a lot I am not sure about. But let's give it a go. For Mr. Valentine's sake..

Let's look at science first. Apparently deep inside the brain, a complex set of structures in and around the limbic system is responsible for our emotions. This pleasure-and-reward area plays a role in how we feel, how we express what we feel and in the formation of memories both good and bad. As we begin to fall in love with someone, this area is flooded with a chemical called dopamine (when times are really good). So, the happiness generated in these feel good areas compels us to repeat the behaviour. And fall in love...once? Or more?

Falling In love is that euphoric feeling at the beginning of a relationship. It's the butterflies in your tummy when you are about to meet your special one. It's the sweet pain you feel when they are not there. It's the blindness towards any negative traits of your beloved. It's day dreaming. It's a combination of a racing heart and increased energy as well as feelings of fear and despair just in the thought of losing them.

To me, being in love is a form of addiction. It is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. If you really want to know where your heart is, just look to where your mind goes when it wanders in the morning as soon as you get up or late at night when the lights go off and everything is quiet. That's when too much of a good thing is truly wonderful and you have a smile that could light up a whole town. You are in love. And that's just perfect.

But if that's the case and being "in love" is such an amazing "state", then how is it possible that love can hurt sometimes?

Maybe because when you are in love with someone, you lay your heart open to them. You desperately want them to love you back. You forget about the rules. You give them a very special part of "you" and you let them inside a part of yourself that only they can hurt. You are selfless and incredibly vulnerable. You give them permission to handle your heart and your soul. You trust them blindly. So really...You give them the right to love or destroy you. And that's when being in love can really hurt.

I dare to look back.

I have definitely made mistakes. Unfortunately love doesn't come with instructions. But I have been blessed with love. In my teens, I learnt that someone can be in love with you, before they even get to know you. Their heart is open and innocent, ready to flourish and nurture this wonderful feeling for the first time. You are best friends and you slowly grow together. You fall in love. You share your dreams and fears, you laugh at each other's silliness and have a great time. You learn that you can close all your love and affection for one another just by holding hands or hugging tight. And its enough. That's when we don't choose...our heart does. I also learnt that, very rarely, someone very special can be in love with you for years, before they even find the courage to confess how they feel. No questions, no returns, no mistakes. Just pure love. And I definitely learnt that falling in love is easy...but staying in love is special.

Things changed later. In my early twenties I learnt that you don't always choose who you love. Sometimes you feel things, that you simply can't explain. From that very first moment, you go into a roller coaster of emotions that takes you to places you have never been before. You don't even think about it. No logic..You just go along. And you can love someone with all your heart but they don't necessarily have to love you back. Or maybe they do, but just in a different way to the one you know or you are used to. That's when you get confused. You learn that no matter how much you try, whatever you say or do, you will just never be enough. You fight for attention and time without realising that if they are not given freely, they are not worth having. You get addicted to the pain of wanting someone unattainable and you suffer. You really do. You make mistakes. And they do too. Lots of them. And before you know it, everyone gets hurt.

They say that one of the hardest things in life is deciding when to let go. You know.. That last goodbye..

Have you ever had to walk away?

At this very moment there are no words left. You only have one choice. You don't run away. You can't. You open your eyes. It's the time when you look at your beloved and you die inside because you know it is all over. You don't want to go, but deep down you are perfectly aware of the fact that, if you stay, you will never look at that person again, at least not in the same way. And they won't either. And that hurts more. You set aside what you feel and remember what you both deserve. You lock your heart up and walk away from what you thought was real. You feel every moment. You learn to accept, to forgive and to give the gift of your absence to those who at the time can't appreciate your presence. It's nobody's fault. It cannot be changed, undone or forgotten.

The best friend you have at that moment is time. Time has a wonderful way to show what really matters. Time gently reminds us that we have loved, have been loved but at the end.. we have simply lost. We have now become old friends from the past. If that.

As the years go by, I realise that we cannot change what's happened and we cannot predict or force love. Some relationships show you what you want, others what you don't want or what you can't handle. There comes a time when you heart admits what your mind already knows. You take a deep breath and you let it go. You never erase or forget what happened. You have the scars to remind you. After all... if you forget about the past, then you are condemned to repeat it.

Instead.. You learn from it, you become better and you move on. As long as you keep the good memories, yesterday remains, and if you are lucky enough, love just finds you.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky said; "with love, one can live even without happiness".

To me, today, love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. Love is selfless devotion. Love is feeling happy, safe and secure. True love is giving and receiving equal. It is a meeting of two souls who truly accept the dark and light within them but still choose to silence each other's monsters and grow together into bliss. Mandy Hale said once that "if your love doesn't make you better, then it isn't love. True love makes you more of who you are...not less".

Whether you choose to love, be "in love" or both; these are without a doubt, the most wonderful feelings in the world. Are you celebrating your love today? Every other day?

I have a confession to make...

I don't believe in valentine's day. I never have. And I probably never will. But I believe in love and I most certainly believe in falling "in love". I believe that days like today are probably for the less romantic souls; for the ones that need a reminder to express their love and lust for one another. I, on the other hand, don't really care for it. I don't need a heart shaped chocolate, a fluffy bear or a red rose to seal the "love deal". Maybe a song, a note or a kiss is enough...every day..not just today..

But as a hopelessly romantic soul...I will be telling my daughter this;

Every woman deserves to have a man who is proudly willing to say to the whole world "Yes she is my one and only. She is beautiful and she is mine". I will tell her to find someone who loves her not because she is perfect but for who she really is. I will pray for her to find someone who can be her true friend. Who can make her smile. Laugh. Grow. Feel. Lust. Listen to her dreams. Travel the world. Be proud. Hold her hand tight. Miss her when she is not there and stare at her when she is asleep. A very special soul that will brush the hair out of her face only to kiss her goodnight and tell her that she is the most beautiful girl in the world.

I will make sure I tell her dreams and love there are no impossibilities.

This is when the closest thing to magic.

Happy Valentine's day!
T.M. 14 Feb' 14