What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me.
Don’t hurt me.
Ahem…completely ashamed to admit I’m your dad yet? Probably are. Your loss, I’m wonderful and any child would be lucky to have me!
You’ve probably heard your mom say, “I want a divorce” enough times to give you a complex, at least now you know the reasoning behind it! I’m an absolute embarrassment on my best days.
Now to be more serious with you (unless your mother really did divorce me and I’m currently sitting alone in my cramped little apartment eating ice cream out of the tub and watching soap operas and you truly are ashamed to call me your dad), love is the most important thing in the world, more important than magic or dreams or the Leafs or Disney or success or, well, really anything. Unlike the other things I mentioned that make up your personality and the life you end up living, love IS you. Weird wording but I can be clearer. Love is your essence. It is the culmination of your experience on earth and the relationships you have had, currently have, and will ever have. Love defines your understanding of the word and love allows you to feel everything so deeply that it resonates with you on a level you couldn’t possibly explain to anyone without sounding utterly insane.
Love, some will say, is just a word, or maybe they’ll be more generous and say that it’s just a feeling. They will say that love is just a stronger feeling than liking someone and all it defines is how much you care about your partner and your family and your friends and your pets.
Love is so much more than a feeling kid(s).
I was born with a big heart. Not anatomically, mind you. I was born with a huge capacity to love. When I was younger, this meant I was living with an even greater ability to be hurt deeply than a lot of people. I felt things deeper, loved more intensely, and cared about things that most people think are just stupid. I couldn’t watch a dog get kicked in a movie without feeling like my heart had just broken. This is something that has never changed either. As I got older I felt myself getting colder, or at least that’s what I told myself. I started to become disinterested in many things and had such a low sense of self-worth that I didn’t care about much. Except that I did care. I cared so deeply that I was feeling my pain in a way that was devastating me. What was, to others, a little bit of loneliness was complete and utter abandonment to me. A cruel word was a heart break. A bad day was a reason to want it all to end.
Love sounds pretty great so far am I right?! I mean, who doesn’t want to feel the BAD things so much that they want to die?
I’m kidding, of course. When the bad things are happening and when you feel them so deeply because you love so much it feels like your life is ending and it feels like you have been singled out to suffer in this world for some crime you didn’t even know you committed love can seem extremely toxic. You may even walk the earth feeling guilt and feeling like you deserve the pain because if you didn’t it wouldn’t be happening.
So, why then, is love so great if the bad things are just as extreme, if not more-so, than the good things?
Ask somebody who is more in control of their feelings what they felt the first time they swam in the ocean. They will, probably tell you, it was beautiful and fun and exciting. Then, ask someone with an uncontrollably large capacity to love what they think and they might just define the ocean as serenity; the feeling of perfect quiet and stillness. They may tell you that it felt like the entire world was always just white noise before that moment and suddenly it faded into oblivion leaving them with nothing but silence and the cool wet of the water splashing against their bodies and the sound of the waves crashing. They may also tell you that it felt like no moment in their life had ever been so important as that one because, for what felt like the first time in their lives, they were at peace.
Can you spot the difference between the two answers?
I’m not saying that people who feel this way are better people or that they treat people better and they are just the most wonderful examples of compassion and wisdom. I’m saying that love and the understanding and appreciation for what it truly is, not just a word, it changes your perspective of absolutely everything. It makes pretty things the most beautiful sights you’ve ever seen, it makes a first kiss the moment in time you wish you could revert to over and over again just to relive it. It doesn’t make you a better person but it gives you the ability and the appreciation of what being better version of yourself can mean.
Sometimes, I find it hard to find my own meaning for things and I get lost in my own explanation so, forgive me if any of this or anything I ever say gets jumbled.
Love is not just a feeling. Love is how and how deeply you feel about absolutely everything. It decides what path you will walk down in life and who you will become. It gives you a window into your soul and into knowing exactly who you are and what you were meant to do in the world.
What about loving a person? When you feel things so deeply as I have you will, no doubt, believe you are in love a number of times. Maybe you’ll even struggle to keep friends because you keep convincing yourself that you’re in love with them, I know I had that issue. When you finally really fall for someone though and you find out what it actually is to love someone with all of your heart…oh man kiddo(s), you will never be the same again.
When I fell in love with your mom she was different from the start. The reason behind that is actually pretty funny. We started hanging out and we got along famously (duh, we’re both wonderful people). Our friendship got to an intimate level pretty quickly in what we share with each other because we were just two people who feel things so deeply and expressing our feelings is a huge part of who we are. Your mom was different than any of the countless girls I convinced myself I loved because I was sure I didn’t love her at first. Funny right? She’s probably not laughing when she reads this…but I can explain why this is so significant and maybe convince her to not divorce me.
Your mom was kinda-sorta seeing someone else when we became friends so, she wasn’t available as it stood. As our friendship grew stronger and time went on I knew that she was important to me, so quickly she became family. Well, once again I was feeling too much for a friend right? Wrong. I loved her, that was true, but I truly thought I was happy, for the first time in my young life, just to have a friend. I thought I could love this girl as a friend and I would never need more. This was better than I had ever felt about any girl ever. Again, why is this so good? I’m getting there! Sheesh. You did not get my patient demeanor.
None of the other girls were worth as much to me as your mom. Not one. This isn’t to say some of them weren’t perfectly nice girls, they were. They just were not as good as your mom. The relationship I had with them, it did not nearly mean as much to me as the only short relationship I had with your mom at the time of our friendship. I loved her so much, so deeply and so readily that all that mattered to me in the entire world was keeping her in my life. I didn’t care how; I just needed her to be there more than I had ever needed another human being in my life. This is why your mom was so different. That need, that love I felt, it shot right through me to my core and it consumed me and it made me change and become someone that I could love enough to be worthy of having this amazing person’s love.
Yes, after a while that ability to just stay her friend faded because, when you love someone as much as I love your mom, it doesn’t stop growing and that was why when I told her how I felt it was the first time I honestly didn’t want to tell a girl that I liked her. I didn’t want her to know because, for the first time in my life I was petrified of what her knowing might do to our relationship and what it would do to me if she couldn’t handle those feelings. As scared as I was though, I also couldn’t contain what I felt. It was too much.
The rest of the story, well I’m sure you’ve heard it before. I’m awesome so of course she fell in love with me.
Love felt like the worst thing in the world to ever happen to me when I was young and hurt over and over and over again. Love was such a terrible thing until that one day when it just wasn’t anymore. Suddenly, I never wanted to feel anything ever again because nothing would ever feel this good.
If you get only one quality from both your mom and I, I truly hope it is our hearts and our ability to love. I hope you get to understand just how different the world can be when you feel absolutely everything like it’s the first time you felt anything.
Let me tell you, when you have that magnificent moment when you’re standing in the ocean for the first time, knowing that just a few feet away from you is the person that loves you as deeply as they can while letting you love them as deeply as they can, it makes that moment so much more profound. It becomes the moment you spend the rest of your life thinking about. The moment you knew that nobody and nothing in the world will ever make you feel so complete.
I guess I’ll find out if it’s possible to feel that all over again when I become a dad.