Teach me how to love.

4 Oct

When I was little, I played in the fern garden of my hated neighbour, pretending it was this raucous city with homes and streets, hurried businesses, the hustle and bustle of green and white striped socks and hot wheels.

But there were never families. There were never couples. No one lived happily ever after in my worlds, in the ferns, or under the wrought iron vanity table in my bedroom. No one walked the aisle, had babies.

Everyone always died. Violently. Tied to the legs of that vanity as their enemies slit their throats, or just lost in the ferns, buried, quieted.

No one held hands and rode into the sunset.


As of late, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my expectations in a relationship, my scrambling for that magical sign of perfect adoration, my need for some inexplicable something. It hit me. My ideas of love, of warmth, of affection-they are all predicated on drama, on those last grand gestures.

My experience of a happy marriage was one where there was love, yes, but there was also a stinking festering cancer that slowly ate and destroyed my mother. Perhaps it’s easier to love someone perfectly, at least in the eyes of a 9 year old, when they are dying. Grand gestures hold meaning when they aren’t expected, and love is more vivid when you realize it’s leaving.

But this left me, as a teen, with the distinct impression I would be alone forever. That love wasn’t worth it. And when I found love, I sunk into it with teeth, clung to it, even if maybe I should have stepped back and taken a better look at my needs and wants. Because those needs have overcome everything else in my life, but to the point where I don’t even understand what I do want and need because I have never had the joy of a real, loving, NORMAL relationship around me. I’ve become driven by a need for grand declarations, I weep at movies that have those impossible scenes of love and devotion, rationally knowing that real life has mortgage payments and school picture days, and not passion inspired by death, not every day. I weep for the unreal, and feel like some uneducated putz watching soap operas and trying to figure out how I got where I am.

I crave something that truly isn’t real, not in any sustainable way, and then I push away the things real life is built on, small gestures, little kindness, an ear, and wonder why I’m so hard to love. I’ve figured that out now, discovered one last legacy of losing my mother, a legacy which has truly created a monster.

I’d like that to be buried now too.

5 Responses to “Teach me how to love.”

  1. Marcy October 4, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    Frustrating, isn’t it…

    My scoffing side is too loud for my sentimental side to get through most of the time… I harp on “good enough” and the sacredness of the ordinary and everyday, theoretically, but they’re hard to be satisfied with. And any time anyone else (in movies or real life) seems to have gotten the dramatic and wonderful and ideal, it both makes me sneer and makes me jealous.

  2. Gwen October 5, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    This is excellent writing, T, and also contains such nuggets of wisdom about the true beauty of love. I hope you have the chance to live that wisdom now, soon.

  3. Bon October 6, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Thor…i’m really late to this but could have written the last two paragraphs myself, when i was twenty-eight or twenty-nine and busily dismantling my marriage in confusion and pain. you and i had different experiences growing up but obviously took similar lessons from them…in the end i wish i’d had your self-awareness on the subject at the time but i am living proof that happiness with the everyday can be achieved even by a drama junkie…just takes time and conscious, brutal rewiring.

  4. Kyle October 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    Burial is a ritual, right? And, of course, something has to die to be buried. So my question is: now that you’ve shone a light on this craving for the unreal, for the dramatic, is the craving actually dead? If not, perhaps you need to quietly watch it as it dies. Or at least listen to it as it passes into some other form. If it really is dead, then I think you need to ritualize the burial of it. It’s hard to be human sometimes when we have so few proper rituals in our post-science world.

  5. thordora October 7, 2008 at 5:43 pm #

    Yes, I do need to pack it away, literally. But to do that, I think I’d need to travel home, which I hope to do next summer to put more than a few things to bed.

    Bon, I wish I had my self awareness a number of years ago-would have saved myself, and others much pain. Now, I hope to live a life that focuses on happy, instead of what if.

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