I’ve been reading a lot lately. Romance books in specific. The most recent I’ve read, 50 Shades of Grey and A Shadow of Night, both portray swoon-worthy male leads. I suppose they are meant to be different but they do have some similarities. Both Christian Grey and Matthew de Clairmont are slightly ruthless leaders, intelligent, rich, commanding, have tendencies towards over-protectiveness and can also be egoistical and overbearing. Christian Grey is a CEO and Matthew de Clairmont is a highly esteemed scientist, having won awards for his research. Both characters have a tender side (saved specifically for the heroines, their sisters and their mothers), are very giving when it comes to wealth, quite athletic and love animals. On the flip side, they are both scarred, a bit broken and somehow, someway, it’s the heroine’s love that fixes them.
Have you been in a relationship where your partner has suffered from depression/addiction/family problems? Or even one where he is just trying to make his mark on the world, and is working so hard that you come second? Has he ever broken promise after promise, and you go, “oh it’s ok, he’s got so much work to do,” or “his family is just so demanding and he’s such a good son.” And then he comes to you when he needs someone to talk to, or is sick and you drop everything. My mother is a great advocate of this behaviour. In every relationship I have ever had, she has asked me to be patient and understanding. That’s the behaviour she had with my dad. Her idea of love is to give unconditionally. My idea of love was the same. And my nurturing instinct was in full gear. Some might argue that my nurturing instinct is still pretty switched on but that’s another story.
When I read books and watch movies like these, it puts things out there. Some women do tend to give all. And of course in literature, what the heroine gives, the guy reciprocates in a different manner. Somewhere along the way he takes care of her, and of course there is the ever sought after proposal that leads into forever. It might not be so in real life. What you give, you might not get back. And forever is a long time to be with someone who lives with shadows. Sure we are built with this internal antenna to nurture and care for, but I’m wondering if our antenna needs some fine tuning. The instinct to protect and nurture, was it not primarily put there for our offspring? And how do we intend to nurture our offspring when we’ve spent all of our nurturing juice on this broken man that we have? There is only so much of a person to go around.
At what point do you draw the line? When do you walk away? I know you see his/her potential and what he/she can become. But how long do you want to wait for him/her to see that same potential? Do you wait and wait and wait, hoping that with your support this other person will heal and become everything we know they can become? And yes, you love this person. But at what point do you wrap your love around yourself and see that this time you’re spending, it’s yours. The year, two years, four years you spend crying when this person is not there when they say they will be, or on another holiday that had to be cancelled because of his schedule/family/friend obligation, those are tears you won’t get back. There will be promises aplenty, but how many promises does it take to make up for a lifetime lost?
It took me a long time to learn, but loving someone else, be it family, friend or lover doesn’t mean that you stop loving you. It doesn’t mean limitless love. My mother wanting me to settle down taught me that it was, but it really isn’t. The desire to be with someone should not be so strong that you compromise your love for yourself. So yes, you’re getting older. So yes, there’s not much out there. So what? What is wrong with being alone? Is a hug and a kiss a good reason to tie yourself to someone? For life? Don’t you have friends for that? And sex. Is sex worth binding yourself to someone for life?
My mother taught me that love was giving all, but love is an emotion. It’s what you do with it that counts. Love has to start with loving yourself. Because how can you think of forever with someone else if a forever with yourself is unbearable? It’s a practice, but it has to start somewhere. Sometimes you just need to brave the loneliness, come back to the bare basics and find you again. Clear out your heart space, relearn what you know of love, and start from an emptiness. And sometimes, it’s fine to say that your love is conditional.