I’m an advocate of love. Tender love, tough love, timid love. All the loves that don’t start with “t” either. It’s something I think about a lot. Like how I have a theory that once you start loving someone, there is a way in which a part of you never stops- it just changes. But some love is easier than others; circumstances, people, experiences all impact this.
I find, more often than not, I want to believe I am the kind of person that loves in a practical way. I mean like, don’t let things be afraid to fall apart. But know that they will help build something else up. There is always going to be some kind of a cycle of hurt and wonder. I want my love to reconcile the confusions in simple truths, make things seem less convoluted. I want my love to be about the present, and presence. About feeling me there when you need me even if my physical self is away.
“Listen to me, your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest—thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated.” – Beau Taplin
Yes, Beau Taplin, something like that. I want to be the kind of person that can make the truth feel gentle in the way that the truth is only as permanent as the present is. I think though, the difference sometimes between telling the truth and honesty is a certain brutality that comes with honesty. It rips things up because it is open; it is gaping. And that is a line sometimes finer than you would believe that I have difficulty with. Truth and honesty, who would have noticed the difference?
More commonly though I think that tough love is something that I toy with, and that is awash with honesty. It is stark. It is the slap in the face when you come back to reality from panic. I use it with myself as well, which I sometimes forget is accompanied by easy and accepting love too. The messages of the people in my life and the different tones of love that they took – who got through? But I mean well, you know? I think that sometimes cold hard facts come with cold hard love. Sometimes this rings true.
So, tough love is egregious in it’s ability to be misunderstood. It is tough to give, because sometimes it can feel void of kindness. It can be intense and sometimes feel lonely. It is easy to forget the empathetic part. It’s very difficult to tell someone in a certain way that they are not special – but it is because they must maintain that they contain as much will and reason to carry on like so many other people do. Only to show them that they can too indeed make it – there are so many more ways to do things than the way they are being now. There is infinite capacity for change, for betterment, for happiness. But that is because they are not any different. You can see how it gets hard?
But in my opinion, sometimes a tender love is too soft to get through to make change. But a comfort is a thing that at least gets someone through the day. And through many days is the goal. To keep going day by day. So tenderness is necessary. As you can maybe tell, I have another theory that love is essential to survival. It just manifests sometimes in fucked up ways. Not that that’s okay – the fucked up things that happen as a result of love – but it’s not as if it’s all bad either. Or inconsequential.
So, like we do, love contains multitudes. We love in the way that we cook; a little of this, a little of that. Finding an ebb between them all can be difficult. I often feel off kilter when trying to give someone love, like trying to find your balance for too long and questioning if you have any or if maybe your posture is just off.
In this knowledge, I try to find an acceptance that the love I need may not be easy to give, and that the love others need may also not be something that I know much of. Not all need what I have in my repertoire, and maybe I haven’t had the experience to give the kind of love that another needs too.
It gets hard. It is hard. Because love itself is a reaction of many things all together; sympathy, happiness, sorrow, intrigue. Different emotions create different loves. Some are almost – but not quite – like another.
I think this is why it is often said we need to love ourselves before we love another. Not because we are unable to love others, or to be loved by others. But because it is essential for us to understand how our love feels; what we do and don’t need, what reactions cause what. We need to explore the way we make ourselves feel and understand these emotions. In my experience, if we don’t explore ourselves, we miss that much more in others.
Written by Forest Greenwell