Thursday, November 14, 2013

Love Story.

Spoiler alert! This won't end well.
Baz Luhrmann ruined my love life. Or rather, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet did. This fabulously flashy spectacle came out when I was a very impressionable adolescent with a preexisting drama condition. I had already read the play and loved the story, but dreamy LeoDiCap and sweet, lovely Claire Danes sealed the deal: If it's not tragic, intense and consuming, it's not real love. (Don't even get me started on Titanic...)

We harbor all kinds of ideas about love and life from stories but none of these are derived more powerfully or importantly than from the way we were raised and our experiences along the way. The way we are loved and the quality of love we witness as we grow up teach what to view and accept as love. This writes our story of love and informs our ability to live openhearted, be intimate, and desire and maintain healthy relationships.

What's your Love Story?
Is it a tragedy? Is it a drama? Is it fraught with conflict? Does it hurt?
Is it a comedy? Does it make you laugh? Is it energizing and uplifting?
Is it a documentary? Does it offer valuable lessons? Is it inspiring?

What sort of love did you receive growing up? What did that teach you to believe about your worth?
What sort of love did you witness growing up? What did that teach you to expect and give in your relationships?

Opinions of love span the gamut from "love is all you need" to "love is a battlefield" and at varying times both may be true. But perhaps coming at our relationships as if they are war zones isn't the healthiest approach. What if love wasn't tumultuous or violent, burdensome or shaming, tragic, dramatic or consuming? What if it wasn't a game or a war where there are competitors, and winners and losers? There is conflict inherent at some point in all human relationships, but with compassion, respect and open communication, these moments can transform the relationship and the people in it, creating a deeper understanding, more love, respect and growth.

Life has enough naturally occurring difficulty that we don't need to burden ourselves with weighty, unsupportive relationships. If our Love Story tells us that this quality of relationship is Real Love, it may be time to reevaluate. I've long feared the boredom I perceive to be lurking in the stability and calm of a healthy relationship. Unhealthy relationships have become just as unsatisfying as I imagine it may be boring to be happy, though. What if happy was slanderously rebranded as boring? And what if people with addictions to suffering rebranded it so everyone would remain just as miserable as them? "Oh no, haven't you heard? Happiness is boring now. Dissatisfaction is the new black."

If your Love Story swings from agony to ecstasy, consider how nice it may be to spend more time somewhere in the middle, in the "boring" hum of happiness and consistency. Conflict will arise (it's even healthy if handled well!), but if the relationship isn't life giving and affirming the majority of the time, what are you doing? All our relationships, romantic or otherwise, should be inspiring and uplifting, challenge us to grow beyond our limits and nurture our passions. If a relationship becomes consistently unsupportive, unloving or ever becomes abusive in any way, leaving should be at the top of the to do list. No one likes letting go, but honestly, what are you holding on to? Life being a struggle from cradle to grave is a story to be disbelieved. Happiness is our birthright.

Let your love be an offering, a sharing, a partner puzzle, an inspiration, a party, the right kind of touch, a perfectly ripe persimmon, a secret smile, a gentle confrontation, an intimate whisper.
Let your love light up the life of your beloved.
This Big Love, given and received gracefully.
It's what we all deserve.

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