Is This Love?

Is This Love?
Photo by Alexandru Acea / Unsplash

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The first time I thought I was in love, I was 13. The second time I thought I was in love, I was still 13. It was probably three months after I’d stopped speaking to the first guy I thought I loved.

My second love, that was the one that stuck. You couldn’t tell me that it wasn’t the real deal. I remember going to school and telling a teacher, Ms. Outerbridge, the typical young teacher you felt was your friend, about how I was in love. I gushed about all the funny stuff he’d done, all of our time together, all of our future plans for when we were older. Ms. Outerbridge looked at me, rolled her eyes and said, “girl, you are not in love.”

She didn’t know what she was talking about and I was sure she didn’t. It’s laughable to think that I, an inexperienced 13 year old, thought I knew more about love than a grown ass woman who was engaged to be married. But I was sure I was in love and sure she didn’t understand. It was years before I realised that Ms. Outerbridge was right. I wasn’t in love and didn’t even know what love was.

At 13, I thought love was synonymous with wanting to be with someone all the time. I thought it meant doing everything you could to keep a person happy. And in return, that person should do everything they can to keep you happy. Being in love meant that it was my job to make sure that you were operating at your full potential. My views of love were eerily similar to the signs of codependency.

I don’t know how that became my definition of love but that’s the definition I carried with me for a long time. For me, love was an obligatory thing. If I had a boyfriend, or someone I’d even liked, I had to love them and I needed that love to be reciprocated. I’d force it if I had to, fight for it like my life depended on it. I wasn’t willing to let it grow naturally or even accept that it may not happen. We had to be in love and the sooner the better.

By the time I was 25, I’d been in love at least four times. Plus, there were about three other men I slightly loved, which doesn’t even make sense because you can’t slightly love anyone. You either love them or you don’t. I later realised I wasn't in love with any of them.

Love has always been sold to us as a magical thing that can transcend any and everything, fill every void and ease every pain. It’s filled with laughter, fireworks and endless happy moments and if you don’t have love, it sucks to be you. For sure love is a beautiful thing and that it can be exciting. And it most definitely should be something that brings you happiness. I think love is what your left with once all of the fireworks and intensity is gone, love is what’s left when your just existing.

Journal prompt: What do you think your earliest experience of love is? How did that experience positively or negatively impact you?

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