I want to grow old and be like my parents. September is their anniversary month and after 36 years of being married they still have the eyes for each other, constantly caring and annoying one another with their little peculiars yet always ending everything with a huge smile and back to holding each other hands, patting each other back and sharing their favorite cup of black, no-sugar Americano. They showed me Love. The kind of love that extends beyond the early stage romance, butterflies and infatuations.
Being in my mid-thirties, marriage, love and relationship has always been a theme in my life for the past years, with my friends and people around me, yours truly included – coming up with their own versions of love stories, infatuations, maddening crush and sleepless nights spent dreaming of a frog and the Prince. Though the pretty pictures are also sometimes colored with tears, break-ups, disappointments and those frogs who apparently refused to turn into a Prince Charming. Everyone seems to be searching for the kind of love that feeds the heart and nourish the soul, the kind of love and romance that will bring life to those lingering dreams and visions.
With all this hype and love energy around, constantly coming up during a dinner conversation, a walk in the shopping mall and even during my time at a yoga retreat and Indian Ashram, I too could not help to take a moment and think of what I want in life. How I want my life and love to be.
I was raised to be a strong and independent young woman. One who has the strength to stand on her own two feet and to never depend on others. To have dreams, ambitions and persistence to go for things I believe in. My father believes strongly that his only daughter should be raised just like his two boys, and being the eldest actually put more pressure on me growing up. Everything has to be perfectly planned and I have to execute the plan seamlessly. Failure is a word that doesn’t exist in my dictionary, shaping my personality into a stubborn perfectionist with a control freak tendency, mostly because of my need for approval and because I never want to disappoint my parents. It was a really “tough” world, and one that shaped me into a somewhat “distance” person with slight inability to be emotionally attached to anyone, including my own self. All the years growing up I have convinced myself that I can do things myself and not needing any help. Creating a wall of endless defenses and back up plans while trying to take full control of my life, never knowing the real meaning of the word “surrender”.
Struggling to keep my strength and independence doesn’t mean that I do not appreciate love and romance. After all, even a warrior has a soft side. Although back then I never really understood the difference of being in love vs being in love with the idea of love and romance. I think I was mostly the later. I like the idea of love, but when it comes to be in love, I am not so sure I knew how to. The nature of always wanting to be free, to do things in my own way and my own time, may somehow complicates my past relationships even more. I have a hard time relying on others out of fear of being the “weak” one and probably an equally difficult time in making a commitment, fearing that I will loose my freedom and my independence. But off course, this doesn’t stop me from trying. After all, one way to know myself and what I truly want is to try, make mistake and then try again while being aware of the mistakes I made in the past.
On one of my trip to India a few years ago, I was talking to my then best friend ( now life partner ) and he said “You should do something, or not do something, so that I can feel useful and needed”. It could be a joke, but his words sunk deeper to my thoughts than I am sure both he and I intended too. How to make others feel needed? And why is it so important? Is it “weak” to need someone?
To need someone, in my understanding, is to allow yourself to be the object of someone’s care. In a way it makes us more vulnerable because we are giving up some control and allowing others to come in and help us do things we are so accustomed to do ourselves, in our own way, in our own time. It is a lesson in surrender, and also in acceptance. It is a chance for us to soften up and to actually appreciate the effort given by others, no matter how small. After all, learning to be the object of love and affection when you are so accustomed to being emotionally independent is not as easy as or as pleasant as it sound. Everyone likes the idea of being the center of someone’s universe. The question is, do we have the ability to be one? The person may come into our life, ready to swept us off our feet, but if we are not willing or ready to be swept, nothing is really gonna happen other than strings of fear, insecurities and disappointment.
Most of the time, we are so used to giving love, care and affection that sometimes we forget to open our heart to receiving. More so because when we are giving, we don’t expose ourself so much as the control is within us. How much we are willing to give, how much we are willing to reveal. But to receive, we have to allow a certain amount of vulnerability and exposures. Of showing what we need, what we want, and what we desire. To express our feeling, to open up and allows the other person to come in, take care of us and to love us. To show the world that we actually need someone else in our life to make it even more complete.
Romance and infatuations are there to remind us of the feeling, the excitement, to force us to open up to possibilities because we can’t escape the intensity, we don’t want to escape, we can’t help but falling in love and feel the mind being numb. It is the first step that softens us up. The heart is on the winning side and all of the sudden all logic and reasons are no where to be found. The belly is constantly full of butterflies and we can’t stop seeing those twinkling eyes and cheeky smiles all over the place. But once the butterflies are gone, can we keep the eyes twinkling and the heart leaping? Can we keep smiling and continuously be loving? To accept that love still exist even after the rainbows are gone and the days are sometimes blue? To accept that being in love also means that we have to be ready to loose it and allow it to transform us and our relationship? To be aware of our fear and insecurities without raising our defense wall, at the same time keeping our heart open and soft? To not grow bitter and cynical, to never giving up on love.
Throughout the years, through many encounters and relationships, I believe that love in the most beautiful form should be simple, comfortable and homey. It is a place where I can grow up and old knowing that my best friend, who I choose to be with every single day of my life, will always hold my hands and won’t let it go even when things are not always in the color of the rainbows. To have a home for the heart to rest and finally be free. To surrender to uncertainties, without ever losing the softness of the heart. Because you can feel when your heart is hardening, and you know that it is the moment when you cannot love. And to loose the ability to love when you have a truly wonderful person next to you, is a very cold and lonely place to be.
True love will make us a better person, cause to be truly loved is to be allowed to be ourself, to have all the freedom to express our inner inhibition and be totally free.. True love will embrace us, without having the need to change us. To allow us to surrender, be soft and be truly in love.
Helsinki, 17 August 2017