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On Saying “I Love You” To The Wrong People

August 5, 2011

For as abrasive and hostile as many of my coworkers will tell you I am, there is an irritating tendency of the people who actually get to know me declaring me as one of the nicest, sweetest people they know. I tend to get very irritated when these statements get made because it is much easier to be abrasive and hostile than to be a nice person. Nice people get taken advantage of. Nice people are vulnerable to the cruelties of others. Nice people are always expected to be nice and supportive and happy, they don’t get the privilege of having bad days.

All that being said, I am a very kindhearted person. Well, honestly, I’m a giver and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I will put myself out every time if it involves doing something to make someone else happy. I will give all of myself to the people I care about, then silently hurt when I get little or nothing back. For some reason, I keep giving myself to the wrong people. One of my best friends asked me once if I was in love with the idea of being in love and it took me a long time to answer the question honestly without being defensive about it. Who isn’t in love with the idea of being in love? The problem is, what we define as love is based off the fairy-tale romance ideal that is realistically only the infatuation stage of love and will fade in it’s brilliant intensity with time. “And they all lived happily ever after” is a vague way to end a story on a high note. One of my favorite fairy tale adaptations comes from the movie “Ever After”. When the narrator states that it wasn’t that they lived happily ever after, what was important was that they lived; it sort of hit the nail on the head the reality behind the fantasy, for me. Love and relationships aren’t all rainbows and sunshine, they require work.

How does this tie to me saying “I love you” to the wrong people? Well, I’ve spent a lot of my life to date chasing the fairy tale. I want to be swept off my feet by a man who is a perfect match for me and ride off into the sunset of happily ever after. Love is a feeling, right? Love makes everything else in life worth it, right? I thought I knew what I was talking about, how love was supposed to feel and be. I wasted years “falling” in and out of “love” with people who were terrible matches for me in reality, but in the high of infatuation were perfect and no soul on earth could convince me otherwise. I poured myself out to people I felt connections with, who said and did just enough of the right things to get me hooked. I forgave too easily and too often for truly heinous behavior. I let myself slip away as I wasted time in relationships because I didn’t want to hurt the other person or wanted to let him down easily. I fell for the broken, the abusive, the emotionally unavailable. I took physical, mental and emotional beatings from the truths behind the faux perfection. I continued saying “I love you” to people who could not or would not say it in return, or would say it even when they actively were demonstrating their words to be lies. I told people I loved them because they said it to me and I felt obligated to return the sentiment, no matter if I actually felt the same way or not.

To this day, I still haven’t decided which is worse: non-reciprocation or verbal reciprocation with no follow through. I hate being the first one to say “I love you” because it leaves me in a hell of a state if the other person does not feel the same way. Yet I am the first to say it more times than not and unfortunately have been the only one to say it more times than I care to admit. The last few months have left me facing the very hard lesson that just because I continue to tell someone I love him does not mean that he is going to wake up one morning and realize that he feels the same way. Even if he did, I wonder if I would always have a piece of me that would never quite believe him because of his insistence that he doesn’t love me and honestly doesn’t know what love feels like.

It is very difficult for me to admit that I have spent several years wondering what love is, what it feels like and if I’ve ever actually felt the real McCoy. Dealing with depression and PTSD leaves one with a very skewed perception of emotions. I was initially diagnosed with both almost 13 years ago and never really understood how strongly they affected my reality until recently. Depression smothers positive emotions and being on anti-depressants can leave one a complete emotional zombie. I had often stated at the height of my depression that I wanted to feel nothing, because nothing was preferable to feeling “this”. But then I actually got to experience what nothing felt like. Celexa was a drug that saved me from the dark and twisted thoughts inside my own head. When situations would arise that normally triggered the downward spiral, I was blissfully ecstatic for the nothingness, the silence that became the new answer. The backswing was that normal positive emotions, like feeling love for my child, were also silent. I knew the things I should have been feeling and would become incredibly upset at the numbness I felt instead. Needless to say, I’m no longer on the drug.

I know now that love doesn’t eliminate the negative emotions. My biggest downfall was believing the illusion that love is somehow a cure-all pill. The truth is, life is going to continue to do as she does regardless of love. Just because I love someone or someone loves me does not mean that I am immune from frustrations, loneliness, heartache, sadness and every other emotion I felt before I loved this person. Love is a verb! Many gleefully proclaim, without understand what that actually means. We mistake romance for love, not understanding that while it is an important factor, it does not define the word. Love is about making a choice to always build up that person who is important to you into the best version of him/herself, according to Dr. Love. Love is demonstrated through the everyday actions, not just the big gestures that happen on socially established dates. Love is about being a blessing to someone to see him/her happy. Love is about giving of yourself in a way that builds both people in the relationship up. Love is sometimes going to hurt. Love is frustrating and difficult. Love takes work and investment. Love is about knowing someone’s flaws and accepting them. True love cannot come without truly knowing another person.

So even now, as I have been silently chafing about having said those three dreaded words to someone who has given me no response in kind when I’ve said it, I know that it doesn’t change the fact that I have that love in my heart. Just as your actions demonstrate what your true priorities are, so do they demonstrate who you genuinely love. Maybe I’m a fool for giving love while receiving nothing in return, but in fact, isn’t that the point of love?

Until next time,

From → Love, Relationships

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