Sunday, December 6, 2009
Do we ever again love like the first time we fell in love? I think maybe some people do, but most of us never again love in a way that is so naive, so innocent. The first time we fall in love we give ourselves wholeheartedly without inhibitions. We've never had our hearts broken so we have no fear to hold us back. Because we lack this fear we allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable. Yes, first loves (like the loves that follow) are full of projections, expectations, and fantasies. But they are pure.
After we've known the pain of heartache we never love the same way again. We hold a part of ourselves back because we are afraid to open ourselves up again to the possibility of being hurt. We come to each new relationship with our emotional baggage, making it harder and harder to attain the intimacy we desire.
I've noticed that as I get older my romantic relationships seem to become more complicated. I certainly don't allow myself to get swept away by my emotions the way I used to. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing but often I find myself holding things in because of the fear I talked about earlier. It's sad because one of the things I want most in a relationship is to be able to openly share my thoughts and feelings and to have them validated and understood.
And of course it's not just my emotional baggage making things complicated. I've been in relationships with men who have known the pain of divorce, sometimes more than once. They've had the experience of embarking on a lifelong journey with someone they loved only to have the journey cut short. They've felt the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations and shattered dreams. They've been betrayed and are afraid to trust. They've vowed not to make the same mistakes they made in the past. But sometimes the "mistakes" weren't mistakes. Sometimes the only "mistake" they made was allowing themselves to love.
These are just reflections -- I don't have any answers or suggestions. I do, however, have hope that I can eventually (and perhaps gradually) sort through my emotional baggage and go on to establish a healthy relationship with another person who is able (and willing) to do the same.