I’ve been thinking about love this week.

That’s nothing new for me, of course; hey, my website has the word in the damn title, after all. But Valentine’s Day calls to mind a particular kind of amour.

It might sound strange, but my heart always leaps for joy when I see two people in love.

Happy couples remind me of the everyday courage, the everyday miracle, of finding someone to love and be loved by in return.

Of course, amidst a supermarket’s sea of plastic hearts, rash promises and red roses, I know that it’s not always this easy, this beautiful. People stay with partners as much through fear as through love, and I have known that pain in my past. Some people are biding their time until something, someone, better walks through their door. And some of us, oh, how many of us at one time or another, have given up the hope of finding love at all.

Ah, that kind of love: romantic love. She whispers to me most in the smallest hours of the night. Reclining on the cold side of the bed, she murmurs: tell me stories.

And so, I tell her stories.

I tell her of the times my heart leapt out of my chest, of a joy so immense it could not be held within my breast. I tell her of how I dared to dream, and saw each star trodden into the earth. I tell her of the hurt I must have caused, the wounds I lacked the understanding to prevent, the scars I carry so others may not bear them. I tell her of love more lost than won. I tell her of how love rang through me like the sweetest bell; and how, each time, each time, another found me wanting.

These and more are the stories I tell myself, about myself, about myself and love.

I recently learned that an ex spoke about me some 6 years after our brief relationship ended ‘very affectionately’; so affectionately that my name and the anecdote was remembered by this now mutual acquaintance over fifteen years later.

I was stunned.

I reconnected with someone who knew me at the time of the relationship, a time I had long forgotten. I say long forgotten; all I could remember were a dull ache and the fragments of a story which concluded, ‘.. and I caused great harm’. I recounted the above revelation to him.

He looked surprised, almost shocked. “I don’t understand,” he shook his head, disbelievingly, “how you could think you wouldn’t be remembered very affectionately..?”

The mind plays terrible tricks on the heart. I know my own has told me I am unworthy, I am unlovable, I am too much, I am not enough. It replays the stories I fear most, until my heart is trembling like a frightened child.

I hold myself with tenderness. Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong, I breathe. Of each painful story, I reply: Is that true? Is that kind?  I embrace myself with as much love as I can muster, connected to the many who share my fears. I sing of the love that does surround me, of the deep wellspring of love I find within. A quiet prayer. A lullaby. Hope.

It isn’t always easy. God, so it isn’t. I do it, anyway.

For I know this new love story will set me free.

What are the stories you tell yourself about love?

Photo Credit: Pablo

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