The national celebration of all things love just passed. Confession time. I think the Valentine’s Day version of love is silly. Candy, chocolates, and flowers are fine and expected but it’s a dumbed down and shallow representation of love.
For the past year plus, love has been at the forefront of my mind. This year is both a mourning of love lost and celebration of love found. More on that later. Fortunately, my fiancé is in the same boat and understands. Our journey together has been equal parts rising up and falling down.
Individually, we are healing works in progress which makes for some interesting days. Separately, and together, we have been dealing with our respective losses and not always operating as our best selves as we move through.
Love is a Verb.
Despite those off days, we define love as an action and way of being. It is a verb, not a noun. How we are is love. Whatever that looks like. Love is just as much frustration, impatience, and some ugly moments as it is laughing, joyous, and tender ones. Love is also a choice. A decision. A commitment to work through individual flaws and patterns which negatively affect each other.
Reality teaches us both you cannot have one without the other. Yin and yang. History has shown life to be a mix of good and bad as well as a celebration of possibilities. It is hard to maintain your bearings when life has been turned upside down for whatever reason. Insert whatever difficulty may be playing out in your life here. There is where the work begins. Sorry. You saw this one coming right? How you navigate the waves determines the outcome. Off to work we go.
On a good day, moving forward looks effortless and feels light. But what happens when getting out of our own way proves to be a challenge? It happens daily. Love is work. Growing is work. Hi ho hi ho.
We are fortunate to have found one another as we limp along our way and continue to build a life together. Love is the glue that keeps us sane when one of us is losing their shit or triggered. Between the two of us we bring an entire plane full of baggage to the party and some of our suitcases really do not go well together. Our similarities mitigate our differences but love is our peacemaker.
Love is the thread that allows forgiveness and brings contrition when one of us forgets who we are and allows us to focus on what is possible while letting go of what was. Our brand of love is a safe place to land as well as a reinforced shelter to work through the anger, hurt, disappointment, and the many twists our lives have taken. Without this safety and security we would both be lost and consumed by our inner voice and internal garbage.
So why am I sharing all of this? In the spirit of truth and authenticity, what follows is my fearless act for the week and is dedicated to everyone who feels like they have to edit themselves for the sake of other people.
Writing this is hard. Beginning a relationship with someone new has been judged harshly by some in the beginning, myself included. What many do not know is that Yvette made me promise, immediately after hearing the bad news, that I would let someone love me. At the time I had no interest in discussing my future relationship status with my still alive wife.
She was serious. No further discussion until I promised. She was stubborn like that. I agreed after she threatened to haunt me if I planned on moping around the rest of my life. I just happened to have an opportunity to keep the promise sooner than expected.
In less than three weeks, “My Dawn” and I are getting married. Nineteen days to be exact. The whole shebang. A beautiful venue, amazing caterer, fantastic photographer, videographer, incredible DJ, and wedding planner type of wedding. We wrestled with the theme “Third time is the charm” but thought better of it.
Celebrating us privately is easy. Publicly, the shadow of relationships past creates hesitation. While not at the forefront of my mind most days, there are moments when I catch myself feeling conflicted. I question whether or not I am allowed to be happy and love again and if it diminishes what she and I had. Despite permission from her, I still guard myself from judgement.
My inner circle has reassured me it is what she wanted for me. My head knows this to be the truth, but my heart still needs convincing on tough days. I understand life goes on but it is different. The big wedding was my idea. Typically, I am not one to make a fuss, but I wanted this fuss. Our fuss. Finding her, falling in love, and sharing life together is worthy of a 72 person fuss.
Our paths crossed at just the right time and our journey is uniquely ours. My Dawn and I just work. As we move closer to our wedding day, we are mindful of the paths our lives have taken separately and are committed to bring out the best in each other.
Summoning the courage to trust, love, and heal is our primary goal every day. Even though the list of “do not play” songs for the DJ is longer than our request list, we are excited to be joined together officially. Our wedding is one way to show the world happiness after loss is possible as well as respecting the many forms love takes throughout a lifetime.
The ability to bounce back and keep moving forward is not a given for many. Digging deep and taking a long hard look at every angle and curve includes brutal honesty and squashing fear of what could happen or what other people may think. When things are rough, it is okay to rest a bit, but never give up.
As you maneuver through your own winding road do not be afraid to feel the hard things and admit when you are struggling. Resist the temptation to retreat and shrink down when choosing yourself and joy is not met with applause from everyone else.
A wedding is not necessary to begin the process of letting go of whatever hold the past, present, or future may have over you. No fear. Decide. Decide again and again. Be love. Be open to the possibilities and learn to be content with what is as you move toward what will be.
Remember that love, for yourself or another person, is the most important variable in the equation of peace. Embrace the truth about the impossibility of standing still and moving forward at the same time and let the healing begin.