I’m not a wise man by any means. My life often seems like a complete mess in fact. So, take what I say with whatever grain of idioms you choose.
BUT…I have come to learn a few lessons over the years and perhaps the hardest one is about love.
It’s impossible to demand love or affection. There have been so many times I’ve felt betrayed and resentful towards someone because I felt I had earned their devotion. Damn it, I did everything I was supposed to do. Why don’t they love me back?!
In reality I didn’t always do everything I was supposed to and that begins with acknowledging that people get a say in the matter. I don’t get to decide for them. And maybe, just maybe, I did all I did with a motive beyond genuine love.
Maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe we shouldn’t do things to get something.
It always seemed that the more “justified” i felt in having earned someone’s affection. The greater my sense of entitlement the further that person pulled away from me. The tighter I clung, the more vicious their resistance.
I see this with parents a lot too…I guess being one I’ve begun to notice it. The family will be in a mall and one of the parents is yanking on the kid, demanding a kiss or a smile, trying to take a photo or whatever. It’s awkward for sure and a little sad when I think about it too long.
No matter the type of relationship, we shouldn’t demand love or affection from anyone. We should aspire to receive it, cherish it when we do, and self-assess when we don’t.
No one is entitled to a kiss from that guy or girl they’re in love with. You can’t force that crush of yours to feel the same way about you. You can’t force your kid to want to cuddle. You can’t even force your boss to respect you.
It’s perhaps been the hardest and most awful feeling I’ve endured…that feeling of wanting someone to love me back, to want to kiss me, to want me the way I wanted them to only be denied. Sitting in that filthy resentment, confusion, and loneliness is crippling.
Try not to end up there.
At some point I suppose we just have to learn to do the whole “letting go” thing. At some point we have to accept that others really do have a choice in the matter. At some point we have to realize that the more we force ourselves upon someone, the more we demand, the less likely we’ll ever receive what I think we all want and need most: to be loved…and to have our love validated.
Use whatever fable or song lyric or idiom you want to express this sentiment.
There are tons.
In this moment though, I shall quote a classic from my Deepwater Elementary School music class:
Love is like a magic penny
Hold it tight and you won’t have any
Spend it, lend it, and you’l have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor
– Malvina Reynolds
Relationships are hard. They’re the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. I’m no good at them…even with my son who seems to adore me, I find the concept of fatherhood and my relationship with him to be so complex. I’m never quite sure if I’m “doing it right.” Yet, it seems so counter-intuitive. It seems, at least superficially, that it should be quite simple. I love my son, he should love me. But things are never really that easy are they? Though…perhaps they are.
Like I said, I’m not a wise man.
I know I didn’t “do it right” with pretty much any of my friendships and attempts at romantic love through the years…and that’s part of life and all that jazz….the “Wonder Years” or whatever. But the failures hang heavy on my soul and lay the foundation for everything I am and will be…sometimes in a healthy way and sometimes, I guess, not so much.
But if you take anything away from what I write, let it be this: be ok with yourself and be willing to work for love. The kind you get when you force someone’s hand is never real. I’ve been told “I love you” plenty of times in life and at this point I can look back and know when someone meant it and when they said it because I expected it or because they thought I needed to hear it or because they didn’t know what else to say.
When I hear Young Master Oliver say “I love you Dad” I KNOW it’s real. There’s no confusing it.
Anyway, let’s turn on some Ramones or something…seems a little thick and heavy in here….all this talk about love and whatnot. haha
Until Next Time….
Be Well and Kind,