Love is a Battlefield

I’m single. In fact, I’m becoming more and more convinced that my particular case is terminal. The evidence weighs it out. I haven’t been in a serious relationship in over ten years and haven’t had a date in right around five years. Yeah. Poke me with a fork, people. I’d say I’m pretty much done.

And while the fact that I’m single makes me wish a pox upon the particular consumer-driven holiday that’s nearly upon us, it doesn’t mean that I’m not loved and that I don’t love madly in return.

Recently, I got to spend a couple of hours talking with a friend. As usual, I was gushing about how much I love a mutual friend of ours. I didn’t really expect a response, but the one I got was not what I expected. He stopped my gush and asked, “Why?”

Wait. What?

My friend wasn’t disagreeing with me. He was just curious. But I was a bit flummoxed. When was the last time I had stopped to think about why I love someone? Even more, when was the last time I stopped to tell someone why I love them?

I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked when a bit later in the conversation, when I told my friend how proud I am of him, he asked, “Why?” Only slightly less flummoxed, I proceeded to tell him, and I hope, encourage him.

Why was I so taken aback at my friend’s curiosity? I think I’ve gotten so used to hiding my feelings behind telephone lines and computer screens that when a person is looking into my eyes, asking me questions, I almost don’t know how to respond. I’d forgotten how much safety and comfort I’ve found in distance. But that’s not the only reason I was taken aback.

I consider myself to be a very loving person—and I am. But at the same time, I’ve gotten used to hiding my love, as though if I showed it, it could be used as a weapon against me.

Truly, at times, my love has been used as a weapon against me. There have been people in my life—back almost as long as I can remember—that have taken the love I’ve given them and have used it to manipulate me or punish me. There have been people that have taken all that I had to give and then kept demanding more and more, until I was all gone and empty and used up. I’ve been poured out, stomped on, and kicked aside. I’ve been neglected and ignored. I’ve been disrespected and disregarded. I’ve been merely tolerated and then pushed away.

So, how do I still find the capacity to love?

Some days, I barely have the energy to get out of bed. Oh, it’s not that I’ve been mistreated more than anybody else. I think that perhaps, I’m just a tad more sensitive than some others. But at the end of the day, I love because I know that others need to be loved. I love because I know that there are others who haven’t been loved as much as I have. I love because I can’t do anything other than love. I just don’t have it in me to do anything else.

So, let me ask you, now. I’m sure you’ve been kicked around a little, too. How do you still find the capacity to love?

About Sarah Salter

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