For countless reasons, there are things I just can never, and will never share here on the public forum. Try as I may have to compartmentalize all the various pieces of my life, over the past year they have definitely managed to morph into one persona - me. The real me. And, sorry not sorry, I just need to keep some things private, as my *audience* is no longer restricted to the tiny little sector of Catholic Women with Infertility.
That said, know that my last post was shared to shed light on what things are like for a newly annulled Catholic woman who first began to wade into the intimi-dating waters... months ago.
Today, things look a bit different. And in true TCIE fashion, it's hard, it's daunting, and it's a challenge I welcome and run into like a stubborn toddler, learning the hard lessons as I go. Hopefully with less tantrums this time around.
But it occurred to me that there is a big topic that relates to my dating life and personal relationships, that I have never written about before, even though I have thought about it and ascribed to the idea, myself, for decades. And so I'd like to write about it, now.
That is, the way I define love vs. in love.
Contrary to pop culture, media, and perhaps the majority of society, I have from a young age seen the two as clearly distinct, not necessarily connected. Of course as a young girl, I wanted nothing more than to experience the feelings of being "in love," and would form hopeless crush after hopeless crush, thinking I was in love in each instance. Until it finally happened when I was 18.
Oh, what wonderful, addictive, chemically-potent feelings of falling in love when it's the 'real thing'! I was in love with being in love, not JUST with the guy on the receiving end! And I'm certainly not knocking the experience - it was exhilarating! And when it happened for real? I knew that love would follow...
I had in my mind grasped the fact that love was a choice, even as a teenager. I also had an understanding that love was long-lasting whereas "in love" could fade in time. Basically it became a very well-defined distinction between FEELINGS (in love) and ACTION (love as a verb, as doing for the other, as reciprocating).
And I think, in my youth, I was mostly right. I just didn't yet know that there was an even larger component to that 'active love' but I would certainly be schooled in it as time went on...
So, my first real experience of being in love ended with a crash, in true subtle, ill-defined, non-communicative fashion, where it wasn't ever really understood if we were on a break or broken up, as we kept up the romantic communication an ocean apart... but with distance and time, and no prospect of ever experiencing the real, active love with him, the feelings of in love did indeed fade.
And in the aftermath of those awful feelings, I made the choice - to CHOOSE the choice, of love. To forgo the whole "in love" thing, since it wasn't real, anyway. Who needs feelings when you can rely on God and choose to actively LOVE another one of His children in serving their needs?
And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I entered into a civil marriage.
No, I was never in love with him. But I will never, ever deny that I loved him. I loved him until it broke me, and then all the little crumbled pieces of me loved him even more. And it was in the midst of that love that I began to understand that real love is sacrifice.
As I began to suspect, and then those suspicions were confirmed, that the love was purely sacrificial and one-sided and NOT Sacramental or valid, my education on what love is continued to deepen. Oh yes, I still love the father of my child, but not at all in the same way, as it became clear part of my sacrifices were sacrificing my own soul in cooperating in sin. And over the coming year, and months, and even to this day, I become more and more in-tuned to what that definition of love is.
So, it is clear that I wish to love, again. But, I *can* love anybody ;) When I said this to my therapist a few months ago, he nodded and said, "Oh, I believe that. You could love a criminal in prison!" (Not sure if that was a compliment... haha.) But more importantly through my self-discovery over the past year+, I know now that I want to allow myself to fall "in love" again. It was the fear of getting hurt, and my avoidance of that, which lead to a love that kept me stuck in place. It is time to set aside that fear and allow myself to go there, again. To fall in love.
I just hope I remember how...