Lessons From A 30 Year Old: Sometimes Love Isn't Enough
Not sure if I've mentioned it lately (I have, at least a hundred and twenty-seven times) but I'm 30 years old now.
And whilst that simultaneously scares the shit out of me and suprises me (how the hell am I already 30? I swear I was spewing up Cosmos at my 21st just the other week?) it also makes me realise I've come a long way.
Okay so I haven't perfected the "Art Of Adulting" quite yet but I've definitely learnt a few tough, important life lessons.
Life lessons which I now feel duty-bound to pass on to you, dear reader. If for no other reason than to maybe save you some of the hurt, heartbreak and humiliation I've already suffered. I want to prevent you from making the same mistakes I've made. I want to open your eyes to the truth, teach you the moral of the story without you having to endure the plot line. Remember being told to "Listen to your elders"? Well buckle up buddy because I'm 30 now and that makes me old.
In today's lesson, we're going to be discussing perhaps my favourite topic in life: love.
Now I should preface this little ditty by owning up to the fact that I am a true romantic. I have spent the better part of my life in relationships or chasing relationships or wanting relationships. I've stood on my soap box and fiercely protested that "all you need is love" and "love can conquer all" and of course, "love rewards the brave."
However, a tough life lesson I began learning a few years back but have only fully just grasped the concept of is: people won't always love you the way you want them to.
Heavy right? If you're reading this and sighing/nodding/crying, chances are, you've had your little heart broken recently. Join the club. I'll be making "Lonely Hearts Club" t-shirts for every member.
The truth is, you can love somebody with every fibre of your being. You can love them despite their (many) faults. You can love them even though you come from completely different backgrounds or have different belief systems or morals. You can love them even though your parents and family don't. You can love them even when your friends warn you they're bad news... but at the end of the day, you have zero control over how they feel about you.
Here is the one line I want you to take away from this blog: you cannot make somebody love you.
And I say this from experience. I say this, because I've tried.
I am the QUEEN of grand gestures. I once filled up an ex-boyfriend's bedroom with 10 red, loveheart helium balloons. One for every month we'd known each other.
I gave up everything, left everyone I loved including my family and moved interstate for a guy I thought was the love of my life.
I've created an apology mural on the street using multicoloured chalk. It lacked artistic ability but it was the thought that counted.
I've sent a bouquet of Nutella donuts with a card that said "Are you sure you donut want to date me?" to a guy I dated's work.
Hell, I once even reenacted the scene from Love Actually with the placards, on Christmas Eve no less. "To me, you are perfect."
Let me tell you right now...none of it works. Forget the Summer and Seth kissing booth scene in The OC or any of the movies that depict a last minute dash to the airport...If the person doesn't feel the same way, the grand gestures won't change their mind.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for fighting for what you believe in. I never let a relationship end without a fight. If a relationship is sinking, I want to go down knowing I did everything in my power to make it work.
But I think it's vital for self-preservation to be able realise and accept when a relationship is over. You can love someone, and still not be right for them, or they be right for you. It's devastating and confusing and all kinds of fucked up but it's true. And I'm sorry to be the one to burst your bubble if you thought otherwise.
Let me share with you one (of my many) own little anecdotes..
Just over a year or so ago I fell in love with a Born Again Christian. Now, if you knew me, you'd think that was the opening line of a joke. It's not. It actually happened.
And it all happened very quickly. To be honest, if I believed in love at first sight, then he would be the closest thing I've felt to it. We met on a Friday, by the following Wednesday we were dropping the L bomb. I called my Dad the day after meeting him and told him I'd met my future husband.
Now, most sane people would probably consider the fact that I'm an atheist as a bit of a relationship red flag when attempting to date a devout Christian. Not me! I just saw it as a small hurdle. Something we could conquer together, through love and understanding and open-mindedness! Everything was fine, we could do this. IT WAS ALL GOING TO WORK OUT, OKAY?
I decided to treat "Christianity" as just another subject I didn't know very much about, but something I would be more than happy to research. I like to think of myself as a pretty educated, well-rounded individual so thought it was probably about time I covered the basics of Jesus, Mary etc and added it to my repertoire of dinner party conversation topics.
I agreed to an hour or so of "Bible study" every week. I accepted his decision to want to abstain from sex (weirdly, that was easier than accepting his want to abstain from drinking alcohol, that succccckkkeeeddd). I even attended a Sunday night Hillsong session with him and, lucky for me, managed to pick a day where everybody was anointing everybody else. (For those who aren't across an anointing ceremony, let me tell you, it was mighty confronting.)
He spoke of marriage and babies and even moving to Tasmania for work and I was all in. 110%. Sign me up. Let's do this.
My friends were shocked. My Dad was concerned. "Don't throw yourself away for somebody else. Don't change who you are."
But it didn't matter, in the end. Because even though I was willing to accept him for all that he was, strict and contrasting belief system and all, even after all the sacrifices I was willing to make and comfort zones I was willing to throw myself out of....the tattoo I had gotten etched into my rib cage... he didn't want to be with me.
My love wasn't enough.
He couldn't love me the way I wanted him to.
And that was neither his, nor my fault. It was just a fact. A sad fact. A sad fact that broke my heart and left me devastated for a very long time but it was nobody's fault.
And whilst it didn't feel like it at the time, it was for the best.
You should never be with someone who tries to change you, or forces you to lose your identity. You should never be with someone who makes you feel insecure, anxious or inadequate.
Because the longer you waste on those bozos, the longer you're unavailable to meet the right person. Your person. And I promise you, I PROMISE you, they are out there.
Patiently waiting for you. With balloons and rainbow chalk and donuts.
"Fight hard and fiercely for the person you love, but after a point, for the good and peace of your own heart, you must learn to concede defeat and withdraw, to recognise clearly when the war you are bleeding for has already been fought and lost." - Beau Taplin, 'The Long War'.