This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP (Man In Progress). After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life, one of those aspects was my romantic relationships. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one, we inevitably have to improve the other.
“Too much is lost in waiting for someone else to tell us that what moves us is real.”
– Mark Nepo
Falling in love is a strange thing.
I remember when I first fell in love, really truly in love, I knew it. I knew it to the core of my being. I knew I had found my soul mate. I knew that we were meant to meet. I knew that the circumstances in which we got to know each other were too unlikely, too uncanny for this not to be so. I knew that the quickness in which it all happened also meant something. I knew that the feeling of comfort with him also meant something.
The problem was that, as absolutely sure I was that I had fallen in love—and that he was the one—no one else could verify this for me. There was no “certification process.” No way I could get the signature of some “love notary.”
The inability to get some sort of universally accepted confirmation is incredibly frustrating for a person who has just fallen in love.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were some sort of “coroner for the living”? Except that, instead of declaring you alive, he would check you out to see if you were really in love? If this Coroner of The Living was able to verify your love, he could go to all your friends and family and say: “Yup, these two are in love, and its real!” The whole room would sigh in relief and clap, and no one would have to doubt it anymore (or worry that the whole thing might end in shambles).
But no such “True Love Notary,” or “Coroner Of The Living,” exists. No, all of us, the ones who are in love, and the ones who have been in love, have only to rely on our truth. We are left to accept that what moves us is real, even though no one else around us can verify it for us.
What Makes Love Real
What is “real love” ?
I wish I could tell you for sure.
All I can say, with great certainty, is that it involves no abuse: if you are being physically, emotionally, or psychologically abused then that is not true love. That is hate disgusted as love. There also has to be solid base of mutual respect and trust and, obviously, shared values and a willingness to communicate. Finally, there has to be willingness, on both sides, to let the other person free—to let them grow and change.
But besides those fundamentals, who can really know what love is? How can one really describe it? So many countless songs, books, poems and movies have all tried to depict love—and yet none of them have ever come close to verifying love’s reality!
Even today, after millions of millions of songs have been written on the subject—people are still doubtful that love is real.
“Does love exist? And if it does, will I ever find it?”
Such is the strangeness of love. You can never really know it until you feel it for yourself; but even when you know you are in love, you have a hard time explaining it, defending it, and verifying it to everyone else.
This is why declaring our love requires a bit of courage.
Back Then. Years Ago. When I Fell In Love.
When I fell in love a while back then, years ago, I knew it was real.
But I didn’t have the courage to defend it as real.
Instead, I listened to what other people told me about my love. I wrongly assumed that others could help me “verify” my love’s reality. I had gotten so lost in others theories and beliefs about what had gone on with my love that I ended up on the other side of it: convinced that the relationship had mean nothing, that it was a fling, just puppy love, just something I had invented, a figment of my imagination—a passing infatuation.
Basically, I had convinced myself that my love wasn’t real.
So, I became what I thought I was. (I actually wrote that last sentence incorrectly, meaning to write something like: “So, I became someone I wasn’t.” But now I realize that the mistake is accurate: I did become who I thought I was.) I thought I was the guy who never fell in love. Who never really had a true love story. Sure, he had flings or short-lived kerfuffles with the wrong guy, but he never really felt love.
No, not for real. Not ever.
But that was a lie. A lie I told myself because I wasn’t courageous enough to defend my own reality.
And what was my reality?
Just like I had fallen in love with my novel, I had fallen in love with this beautiful man.
But even though I was courageous enough to fight for my novel, I wasn’t courageous enough to fight for this man.
I wasn’t courageous enough to fight for true love.
Turns Out That Wasn’t The End of The Love Story
About a year ago, a friend of mine brought up this old love of mine. I wasn’t expecting it, so before I knew, it all came rushing to the surface: suddenly, I found myself expressing to my friend that being with this old love of mine was the happiness time in my life.
Shocked by this revelation, I quickly tried to cover it up by lying and saying to my friend: “But I don’t feel the same way about him. Of course. I’ve moved on.”
It took me a long time before I realized that I had lied to my friend. In fact, it took a whole year to realize that I had lied to him. (Why has it taken me so long to see what was right in front of my nose?)
Months ago, I shared with you that I was ready to open my heart to whatever came my way. I swear, I made no exceptions: that’s what opening you heart to love means. You open yourself up to all possibilities—all channels in which love could enter. If you open your heart to everything, you must open your heart to everything.
But I did not expect, I could not expect—I would have never anticipated—that I would open myself up to realizing that I already had fallen in love.
I wasn’t really waiting for love to come to me and appear in my life. Love had already come to me, years ago, and really, I was only waiting on me to have the courage to finally fight for this love.
Turns out that I wasn’t waiting for my love story to begin. I was still in the middle of a love story that hadn’t finished yet.
Oops. I Did It Again.
Now that I’ve come across this new revelation, I really don’t know what to do with it.
All I can think to do is act the way I did when I finally realized that I was in love my novel.
One day, I just said:
“Frak everybody else who doubts me, misunderstands me, or doesn’t like me changing my mind: I’m going to create this darn thing!”
And now, with my romantic life, I am taking the same approach. I am about to attempt the impossible. I’m about to finally take a bold move.
Now the only question left is this one:
“How the hell am I gonna win him back?”
What Moves You Is Real
This whole experience has taught me a very important lesson, and now I would like to share this lesson with you. It is probably one of the most important lessons I will ever teach you, because it’s going to save you a whole lot of time and energy.
Here’s the lesson:
What moves you is real.
I repeat: what moves you is real. Whatever that may be: be it your passion for your work, your penchant for sweaters, your love of biking, your obsession with The Big Bang Theory (even though I personally do not understand it), or your true love, whatever.
Do not look for some sort of external certification process to test whether what moves you is real. Do not look to others to tell you that what moves you is real, because, often, other people will doubt it.
That is because what moves you was not meant to be real for them. It was meant to be real for you.
No one owns your reality. Only you do.
So don’t wait for others to prove to you that what moves you today is real. What moves you today is real.
What is more: what moves you is not only real, but it is the only thing worth fighting for.
much real love,
Today’s Courage Exercise
Repeat this phrase all throughout your day:
“What moves me is real.”
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