We don't realize, when we're young, how terrifying and precarious love really is. We don't understand how love is not just a fluttery, amazing thing that happens, but it's a choice, work, sacrifice. And we certainly don't know that love is not a guarantee. Love does not guarantee our happiness, it does not guarantee reciprocity, and love makes no lifetime guarantee.
Maybe if you marry a little older, if you've been in relationships and seen more of the world, you come to understand this before I did. I married the first boy I dated, and while he was not the only boy I'd ever liked, crushes aren't love. Crushes are to love what artificial blueberries are to picking blueberries fresh from the farm. It gives you an idea, and maybe it tastes realistic, but it's often disappointing and once you've had the real thing, you know.
We lose things we love to death, to misunderstandings, to apathy, and who knows how many other ways. It hurts to lose what we love, when it's taken from us without our permission. I've lost animals, family members, and friends. Every loss feels a little different, but no less painful. When you love, that's a part of your life that is, to some degree, beyond your control.
I love this little dog who is snoring on the couch next to me. I give her a kiss on the head and tell her that every morning. I take her outside and stand with her in the cold so she can go to the bathroom, and I make sure she's got food that she can eat, and I toss her favorite toys around so she can play. I do all of this, understanding that I love her more than she loves me. I believe she loves me in her own capacity, that I'm as much a companion to her as she is to me and I'm more than just the proverbial hand that feeds her. When the day comes and I eventually lose her, I will be devastated...but I know this, and still I'm compelled to love her.
But more often than not, we love humans, and we hope that they will love us back. But we can't make them love us, and chances are, our love for each other is always unequal. Love can drive us crazy. Being as socializing has never been my strong suit, I'm always afraid of smothering people when I think they're awesome - so I do the complete opposite and hardly talk to them. Then I'm saddened when either no real friendship forms, or it's a very distant friendship. People probably think I don't care, when the truth is, I'm afraid of being rejected. Our own flaws can make love difficult.
I'm not a jealous person in my marriage to Matt. For him to hang out with some of our friends who are women, or collaborate on a music project with a woman, doesn't bother me, because as I might say with a shrug, "We're married." Marrying Matt was a security blanket for me, it was my guarantee that he would love me unconditionally. But when a couple of friends broke up, and I didn't see it coming, it made me realize that just because I think he'll love me forever, doesn't mean that he will. This idea had never really occurred to me. I realize that just because I love him, I can't control whether he loves me back. That's a really strange thing when I've just assumed that it's Matty n Me forever. Oddly enough, it hasn't made me super paranoid or anything. Instead, it's made me appreciate things a little more. He doesn't -have- to love me, so if he does, wow, that's really something.
Love is not nearly as simple as we think of when we're younger. In every form, whether it be our friends, family, children, pets, spouses - anyone we love - our humanity makes it complicated. It makes it painful. Hopefully, most of the time, love is worth that cost.