Once, in a fit of outrage and confusion, blubbering and screaming in a fashion that jilted, heartbroken people sometimes do, I sought an explanation from a friend. I thought, “He is the smartest person I know. His is an opinion that I respect more than I can say. If anyone on Earth has the answers … it will be him.” Through tears and hyperventilation I demanded to know: “What in the hell is so goddamned scary about letting someone love you?!” His reply was simply this: “The fear of letting that person down.”
I am a Gemini. Some say Gemini is the sign of “dual personality.” (That’s a nice way of saying “freaken ‘schitzo.”) In my case, I guess there is a deep truth to the idea of duality, at least in some ways. If I were meeting someone for the first time, I would describe myself as “intensely private.” It’s true. Those of you who know me, and those of you who are reading this blog regularly… stop giggling! The fact is that I can be a very guarded and reserved person. I’ve been accused of being outright snobby at times. I would say that aspect of me comes into play over the idea of anyone being “in my business” so to speak.
But the other side of me is totally the opposite. If you were to ask any of my closest friends what my biggest personality flaw is, they’d probably tell you that I wear my heart on my sleeve entirely too much. That I say too much, share too much, and that I don’t guard my heart at all. That I leave myself open to getting incredibly hurt, and, often times that is the exact result. I admit, there are times when I open my emotional veins and bleed out to someone and I would venture to guess that this is why people sometimes find me “scary,” or “intimidating,” or just “too much.”
I have told many, many people that with me, they will never get bullshit. I honestly believe that life is too short to hold back. The last thing I would ever want in my life is to have held back from someone, and then find that I could never speak to them again. Never tell them what I felt. I suppose most people know what I mean by that. For me, though, this extreme need to be open and honest is deeper than your average never-go-to-bed-angry theory. For me, the idea of holding back what’s really inside of me feels like playing games with another person’s head, and I refuse to do that. That’s not to say I have no tact. I wouldn’t walk up to a friend and say something mean and hurtful; that’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I’m talking about is the expression of emotion. I’m talking about telling people what you treasure about them. I’m talking about expressing love, respect, admiration, and passion for someone. While that may not seem like such an out of the ordinary thing, it seems that when I do it, I’m perhaps a little more over the top than people are comfortable with. It also seems that when it comes to loving people, my deep-end is maybe a little deeper than some are willing to swim. I would describe myself as a passionate person. Others describe me as “scary as hell.”
I guess that’s what my friend meant. It seems to me, lately anyway, that there are people who literally feel burdened by the love of others. Like it’s a responsibility; like it’s something they have to live up to. Like being loved is some emotional birthday present, and when it comes time to reciprocate, they aren’t sure they can afford to match what was spent on them. And here’s where being loved by ME gets really scary. See, I won’t tell anyone that I love them unless I honestly, truly love them. What does that mean? It means:
Unless I can accept a person for exactly who they are, flaws and all, faults and all, quirks and all, then I will not tell them I love them. And… if I tell them I love them, although I’m still capable of being angry with them or being disappointed in them, I will still love them even if something should force one or both of us to walk away. And if I walk away, or if they walk away from me, I will still love them.
This applies to everyone; relatives, friends, lovers, little green men from space and pink elephants. So why is that so scary? Well, evidently because most people are used to getting lied to and screwed over. It seems that most people are used to the word “love” being handed to them like a tissue, to be used and disposed of. They are accustomed to people saying it and not meaning it. They expect to be disappointed. They expect to be hurt. They expect to be treated as though they’re loved for a little while, and then kicked like a tin can. When they hear it from ME, at first, it’s great. But, then the words, the meaning behind them, the truth of that love all become crystal clear and undeniably real… and it gets heavy. It shines like a diamond and they wonder how costly it’s going to be? They test it; perhaps it’s only a cubic zirconium! When it cuts glass, though, some find that they can’t write an emotional check that big, not that I’ve ever asked them to.
So what happens to me? ME, with my big red velvet heart embroidered on my sleeve, bleeding love into the streets like some overly-sentimental idiot? Well, as I said… often times I get hurt. And here’s where my friends tend to really get pissed off, both for me, and at me. When I love someone, and they hurt me, I refuse to hate. I refuse to seek revenge. I refuse to become hardened and soured on love. I insist on forgiving. There are times when, hurt as I may be, I will even love deeper. “Why?!” they demand to know, “Why are you telling this person it’s ok to have hurt you?! Dammit, protect yourself!” But you see… that’s just it. It doesn’t matter one way or the other what that person does or doesn’t know. If I love them 20,000 leagues deep then that will be the depth of my hurt, regardless if I tell them I still love them or not, my hurt remains the same. There is no “protecting myself” from that hurt.
And why forgive? Why love deeper? Why not let the anger phase of grief settle into your marrow and harden you into stone? Well, I’ve tried that, to be completely honest. I’m not exactly sure why, but it just doesn’t ever set. I may burn with rage and fury for a while, but ultimately, (and sometimes, unfortunately for me) love tends to conquer all. It may change; it may turn from a love that I felt for a lover to the love that I feel for a friend. But it will always be there. I can’t change it. I can’t make it go away, and I can’t hold it back. I believe that anyone I love is worthy of it. Worthy of having that love, worthy of respect, worthy of admiration, and, as such, I will tell them so. If that’s scary, well… then I will always be the scariest woman alive.
Life is too short. I have said it a thousand times and I will say it a thousand more. If you love, then love with everything you have and if you get hurt, well, that’s part of life and you cannot hide from it. Ah, yes… time for a cliché. If a tree falls in the woods, and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a noise? If I can judge by heartache, then yes, it does make a noise. Because no matter what I say to you, if I love you, and you hurt me, but you don’t know the extent of my hurt, I’m hurt just the same. There is no protecting ourselves from that hurt. But a life without love… might as well not be a life. So LOVE BIG. Love strong. Love unconditional and don’t fear heartbreak. Hearts heal. I promise you. Mine has, and I will love again.
Meanwhile, I will proudly continue to wear my heart on my sleeve, just as Laverne wore that 'L' on her lapel.