I guess I should preface this blog post by saying that I’m still not really sure where it’s coming from – or for that matter on what note it’s going to end. A bit alarming and off putting some might say, but I often write some of my best work whilst in a state of following where the post leads me and not the other way around.
Over the past ten days I’ve been so tired and unsure where to focus my energy. I guess that could be attributed to one of the busiest Pride months I’ve had in years and all the amazing partners I got to work with. Or maybe it’s because I’m probably a smidge overdue for some time off away from work, and no offense, this all too. Nothing crazy, just like a week on a beach somewhere hot or exploring an international city with my thoughts and my husband. I’ve been making notes on paper and on my mobile device with ideas for this blog post and tonight I’m going to try and make sense of it all. So, let’s talk about love, shall we?
Had you asked me about the topic ten years ago, I would have probably written a cheesy fluff piece about true love, happily ever after, and though it would have felt nice to read it wouldn’t have landed in the same way I hope this one does. I’m here to talk about love in many forms, and how through loss and challenge, I have come to appreciate them all in a new way.
While I don’t consider myself “jaded” by any means, I definitely have a lot more lived experiences and wounds that have taught me what real love is and that the idea of “happily ever after” can ultimately set you up for disappointment. I am quite happy with who I am, and what I’ve lived. But it’s okay to point out that the problematic portrayal of love in the world isn’t exactly real anymore.
Love is messy. And boy oh boy does it have a lot of different iterations to be experienced, cherished, and ultimately lost. So here’s a few that I can speak to personally.
These used to be, and in some ways can still be, some of my favourite love experiences. For me the topic reminds me of first loves. I still remember my first boyfriend and the butterflies he gave me. The first time I kissed a boy. The first time I had sex. The first time a boy that took me on a date. The excitement of every first date I’ve ever had. The excitement of not knowing if something exists between you and someone romantically and / or physically. While I don’t often experience innocent love anymore, I do love witnessing it because it reminds me of what that felt like.
I think it’s why so many of us can still have that “awe” moment when we see it too. Because it reminds us of easier moments and memories before love got complicated. It’s why (in my opinion) we love a good rom com or the idea of a Disney movie. Hope is a beautiful thing after all, even if it’s not always long lived in real life. But this is such a beautiful expression of love and something I wish everyone can experience at least a handful of times in their lives.
That sounds a lot more intense than it needs to be, but I couldn’t think of another term. I liken this type of love to what I’m living right now. I have sacrificed something for my future children because it was the only way to make our family happen in a realistic amount of time. I endure something difficult (the long distance and the chaotic mess that comes along with it) in the name of love because I whole heartedly believe that the sacrifice and discomfort I am living will be worth the happiness it brings.
This type of love can be a slippery slope though. I am a people pleaser and I love to do things for others. That being said, many times in my life I have put so much of myself into that idea that I’ve sacrificed my own well being in the meantime. It’s an intense and emotionally charged type of love that is often never a guarantee, but if the gamble pays off it can lead to the most intense of outcomes. And unfortunately I often gravitate towards the intense versions of love, this one included.
This type of love leaves a mark on you, or at least it has in my experiences. I’m not talking about breakups or unrequited love. Rather I’m talking about losing a love that you thought you would always have or having to let go of a dream so big it feels like a part of you floats away with it.
When I lost my Dad, I think a part of me changed forever. I remember when I was younger he would talk about losing his parents with this far away look in his eyes and I couldn’t empathize. It’s a thought those of us with parents or parental figures don’t often give thought to. I find myself with that same expression as I write these words. To lose a love in death changes you and your perspective. I find myself feeling much older, and in some ways wiser, since losing family members and friends that I could never imagine my life without because they passed away.
In a similar intensity, I remember the day I had to accept that we would never be able to afford to have our own biological children. That one still stings a lot and I haven’t talked about it openly before.
I’ve always believed that I would have biological children. And many years ago we were forced to come to terms with (based on the science at the time) that Julio couldn’t father them biologically – a loss in itself. So when we went to an educational seminar around surrogacy and heard it would cost us over $100,000, it sank in that my dream would never come to be a truth.
And it hurt. It still hurts. A loss of something that never came to be can be just as painful as losing something or someone that was real. I think I’m still not healed from this wound, but it’s important for me to start talking about it to try. It does not take away from the love and excitement I have for our adopted children, but it is a loss that I have felt and still feel.
I have never been very good at asking of others what I offer them. One sided love and friendships, I’ve had a few. If I could give my younger, so eager to please and feel needed self some advise it would be to ask more of others. I used to be the kid to give gifts to feel thanks. I would offer to drive knowing they wouldn’t have invited me if I didn’t. I would shower people with my admiration and even into my blog career offer them a spotlight because I just wanted to feel loved in some way.
Many of my one sided friendships ended when things got hard, and because of that I am now very weary of others. I don’t trust easily at 37 years old and have a really hard time making friends. I want so badly to believe that I won’t be used or left behind when I need someone, but that’s not how I’ve been conditioned over the years. So now I focus on the real connections and beautiful people I do have. It’s sad to accept that friendships end, even some of the long ones, but I try to not hold any grudges.
As for all the boys who didn’t love me back, it would be easy to be angry and mean. I could name them all and tell you the sorted truths of our love stories, but that wouldn’t accomplish much. I love that I loved them once and learned what love was and wasn’t because of them. Fuck, I’m even the villain in some of those stories as many of us will be for someone in our lives. But I do wish them well and I’ve learned to let go of the hurt, no matter how long some of them took to get over.
Here’s the thing about unrequited love or love unreturned. It can be seen as something to be sad about or take pity on, but it’s okay to be that in life. Some people will deserve your whole heart, and others are just moments to remind you you deserve better. Try to not take it too personally and forgive when it’s possible so that you don’t get too hurt on the way out of falling in love.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Catherine is my true love story. And while some of you will just chalk that up to our silliness over the years, but there is a depth in the love that I feel for Catherine and the love she has for me that is deeper than any other in my life.
I know that no matter what I do, she will always be there for me. And for those of you trying to read in between the lines, no that isn’t a jab at my marriage or husband. It’s not a secret that Julio and I have had a long and hard relationship. In many ways there have been a lot of conditions put on each other.
With Catherine, it is pure and all loving.
I can be myself with her, both good and bad. She knows all my secrets and never judges me for my choices, nor do I with hers. I hope that all of you have a Catherine in your life, and that you find one of your own. One beautiful soul that you know can always be there for you to remind you to keep believing in good things. To love you when you can’t love yourself. This is a very special kind of love that I am grateful for every single day.
Your true love doesn’t always come in the form of romantic love. Sometimes it’s a person who stands with you forever and shows you that you deserve love in its purest form.
This one takes a lot of patience and understanding to address. Nothing drove me more crazy than being left without an answer or explanation. My previous long term relation before Julio found me engaged. After many years, and pealing back some truths that hurt to accept, I came to accept that that relationship would never have survived and he was looking for a way out. When I presented him with one, he took it and ran as fast as he could. Following the break up, I made some pretty stupid decisions to try and win him back, which only ended up reinforcing the reason he left.
The hard part about this kind of love is that often it involves wounds you didn’t see coming. Losing his family hurt almost to the same intensity because I loved them all so much. Friends pick sides. Lines are drawn in the proverbial sand and nothing feels fair.
Here’s what I can offer as some advise: you may never get the answers you think you deserve. But if you can walk away knowing you tried everything to fix the problem or win them back, it’s okay to not get that answer.
I worked two jobs when I moved back to Ottawa to pay back my exes family the money they had lent us over the years. I tried everything to convince him to love me again. And when I finally learned to let it go, I had to accept that just because he didn’t love me it didn’t mean I was unlovable. This one sucks, but heartbreak can help to remind your heart what it really deserves.
So this is something I’ve never talked about but it is something I have experienced and lived. I know what a lot of people are going to say – it’s because I’m gay. But I actually have friends of all orientations and gender identities who have lived or explored polyamory. The thought is one I never would have thought I would share or acknowledge, but I like to think that there is no one version of love or what it “should be.”
Polyamory of course has many forms, some with emotional attachment and others that are based solely on the physical. Here’s my perspective from personal experience…. If it makes you happy, who the fuck cares what other people think. Society didn’t accept being gay for generations, and in many ways still doesn’t. If you find yourself entertaining the idea, remember that if it brings you joy and adds to your relationship with someone in your life, try it and see where it goes.
Just remember to be in a place of open communication and honesty. This has played out in many ways for myself over the last 15 years since I came out, but it was when I was most honest about my feelings and desires that I felt most like myself in a polyamorous situation.
The hardest love of all for me.
I often joke about my body or the way I look in an effort to deflect the pain I have felt or feel. Living my life in the “spotlight” since starting the blog has only shined a light on my insecurities. Many times perfect strangers (be them acquaintances in the media or followers on social media accounts) comment on my weight and body. I have many times in my life lived entire months and years without looking in a mirror.
Because I just couldn’t. All I saw was the things I hated about myself.
Be they names I was called by people who I never expected to call me them. Or just because in my desperation to be loved I couldn’t even love myself enough to see my strengths and beauty.
For those of you who have or will feel this way, I want you to know that it’s okay to be in that headspace. We live in a world where self care and love are preached but without any guidelines of how to navigate the ups and downs. I personally can fluctuate physically and mentally to an intensity that is gratified for being thin and questioned when not. I am a gay man who is deemed ugly because he doesn’t have the “Daddy” body he should. I am not the body I was when I met my husband, or when we separated and got fit out of necessity to feel gratified.
Self love is the most challenging kind of love. Not to achieve, but to maintain.
I’m getting emotional just thinking about the fact that I can’t remember what it felt like to feel 100% in love with me. And that makes me sad. I think that feeling is where this blog post came from. All of these types of love fall to the wayside when it comes to loving ourselves. We want others to love us in so many ways, but if we don’t love ourselves, is it the same?
The answer is I don’t know. Love is a complicated thing and I think this quickly became the love letter to who I have been in hopes that one day I can love him again the same way. If nothing else, I hope this vulnerability and perspective reminds you to be a little more kind and loving to yourself above all else.
The rest, just like we all come to realize eventually, will sort itself out. But you deserve to be loved for everything you are right now.
Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year