A half century of living has provided snippets of love along the way. You know, those heart-pounding, passionate, warm feelings of connections that can truly only be shared with another person. Fifty years has taught me that there are different loves that come into our life for different reasons and at different times.
My first decade was dedicated to learning about family love, or in my case, manipulative love. It was the beginning of love scars-parents who fought constantly and used their children in the war of words and deeds. They divorced and then pretended to love their children. My mother died, I am convinced, of a broken heart. My first love lesson between a man and a woman. I had just turned 11-years old. The scars continue to haunt.
The second decade of living presented in snippets of love. Love vignettes motivated by raging hormones and teenage insecurities. Two contributions, that when combined, prove to be lethal for teenage girls. I made stupid decisions in the name of "love" during a decade punctuated by free love, birth control, and drugs. I experienced my first boyfriend, first kiss, first sex, first pregnancy, first abortion, all in the name of love and all before age 20. This historic time was meant to liberate women. For me, it enslaved me to the notion that if one shares wholeheartedly, then of course, one will be rewarded with ever-lasting love. The notion lies. It takes so much more than one-sided giving and limited experience.
Enter the third decade in revolving and evolving love experience. This the fairytale decade. I met my knight in shining armor in my last year of college. He was THE one who swept me off my feet. Tall, dark and handsome. Nice family, stable, slightly older, dependable, responsible, respectful. He possessed a great gene pool. He taught me how to live with another person. He taught me financial responsibility. We danced a bit, but only because everyone else was dancing. Not dancing with passion, dancing to follow. He was everything my family wanted in a guy. It took me almost another decade to figure out that true love really needs to be about YOUR own needs, not what others think it should be for you. By that time, I had become the trophy wife, with the perfect house, two perfect and beautiful little girls two dogs and a cat. I was running a household, maintaining a part-time consulting job, and taking care of everyone else but me. The flame of love died slowly. It withered as the daily grind slowly sucked the life out of passion. Looking back, there had never been a deep-rooted passion-only an amazing facade of a Norman Rockwell family painting.
Snippets of true love started in glimmer in my fourth decade. A series of passionate, sex-based relationships taught me about the joy of sex (not from the book by the same name). I had my first ever organism. I learned to love my body. I also learned how to love a man's body. I learned that sometimes each day provides nothing more than a joyous phone call amidst the chaos of an average day crammed with activity. I learned the value of friends with no attachment. I learned that love can come in different forms: the beauty of a perfect sunset showing me God's love, the love of a friend helping you through tough times, the gut-wrenching love cycle in raising your children, the love of my country reflected in the sacrifices and victories of our soldiers. I learned to say "I love you!" out loud every time I needed to part from my beautiful daughters-by telephone, at the bedside, or with a hug at school.
I have come full circle at the half century mark. I loved a "boy" with a rich passion when I was 15-years old. I started a random online relationship with a significantly younger man that I now find is almost the perfect match for my experience, needs, and lifestyle. We are opposite in many ways, but he provides me the opportunity to reflect on all that I've learned about love. It's like getting a PhD in love-using and heeding all the life lessons in order to form a relationship that works. He needs to solve things and then rest (I now get that about men). He respects that I need to be able to give, but then I need to receive (I also now get those needs in women). I don't want to be in charge of everything (as taught in the feminist and post-feminist movements). I want to be able to share my gifts and receive the gifts of others-graciously.
My snippets of love are basic things. I need a hug every now and then. A passionate kiss in lovemaking is special. Holding hands during a baseball game. Snuggling on the couch in the dead of winter watching a football rivalry. Laughing out loud together. Solving issues for the family. Watching the girls grow and mature. Enjoying pancakes at IHOP for dinner. Being able to lay against his warmth when we have the time for occasional "sleepovers". Knowing that there is at least one person walking on the earth that I am able to share the deepest la
We all want to be loved. To know love. To give love. In the present, it feeds the soul. In the end, it remains our living legacy.