Love. Love is a powerful emotion that you cannot actually give content to until it happens. No one can tell you what to feel, what to expect, how to react. Whether falling in love relates to a comfortable peace with another; a common understanding; an all encompassing passion; or something else entirely. It is all of the above and more. There are certain people in your life that you love. Usually your family and pets and then those people who make an impact on your life, be it small or large, your friends, your relationships, someone who is fleeting, and someone a little more permanent. The story below is about me and the love and pain I have endured and the emotions associated with both. It is about three young men who in themselves taught me very different things and who above all, I loved, in very different ways.
The first time I fell in love and got my heart broken (because these two points are inextricably linked) was my first couple of weeks at University. I met this boy, his name was Ed* and I thought he was exactly like me, just in the male form. He was smart, arrogant, nice and good looking. He looked after me and helped me with subjects I struggled with. I thought (naively at the time of course) that “this was it”; “this was my future…the boy I would spend my university life with.” What I learned much later, is just because you connect on an emotional level does not mean you connect on a physical one and just because you feel a certain way about someone does not mean they feel the same way about you. I was besotted with Ed and everyone thought we were the perfect couple. Well we certainly weren’t perfect when he dumped me. 2 weeks later. And my sense of euphoria turned into a sense of bewilderment and pain. You question yourself, you question him, and you question your relationship and its entirety. You question why, you question how, you question if. You cry and you talk and you try and make sense of it all, but you know what? There is no sense. There is no answer. Because ultimately, what meant something to you, obviously didn’t mean as much to him and here were and are reasons and there always will be and sometimes you will know the exact answer (e.g. he’s gay) and sometimes you won’t and you have to accept that.
Being the short whirlwind romance it was and being at University with a plethora of men to choose from, I moved forward, surprisingly quickly of course (because really, what is the great content of love as we understand it? Sometimes it’s a fast move, sometimes slow but I don’t think that means you love someone any less). And before long I had set my sights on another young man who I might add quickly became my “rebound” guy at many a juncture. Sexy, fun, entertaining. He was everything Ed wasn’t and that was exactly what I was looking for. He seemed to live life on the edge and I did things I wouldn’t usually associate with myself. I laughed and let go and had fun and a couple more dramas then ensued. Something I learned here as well that physical attraction does not necessarily go hand in hand with emotional attraction either – the polar opposite of Ed.
Let’s now move on to number three. Jake*. Jake was everything I wasn’t. I thought he was gorgeous and very much NOT my type. I have always been, I suppose to label it, and relatively “prim and proper” whereas this boy was obnoxious, rude, callous, dark and brooding. Yet another one I “didn’t quite get”, “couldn’t understand” and fought relentlessly with. I cannot tell you why for eleven months, on and off we tried and fought, were nasty and at the same time a little in awe of one another. To be honest, if I think about it, I wanted to “change him” I wanted him to “open up to me” and “let me fix” him. Actually there was nothing wrong with him. Or me. We were just incompatible, both physically and emotionally, although it took me a long time to see that. We didn’t work. I say for eleven months as that, I suppose, was how long we were “official” for. But our relationship carried on, not in the physical sense, but the emotional one. I felt like I was bound to him. I still had to “be there” for him and ensure he was ok.
What is interesting, none of the three cited above ever treated me particularly well. And to be fair, I have been no saint over the years, but they were my first three loves, linked to me, always. It’s amazing how powerful love can be in fact, because these three men I have discussed above; they are all gay. Finding this out about each of them over the years has been, in one word, traumatizing. It made me re-visit my relationship with each of them and query WHY and WHY me. It dredged up all the old happy and painful memories and just made them all painful, because how can you be so wrong about someone and does that then nullify everything you ever did or felt or thought that they felt, said or did? In one word, no. It is not a nullity what you feel, what I felt. It is an understanding, a comprehension as to WHY things sometimes don’t work out. It brings a sense of closure, permanence. It was never me, it could never be me. (I just want to insert a note here that it doesn’t make the pain any less). A friend so rightly pointed out to me that just because they are gay now doesn’t mean that their impact on me is lessened in any way, they played an important role in my life and that doesn’t change. They shaped a part of me and I loved every one of them, albeit in different ways, and what is more, they loved me in their different ways.
I think M. Aurelis hit the nail on the head when he said “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” I can choose to second guess myself and my previous relationships, or I can move forward and look back at the past and learn. Learn from these men and learn what I do want in future relationships and what I don’t. Because really, all three relationships, however much I loved them, were going nowhere (and this was before I found out they were gay.)
*names have been changed to protect these men that meant something to me, as although I’m telling my story, it is not for me to tell theirs.