I want to ask you about love and what we do when we are afraid of it. Of what it is, what it could be, and also what it used to be, what it used to mean.
When you are afraid, do you hide yourself away? Do you sit on your hands to keep them from telling the truth? Do you smile even when your face hurts from wearing the mask of someone else? When you are afraid, do you stretch your arms overhead, tall like sunflowers, to give the appearance of grandeur and bravery? To draw attention away from the fear written on your face?
Is fear a way of protection or a dismantling?
When someone holds their open palms out to you do you fill them with your own? Or do you leave them empty because it’s in the emptiness where you’ve grown to feel safe? Do you touch them because they are there or because you want to? Do you know the difference?
Have you ever held out your own open hands? Or are you the first to pull away? To close them up and say, love is a dangerous thing. Do you let the warmth of what’s inside spill from between your fingers or do you still believe that giving yourself away is a loss?
Do you think love finds the crack and breaks us open? Or does it find the crack and mend it? Mend us. Like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, put back together with lacquer and gold, all our scars on the outside, visible and gleaming. Not good as new, but good as something. Or is it in the openness, the brokenness, where the love is found? Where, what, the love is. The how of love. The why of it.
Is it the love that keeps us safe or is it the very thing that destroys us? Do you know the difference between safety and destruction? Or is love a metamorphosis? A transformation. A decay. A death, a rest, or something like it. A birth. An awakening. A journey from one thing to another. Unknown to known. Anew.
Do you know how to be held or do you only know how to exist in the world as an unheld thing? A thing like a swallow, a butterfly, a dandelion turned to wishes, that could easily be bruised, crushed, smothered in someone’s hands—in your own hands. Is it that you are fragile? Or is it that you like to break things—yourself—because you tell your heart stories about how good things were never meant for you, and what’s the difference?
Is it easier not to believe in love? When you were a kid with sticky fingers and a dirty mouth you watched a movie about a clown who only existed if you believed it to be real. Isn’t the same thing true about love? Is it your lack of belief, your lack of imagination that keeps you protected, safe, spared? Is it the illusion of security that tells you love isn’t real?
But the thing is, the thing you will come to find out is that it was real, is real, and it’s in this knowing that you find yourself, what little of yourself you have left.
This piece came to me as I was thinking about the main character of the novel I’m currently working on. If you’re a paid subscriber you’ve heard a bit about it in my monthly wrap-ups. As I was embracing her mind, trying to move through the world as she would, she brought me to the question of love. I felt the fear in her, and at the same time, the fear in me. It’s incredible how our characters can show us things about ourselves (or our past selves) that we weren’t even aware of believing or thinking. For most of my life fear has sat right next to love, making it a dangerous thing. I’ve come a long way since the kid with a dirty mouth, but I wouldn’t say love feels safe. There is always an element of danger—a monster lurking—and this is the very thing I am exploring with this novel.
What do you think about love? Does it make you feel safe? What do you do when you’re afraid of it?
If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like this one…
"Do you know how to be held or do you only know how to exist in the world as an unheld thing? [...] Is it that you are fragile? Or is it that you like to break things—yourself—because you tell your heart stories about how good things were never meant for you, and what’s the difference?"
Right to the heart of the matter. Taking away some deep thoughts from this one. x
This part got me, and the answers came to me immediately.
When someone holds their open palms out to you do you fill them with your own?
- Yes, but...
Or do you leave them empty because it’s in the emptiness where you’ve grown to feel safe?
- I don't leave them empty, my partner deserves his to be filled with my own.
Do you touch them because they are there or because you want to? Do you know the difference?
- Much of the time, because they are there. I do know the difference.
Have you ever held out your own open hands? Or are you the first to pull away? To close them up and say, love is a dangerous thing.
- Yes, but I am the first to pull away. Why do I do that when I simultaneously feel so secure?
Do you let the warmth of what’s inside spill from between your fingers or do you still believe that giving yourself away is a loss?
- Giving myself away feels like a loss. I want to spill what's inside, I recognize that want in my mind, but the action doesn't come. A paralysis of sorts.
I've written in your truth or dare entry (I think - I've shared this somewhere) that I shy away from love. Sometimes feel smothered. My partner knows when I need space, but that very space makes me in turn want the love. I can't figure it out. Have I been burned too many times in the past? Am I scarred from the first & biggest love I've had 15 years ago in high school? How? When I am positively sure that I am loved beyond measure. Secure, safe, wanted, accepted. For more than a decade now. How do you crack yourself open? How do you accept and return love with an caged heart? How does a heart become uncaged? I believe that guilt is a pointless feeling, it does no good for one's self or those around them, but I won't deny that this all makes my guilt inside ever-present. I hope to one day look back from the other side of this place of guilt and smile at the naïvety I had and the growth I went through to get to that "other side."
I tend to always comment / share my thoughts that are all about myself. I hope it doesn't seem one-sided. I keep coming back here because it is my safe space for introspection. Like a prompted journal entry (most of my comments here also land in my actual journal). But I would just like to reiterate that I relate deeply to much of what you share, and I'm forever grateful for your authenticity as well as this place I can come to share my unfiltered thoughts. This is a beautiful entry, and I can't wait to read about your main character. Thank you for sharing, as always.