There is a strong possibility that I’m not capable of love.
At least not the kind I thought I was supposed to be capable of.
That thought makes my eyes tired, and my hand twitch to open some kind of crunchy/salty snack.
As I started to write this piece while sitting on the porch of my family’s lakehouse, my cousin Meaghan interrupted me with a palm outstretched. She was holding a pink rock the size of a thick Triscuit.
I think of things in units of food.
“It’s rose quartz,” she said with confidence, handing it to me. “It’s for unconditional love and self acceptance.”
The day before, I had simply expressed to her that it’s possible that I’m dead inside and that I feel almost nothing these days when considering the spiritual, and that God/The Universe/Oprah’s book club hadn’t sent me a sign to say that I’ll ever love again.
And it broke her heart. This rose quartz, which is currently sitting in my cleavage for safekeeping, is the biggest love languagey gift my cousin could have given me.
She believes, you see. She feels healing vibes come to her out of seemingly inanimate objects simply because she asked for them. I know by handing me this rock, she was offering me her own faith in the mystical.
I think she was offering the faith she has in me.
She’s going through a significantly bigger life change than I am - so how is it that she’s offering me her pink Triscuit crystals?
All of the emotioning makes me feel gross. I’m impressively clammed up for someone who once wrote two-thousand words about ketchup.
I keep sitting and staring at my computer screen hoping that words will come to me, but the only sentence that appears on the glowing-white screen is, “There is a strong possibility that I’m not capable of love.”
I’m doubting myself so much, that even that sentence shrugs its shoulders.
Maybe the question the scary dark corner in my mind is really asking is, “What if you can never love unconditionally?”
I feel that no matter what kind of prophylactic SARS-esque mask I don to avoid the subject, Love is in the air. We’re obsessed with the having of it. And we can’t just stop at love, we all must upgrade to Unconditional Love.
As one relationship chapter in my life ends, and I continue my navigation through the stages of Breakup Grief (anger;!resentment; passive-aggressive memes on Facebook; tequila shots on a Wednesday; single-and-fabulous-I-don’t-need-no-man-selfie-Saturday; crying to a stranger in a bathroom stall; and revenge Tinder), I start asking myself whether I’m even wired for unconditional love.
I’m really good at dressing the part of a person in love. My Instagram is primed for #blessed pictures, and my Amazon cart is full of matching Christmas onsies.
I’m capable of listing the things I want (read: demand) from a partner. You know the laundry list of check-boxes that we all have: the height; the hair; the job; the age; their undying and devoted attention to only me, but also that they have hobbies so they’re not too clingy; that they’re preferably an orphan so I don’t have to split holidays.
I know exactly the life I want to have, and I can picture who it should be sitting next to me when we’re old and gray, but the “what-ifs” beat at me like the freaking Tell Tale Heart.
What if I’m not able to find someone and love all of them in sickness and in health? Or worse, when they have a whole day of hard gas?
What if I get bored of safe? What if it just doesn’t feel perfect, and I slap a ring on it anyway?
What if they’ve hurt me? Do I throw the whole person away or just the thing they did?
What if...I don’t believe that anyone can love me unconditionally?
As the poet laureates/philosophers, Tag Team, said in 1993, “Whoomp, there it is. Shaka laka. Shaka laka.”
Ok, touche, but I’ve decided that I’m calling bullshit on unconditional love. Or at least in the way we have fetishized it.
I’m changing the what-ifs.
What if love is a verb? What if we have to actually do it? What if it’s not a feeling at all? What if it’s in motion?
What if it’s a risk? But a good risk, like the way you feel when you open a present on your birthday, not a bad risk like gas station sushi. What if that risk didn’t feel like a noose?
What if unconditional love doesn’t exist? What if we don’t need to like or love every part of a person?
What if we hate that they chew their ice cream cone like it robbed them? What if we see flames every time they hock a loogie in the car? Or get frustrated that they get so depressed sometimes that they can’t leave the house?
What if we saw that we have the freedom to choose the aspects of a person we dig, and love those parts harder?
What if we stopped romanticizing the excitement of novelty?
What if we got real with our own insecurities and acknowledged that it’s exciting to pretend to be the person you want to be when things are new…and how that’s addicting.
We have the freedom to make love an action. We get to verb that shit up.
I can do that all day long. If I know I have the choice, and that I’m not just stuck with some tool who clips their toenails on the dining room table, I’m good!
But what if that’s not the hard part.
What if we chose ourselves first?
I know, but stay with me.
What if we actually looked in the mirror and said something like, “Yo, it’s ok. You’re worth being loved in the way you need, and someone is deserving of the love you’re able to give.”
What if we just gave loving ourselves a shot before the daily flogging began?
I have a horrible suspicion that when I actually start working on my own worthiness, I’m going to find that those conditions I could look past to love someone may not really be the issue.
Who knows. That’s above my pay grade, and also the reason I love how many therapists my health insurance covers.
Here are the things I do know:
There’s an accountability that comes with choosing that love. The capital L, Love. The verb. It’s better or worse, man, when you make that choice.
It’s not ok to feel lonely in a relationship. Love as a verb is also only fulfilling when volleyed between people, rather than juggled alone.
Blaming ourselves for someone else’s inability to make their love a verb is going to make you need Botox between your eyes. It’s not your fault if they can’t do the work.
The person that’s meant to be my person is one with whom I can have an open and honest conversation about the choices we need to make together. We get to demand that our partner has a desire to hear when we’re feeling less than ok.
I don’t believe in the word failure when it comes to relationships. That dirty F word gives me the same aftertaste as when I think I’m fully in control of something. I’ve failed at making souffles, but relationships aren’t fully up to me. The more we treat it that way, the more we’re likely to use the same exact formula the next time.
I also know that time doesn’t do shit, so don’t let anyone tell you that time alone heals all wounds. Take the time you’re given, and go do something with it. Go to therapy. Go invest in the people that have had your back since the day they met you. Break your pattern. See if it works.
And lastly, I finally know that someone else’s fingers intertwined in mine is not the definition of my worth.
Ain’t no one’s gonna complete me. But boy howdy, I’m looking forward to the day that I get to spend my time with the person who compliments me.
That’s the love I have all the capacity in the world for.
I tried to give the rose quartz back to my cousin later today. She told me to keep it...that I should hold it for a while. How she has the bandwidth to give a gift as big as the heart that she has always worn on her sleeve has always wowed me. I hope she puts that heart right back out there soon. And I swear to God I’ll know exactly where to shove this crystal if the next guy doesn’t verb his love back.