Throughout our lives we have met and have in some ways loved various people. We tend to call our fist love the person with whom we first share a romantic connection/kiss; usually in our teenage years. However as we get older we may realize our “First love” may not have come in the “right” order. What do I mean by this?….When we are young we love the idea of falling in love and it is a magical experience, but falling in love is not the same as being in love or loving someone.
The younger we are or the less life experience we have had ( which is the case for those who have lived a very sheltered life) the less ability we have to give real love. Our love then is based more on illusion, we tend to fall in love with our reflection (the good things about ourselves which we may see on the other) but it doesn’t mean we see the other person clearly. Teenage love is full of magic and passion but it can also be very fleeting and egotistical. As we grow older many of us tend to become locked in a cocoon of self defense after a few heart breaks or maybe even rejections; that is how we tend to lose the magic of those years. However if one chooses to walk the road to self discovery and then chooses to open the heart again, then one can regain that magic; now intensified and supported by wisdom gathered through the years. Love becomes a choice not a matter of “luck”, more importantly one chooses to be real and to show each aspect of one self without reservations.
There are relationships which take place later in our life, when we are more settled and ready to handle life better (30-65). These relationships allow us to discover magical and unexpected people in whose arms we like to refuge because it feels like home, and everything about them is like sugar and fire at the same time. Relationships which propel us towards deeper self growth and a familiar feeling involves the whole thing. It carries within the magic and intensity of our youth, combined with maturity which makes it vital and energizing. It understands not all times will be easy but it has the strength to keep moving forward because the connection is no longer based on fears or ego but rather on real people exposing all of whom they are to each other.
The beauty of these loves lies in the fact that they seem to enter our lives at times when we may have given up on ourselves or the idea of ever finding that special someone. Sometimes we store sentimental failures or traumas so devastating which may have left us feeling “unreachable”, we may have felt our heart was turned to stone or feel we live in a jail we ourselves contributed to manufacture; it is then we find ourselves at crossroads about our lives, and it is then life might propel someone who impulses our growth and self value.
It is important to point out that mature love is not a term only used to define a certain age group (usually the term is used for people between 50-60 years old). Not all people who reach that age are capable to build a mature, conscious or happy love. There are many bitter hearts out there who have not dealt with the process of working through their personal wounds and live resentfully whether or not they display those feelings to others. They have not been able to make the inner journey where they can accept their share of responsibility; people who have not reached a point or real forgiveness of self and others–as one first has to assume responsibility in order to reach forgiveness.
At any point during any interaction with another human being there will be two sides, what differentiates a mature soul is the ability to see one’s part in the interaction and own it. There are no saints in this world and none of us can claim we did everything right at all times. If we intend to give real love a chance we need to stop victimizing ourselves and be more real with ourselves and others; only then we can find new paths, hope and a more fulfilled and real life. I invite you to reflect on a well known fact, personal maturity and wisdom are not acquired through the façade of perfect self or perfect life but through mistakes, trials and failures. Through having the courage to look in and reflect on who we really are, not what others think of us, because relying on other’s opinion of us to dictate our lives is like relying on a paper boat to take a cruise.
When one has lived a life in which life has traced more stories in us than we can count, when we are constantly working on developing and embracing ourselves, then we can see ourselves as “ripe fruit”. We must never forget ripe fruit has a much sweeter and pleasant taste than fruit which is too green or too bitter. The experiences which have shaped our lives should not be a burden, they may be painful but you would not be the strong, wise person you are today if it weren’t for them. We should not become the result of our hurts, failures, disappointments; we may never forget some of those traumas but we don’t have to relive them by choice.
I am not telling you to simply pretend the hurts aren’t there. I know these days being “positive’ is the way to be, yet more and more I am seeing people confuse being “positive’ with being in denial. You can’t heal that which you don’t address. Those who choose to pretend their wounds, mistakes, traumas aren’t there for the sake of “being positive” are ignorantly missing the point of what being positive really is. Being positive involves looking at the good side of something without denying the dark side of it. It means addressing it, cleaning the wound and doing the work to heal it. It means not victimizing ourselves for what happened (negativism) or pretend it didn’t affect us (fake positivism).
Be positive but do so while being real, by doing this, the changes you will achieve from addressing your wounds will be long lasting. Accept the fact you are not perfect and you won’t ever be, which is great because the moment one believes oneself to be perfect is the moment that person has reached rock bottom.
Your life isn’t perfect according to the model we have been given (for there are as many models are there are people’s perceptions); there will always be critics and there will always be life with its ups and downs…do not concern yourself with the first and learn to embrace life’s ride. Keep in mind you want to be the ripe fruit, not the green or bitter one, but in order to do that you will need to learn to look in, for there lies wisdom. In wisdom lies mature love, a love which is able to build more than it destroys. It is a gift and one you can only give yourself.
Mature love is a love in which neither of the souls involved deny or renounce their pasts; they simply accept themselves as wounded warriors who also made mistakes of their own. They come to each other truly naked in soul and spirit, inhabited by some scars. The story of their lives traced on their faces, haunted eyes that have seen too much, embracing each other’s imperfect souls and imperfect bodies. They have reached a place where the pains, mistakes and disappointments are not hidden; they do not care what others think of them, they understand life’s journey is about self, is about learning, is about the here and now, is accepting they are the result of all those experiences and that is what makes the “now” perfect for them.
According to Francesco Alberoni, human beings have not yet understood the mechanism of authentic and lasting love. Many of us still confuse the chemical shipwreck otherwise known as falling in love, with actual love. According to him, very few people understand real love is the ability to build, to accept the other person without enabling, to develop mental strength and the capacity to stand up for yourself. Mature love is to develop self love accepting your light and shadow.
According to Alberoni, if you are in a relationship where you live a second life, where you have to pretend you are “positive”, deny your hurts, your anger; the very things that make you human, then you are not in a healthy relationship no matter what others may say, for others are only judging based on appearances. Alberoni emphasizes that real love can be very bumpy at first because of how real both parties are with each other, but if you are growing as a person, if you are building and you have no need to pretend your life is perfect nor need to hide your quirks, then you have something special. The bond created from being real with one another is like a drug, even in difficult times, it leaves you wanting more...it brings together your mind, body and spirit.
It does not matter that our “first real love” didn’t arrive earlier in life. It doesn’t matter it was not the “correct order”, after all life has a wonderful chaotic touch where we have no choice but to enjoy the ride. In its wisdom life provides us with what it knows we need and are ready to handle at a specific moment in time. It makes sense then, why when we rediscover ourselves and stop hiding who we are, life brings forth someone who is also in the same path, who may be different in many ways but has a connection with your real self in a way no one else previously had.
Eric Fromm said “Love is an art”. He is right, love is not just a pleasant relationship, it is not just infatuation, it is not just sex, it is not just spiritual or mental–it is all of those things, then add the hard, uncomfortable and difficult to process. Love is an art because it requires effort, it is like shaping a sculpture or a canvass where each stroke is vital to convey its perspective, to give it shape, body and beauty. Mentally mature love is capable of this because it does not measure itself by other’s perceptions, it does not hide the darkness found within each partner, but by exposing the darkness light is brought in. It does not care if others like or approve because it has nothing to prove and knows fully well what it wants. Mentally mature lovers are not the ones that are serious and know how to please others…mentally mature lovers are authentic because authentic people build authentic, full and satisfying relationships despite the hard times.
Mentally mature lovers already know what it is to fall in love, hence they seek something else; a genuine connection; something deep yet delicate. They want intimacy in its full meaning, they accept each other’s wounds and help heal that which may still need healing. There are no secrets because they deeply value their connection. They aren’t with each other out of need, whether sexual, economical, loneliness, reputation; they are there because each of them provides a sense of home to each other. That is the type of love we all should strive for. That love can only happen when we become real with ourselves; accept yourself with all your facets, then you are being open to life helping you connect with another soul who will accept and love your “different”. You won’t have to pretend to be someone you are not because you are accepted no matter how wounded, how confused, how silly you may be; but that all starts with you accepting who you are.
Stop going around trying to play the dating game. Its name says it clearly “game”. Stop trying to hide your real opinions, your feelings, your ideas, your passions, your sadness, your anger in order to impress someone else. It doesn’t work. …
I speak from experience, in my case showing myself to my old partners was never the problem; that is perhaps the reason why it was always hard for them to get over the relationship. They loved my ability to show myself to them for who I am, in all its chaos and glory, with all my temper and all my gentleness, with all my fears and all my strength. I have always liked to dig deep, out of a need to understand more who I am and to help heal the mess others inflicted growing up. I have never been the definition of “normal” and although growing up I knew I was different; life had marked me at an early age; I never lost my ability to show my partners all of who I am. What I didn’t learn until much later was how to be who I am not only with my partners but with the whole world.
The day I decided to let it all go, to stop worrying about what others might think of me, is the day I found freedom. Its funny how the only reason I hid and didn’t embrace myself sooner was out of some false sense of protecting the men I was involved with. I could see how much they care for what other’s thought and I didn’t want to “force” them to simply be. Its a sad place to be when your life is based on how other’s perceive it; when other’s have built your home life to such a place where the only word that could describe it is “perfect”, its hard to make the choice to say enough.
I am so glad I came to a point where my soul couldn’t take it anymore and finally had enough. I was able to say my life isn’t perfect, I certainly am not and neither is the person with me. Sure those words brought up so much speculation, it was like being under a microscope where everybody seems to think they know why things unfolded the way they did. Everyone runs to blame the person who chose not to live hiding anymore, the person who chose not to enslave self or to slave another human being. I am who I am, some will like me, some I will rub the wrong way; at the end of the day it doesn’t matter who likes me or who doesn’t, I like myself and I am loved exactly by who I am. I can relax in the sense of I can simply be me, all of me; that is a wonderful feeling. So speaking from experience nothing is more powerful and more liberating than allowing your soul to express itself, no matter how weird or different; when you do you will attract someone else who will not be perfect and who also may be in a path of self discovery, but the one thing that will make the journey worthwhile is neither one of you has to pretend to be someone other than who you are. It is in this type of relationship where you grow and develop without losing yourself, but rather rediscovering yourself. Where you both crave and work together to develop a strong and noble bond in which to invest everyday for that implicit yet always present covenant: LOVE