I know what fake love looks like.
My tongue has memorized its taste, my skin is familiar with its touch, and its melody has echoed like a toxic mantra within the chambers of my soul for most of my adulthood.
I believed the lies which twisted themselves into the music, movies, and conversations of my life, the ones that tattooed the words “love hurts” into my psyche.
As time passed and relationships began, bloomed, and died, I truly believed that the pain I experienced when these connections withered was a measure of how true the love was. It amazes me now, looking over my shoulder and into my memories, how clearly I see the tattered weeds I once watered thinking they were flowers.
Love does not hurt. It simply does not.
Pain is as foreign to love as the heavens are to the seas. When we look out into the horizon, it may seem like they touch or even unite, but it is just an optical illusion, though it may be perceived as reality by those who do not understand the tricks of bending light and distance.
Love has many impostors. Their names are Attachment, Lust, Fear, and Want. They are each deceptive, each powerful, but they each give birth to the same child in perpetuity—and its name is Pain.
Love can only beget love. When that truth introduced its light into the crevices of my heart, a purging began. Love will never leave me hungrier than I was prior to sitting at its table. Love will never strip me of the robes of my dignity and leave me naked and scratched by the talons of Shame.
Love will shelter me, shield me, teach me, and heal me. Those are the defining characteristics of Love, which separate it from its counterfeits.
Do not mistake Love for Attachment, because Attachment is forever hungry and never satisfied. I recall when I was “in attachment.” It gnawed at my insides like a ravenous parasite, needing to feed on the dysfunctional energy it generated when it was close to the object of its desire. It is never satiated. Now that I know Love, however, I know it to be self-sustaining as it nourishes my spirit with its unique elixir.
Do not mistake Love for Lust. Lust is an intoxicating addiction. It focuses the entirety of your worth and value between the parting of your thighs.
As a woman, I have challenged myself to remember that I do indeed have an organ which is always wet and throbbing, muscular and highly sensitive to stimulus—it is my heart. That should be the prize for those who pursue me—not anything south of the equator. Love seduces the soul and transcends base physical desires.
Love is not Fear either. Fear is the ultimate chameleon and can assume the appearance of many things. Love is no exception to Fear’s camouflage abilities. Fear has kept me rooted to negative situations and people in my past—afraid to move forward and scared of the unknown. I remember when familiarity seemed to be a prized commodity. Even when hurt was the constant companion in my life, at least I knew its face.
Since then though, I know that wherever I walk with Love, it not only becomes a fellow traveler, but also my guide. It leads me down a path of self-discovery and growth where Fear would never tread.
Finally, Love is not Want. It covets nothing. Want for many things can seem to be Love when viewed through the fun house mirror of Desire. Want for a ring. Want for children. Want for an escape from loneliness. Want can make us lose sight of our true value, as we stand at life’s roulette table and gamble away our standards and self-worth just to be wanted. Love, however, is no game of luck or chance—it is an investment that is sure to bring ample returns if it is preserved and honored.
In order to experience the full magnificence of Love, we cannot have our hands full with any of the aforementioned deceivers. When we release them, our hands may seem bruised and blistered after having held on so tightly to their acidic presence. However, remember that like me, your scars are God’s signature upon the tapestry of your life. Warriors bear scars, as do survivors. They are a thing of misunderstood beauty.
So now that we have explored together what Love is not, I invite you to join me in discovering its full potential on our independent yet ever-connected journeys.
Author: Gail Figaro
Image: Brigitte Dee Fries/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron