Love Doesn’t Blossom in a Prison

Sometimes, in an effort to feel secure, we strangle the life out of a thing. For many, many people, facing the reality that anything living is in a constant state of flux is a hugely uncomfortable task. Nature is teaching us all the time, though. The seasons change, the leaves fall off the trees, the branches are barren and then the buds appear and the tree blooms again. Flowers grow and blossom and fade from whence they came, and new flowers spring up. You, yourself are always changing, shifting, evolving, growing; so is everyone else you know. Your body has an unknown expiration date, so does everyone else’s. We won’t know for sure what happens after this until we exhale for the last time. If you want to hide from the vulnerability and constant motion of this experience, you’re going to need to find a huge rock, earplugs and something to tie around your eyes, too.

It’s completely understandable that we’d like to be able to count on at least a few things, to create a little order out of all the uncertainty. The thing is, nature is wild and gorgeous and uncontrollable, and you are part of nature, you’re not separate from it. You can make choices about what you’d like the shape of your life to look like, and the way you’re going to show up, and you can control your behavior if you work on it. You can develop the ability to choose one thought over another. You can do the work to heal your deepest wounds, and you can uncover the limitless well of love you have within you. Then you can share it. So those are two things you can count on: everything is always changing, and your power lies in your response to what life puts in your path. But if you want to control your path or the people who may be walking it with you, you’re in for trouble.

Human beings are funny. We meet someone and we think, ohhhhh, look at this person, so beautiful, so wonderful, this is a person I want, and we enjoy the rush of the beginning. When the lust/dust clears, if something real is there we begin the process of knowing each other. It takes time and a willingness to see clearly. Right out of the gate people struggle with this. They want to see what they want to see. Maybe they’ve been waiting for love for a long time, and in the rush of hormones they’ve thought, “This is it!” They’re in love with the idea of being in love, and then the clinging begins. This has to be it, so this person has to conform to the idea I have about how my partner should be, they have to look like my vision board! They have to want what I want them to want, and anything that challenges my vision has to be rejected. The minute you cling to an outcome, you can bet you’re going to suffer. People are not possessions, and they are not obligated to want what you want, but love is a vulnerable undertaking, too, and it’s natural to want to feel like you can relax. How else to trust and open?

Two people have to keep choosing each other every day, every moment, that’s the only way. You can’t force someone to feel the way you want them to, you can’t cajole or convince anyone to fall madly in love with you; they will or they won’t. Selling yourself is a terrible price to pay for security. So is trying to be something other than what you are, in all your unique beauty. Withholding your love or attention or affection to get what you want is not loving. Setting up markers for your relationship, certain brass rings that have to be grabbed by certain deadlines is not loving, either, but when our fear outweighs our love, what ought to feel like an embrace becomes a stranglehold.

Love is not controlling or manipulative. It doesn’t need shackles, and it won’t grow in a prison. The more fear you put in the soil, the more you strangle the plant. No one wants to be owned or controlled. People long to be seen, heard, understood, cherished, but no one wants to be crushed under the weight of someone else’s insecurity. We’re all insecure enough; insecurity is a given. Also, being human, when we feel completely secure we start to take that security for granted. We don’t pay as close attention, we don’t show up the way we did. A relationship is a living, breathing thing. It needs nurturing, it needs to be fed. If you neglect it or mistreat it, it’s going to die. If you love someone, you’re making the choice to see them and to honor them, and you have to keep making that choice if you want the love to last through all the ups and downs and vulnerability inherent in the nature of all living things. I’m not just talking about romantic love, here. You can’t predict the future, you can only love in the now. When you recognize that everything is always changing, and nothing can be taken for granted, you’ll feel inspired to love with everything you’ve got, every moment you’ve got. Better get busy if you need to.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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