I've learned an awful lot lately. I've learned that when I am upset, and when I feel like everything is wrong, it's absolutely not because I have no patience and am just a bitch that needs to change. It's because there are larger issues that take up so much of my energy that every little one becomes instantly overwhelming. I've learned that having a little help and understanding in changing those larger issues causes all the little issues to disappear entirely.
I've re-learned what love is. Yesterday I had brunch with Rachel at Chateau Marmont, and we talked about travel and LA and love and what was right and wrong about the love we've experienced in the past. A friend and I were talking about heartbreak a few days ago and she mentioned that, in her heartbroken state, this was the only person that she's ever cared about that couldn't return her love and affection. I told her she was so lucky - to reach your mid-20s and somehow still have a heart that has never been tarnished with the disrespect and carelessness of unrequited love is practically unheard of. I immediately wondered if I was the exception and not the rule; I loved so many men growing up, and none of them ever loved me back.
In the past, I've wondered if I actually loved these people. Maybe I was mistaking love for something else, and since I hadn't experienced my love being returned, I wouldn't have known better. I've always been infatuated with people that didn't feel the same, but I can say with certainty, now, that I loved them despite that. Young love taught me how to feel what I needed to feel, but made me ignore the incompatibilities that would have driven us apart even if they had wanted to be with me. I didn't know myself well enough to understand that.
In all of my stumbling, there was one person who I loved so deeply that it crushed my spirit. I came back from that wondering if I'd ever feel that strongly for anyone ever again, or if I'd just stay frozen, loving him and hurting over him for the rest of my life. I was incorrect about both, of course.
I've felt incompatible love all my life. I have laughed at the obvious with men, leading me to believe we had chemistry. I have shared experiences with men, leading me to believe they were listening. I have gotten fall-down drunk and had so much fun with men, leading me to believe I'd have just as much fun with them when we were sober. I have let men tell me what's "wrong" with me, leading me to believe that there was actually some major flaw that would never allow someone to love me until I was perfect. I have come to understand introversion, leading me to believe that I'd just never want to be around someone all the time. None of these things are true.
The love I feel now is the same love that I will feel for the rest of my life; there's no guesswork involved for either of us. I wake up every day feeling a warmth that I didn't think actually existed. I'm so excited that it does, and I'm even more excited that it's him that I get to experience it with.