Chapter 14 : Conflicts of Me
January 8, 1999

The idea of love, the concept of it, is one that continues to baffle me, even as I accept and embrace it.

Love is not exclusionary. It grows with you as you grow. As you continue to live, new people enter your life, and you accept them into your heart as you had others in the past. The painful process of falling in love, whether a friendship or something deeper, does not cause the love for those already in your heart and your life to diminish.

From the beginning of your life, your family is the foundation for the basis of your qualifications to love. They form and shape the way you look at the world and people close to you before you know how to do it for yourself.

But, what is love? It's undefineable. It exists in different forms for each individual. You can love someone, yet they do not love you. Or the more painful proposition is when someone loves you and you know you cannot return their feelings.

To be sure, there are different ways to love another person; as a family member, as a friend, as a lover, and as something deeper that encompasses some or all of these.

Taking on lovers and losing them, as part of growing and changing, is an inevitable, if undesired fact of life. Painful separations end relationships, as the love you feel disapates, unable to reconcile with the anger or pain that accompanies such situations.

For many of the women I have dated and loved, the endings came, our relationships disolving into questions of what went wrong, or more how they went wrong. Friendships beyond the separations became facsades built of cordial cards with Hallmark greetings on special occassions, and awkward conversations of "How have you been?" or "What have you been doing?" Kind attempts to try to recognize that at one time you both shared something special, while realizing that there were unreconciable differences that caused you both pain. Usually one more than the other.

Much better were those that began as friends and through time became occassional lovers, sharing intimate time that filled the emptiness in both of you during those times no one else was there. That explicit understanding between the two of us that the intimacy would end, but of a natural course. Not harsh and bitter. It was a relationship of comforting and support.

But what of those loves that simply do not die? These hearts hold onto what you have shared, and have never resigned to being less than friends of the most intimate nature. Old friends, old lovers, and something more.

You move on apart, fall in love with others, find your way in life, what you have desired and what makes you whole. Your heart expands, focused on what is most important in your life. But it does not shrink, does not give up the love you still share from those you never let go.

And why should you let go? To do so would be to betray your heart, your self, your being. It would deny who you are, and what is important to you. There are these rare instances where love in a relationship never dried up, or found closure in friendship, just as there is love that never had the chance to blossom, to become what it should have been, more than it was.

The heart is not split by holding onto love in the past, if that love was never left in the past. Only holding onto love that has ended is foolish.

But morality plays the devil, invoking responsibility within the context of love. Not just the morality of society, but that of the individual and the desire to not hurt those who you love. For we are taught that love is exclusionary - that love should not exist for more than one person, that it is whole and totally encompassing.

But it is not. Just as your love grows to accept a son or daughter, a new brother or sister, it does not take from your love of anyone else. And therin lies the flaw that causes so much pain and confusion. There is a paradox, or a hypocracy, in the concept of love. For the defined concept of love, the written definition, the societal meaning of love, cannot fully describe what love between two people truly is, or how an individual builds it withing themselves.

If it could, we wouldn't wonder about if we were falling in love. We wouldn't wring our hands trying to decide if a particular person is the 'One' for us. We would have a set definition, a set list of rules and a checklist to match off qualifications to make sure that this is it.

The truth being, love exists in the purest form when both people love each other as much. At this point, you will never find anything that can destroy that love, that connection, aside from ignorance and jealousy born from the imposition of rules upon the definitions of an individual's feelings that, in reality, can not be defined.

Of the women who I have loved, some did not love me, some did, but not as much. Some I did not love, but cared for, while they gave me their undying devotion and I ended up crushing them because I could not return their affection.

My love for my wife did not grow smaller when our son was born. My wife wondered at the incredible ability for her own heart to accept more, to not love me less, and still love our son.

I have loved and lost. I have mourned over the pain I have caused to those I could not love. I have loved and held on. Right or wrong. The love that I hold in my heart, I can not in good conscious let go of. For I kow the pain it would cause me if someone I loved cut that part out of their heart because they thought there just wasn't enough room in it for me. And I would mourn the love I let go out of the convienence to uncomplicate my life.

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