When people talk about love, they often talk about chemistry. About intellectual, physical, sexual and emotional compatibility. About finding someone who understands them. Even better if they also want to create similar things in life, so that it's possible to build a life together. But by the end of the day, is that love, or attraction?
What Is Love?
It could be said that love is respect. It's allowing someone to be who they are, while for that matter being honest with them, if they're doing something to harm themselves. That's when some tough love, might be required. The aforementioned smacking.
Love isn't just about that though. To love someone is a verb. It's about dedication. Showing up. A willingness to support someone else. You shouldn't sacrifice yourself, that's a recipe for disaster if there ever was one and has nothing to do with love, but you might have to make sacrifices.
Commitment - the Glue of Love
For different people, commitment looks different. We all define our relationships differently - some want one partner, some many. Some want to live apart, some together. The commitment looks different, but it's still there. A commitment to support each other.
I learned about commitment when mom died. From that day, both sets of my grandparents were there for us. They became our new sets of parents.
When gran, some twenty years later, was senile I helped her go to the bathroom. And somehow it dawned on me that, that was love. You're there for each other. Through thick and thin. In sickness and health. And the thing is, you want to be. You want to be there for those you love.
This year I was with my other gran in hospice. Lived next to her side for the last few days of her life. There were times I thought I couldn't take it any longer. If I had to withstand another moment of her suffering I'd collapse. One night I almost panicked when my dad left for the day. But the only thing worse than being there, was not being there. I couldn't stand the thought of her being alone. Someone had to wipe her mouth with water when she was thirsty. Someone had to ensure the doctor came when she was in pain. She couldn't call for help. And the fact that there were other patients there who were alone, freaked me out beyond measure.
Beyond Commitment Lies Freedom
Commitment doesn't mean staying in an abusive relationship. Commitment doesn't mean giving up your life to please someone else. Commitment doesn't mean staying with someone who decides to suddenly go down a path you don't desire to walk. Commitment simply means a dedication to being there for another human being. And that means showing up, even when it's uncomfortable.
Being in hospice with gran was uncomfortable. I used to be really scared of losing people, after mom's death and I didn't do particularly well with losing my other gran to senility, either, but this year I felt a sense of completion. I learned what it was like to love fully and let go. I wasn't scared of grief anymore, and it allowed me to love.
Going beyond what's comfortable is necessary for any relationship. Making sacrifices is too. But never, ever sacrificing yourself.
They say commitment is a trap, but anything in this life worth doing is a commitment. Anything you'd love to create will come with obstacles. On the other side of those obstacles lies the treasure. In an age where strong attraction is often confused with true love, I think it's something worth remembering.