Friday, May 27, 2011
Worth The Risk
Despite my daughter’s warnings against watching Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, I still watched it and between laughs found a kernel of wisdom. Near the end of the movie, Connor Mead pleads with his brother’s runaway fiancé to give love a chance. He goes on to explain that he chose not to risk love because he was afraid of being hurt by having his beloved leave him. He thought he was the smarter one by avoiding the heartache of breakups, divorce or even the death of a loved one. Because the movie is a romantic comedy, we all know Connor has the chance to reconsider the love he put aside. Not so with the real world, which brings us to the question: Is love worth the risk?
I work with teenagers on an average day I have at least one girl crying in the bathroom and one boy acting sulky. Definite signs of a breakup, no big surprise there since the average 8th grade romance is about 1-2 weeks in duration. After breakup period is usually short in nature depending how much attention the parties receive…and what type of attention they receive. I’ve seen girls’ tears almost vaporize off their cheeks when the right boy inquires if they are open for weekend. Talk about risk takers, if they swear off love it is for about twenty minutes.
As we get older, we are less likely to jump back into the fray after a major heartbreak. Maybe we need more time to evaluate our wounds. Perhaps we get more attention as we age. We definitely get plenty of commiseration. Who hasn’t witnessed a clutch of college co-eds bad mouthing the male gender when a friend is dumped. The same girls will scatter like wildfire when a party at a particularly desirable frat house is announced leaving the dispirited girl alone. Even as they feel for this sister who has been burned, they are more than willing to throw themselves in the fire. They may even give the dumped girl advice that the best way to get over one man is to get under a new man.
When do we stop running like lemmings over a cliff to get to love? Usually after a very deep, hurt. Often divorce can do it. Divorce is hard no matter how friendly and faultless you try to make it. All your shared hopes and dreams just blow up splattering you with the carnage. It’s hard to bounce back when it is so public. All your friends, relatives, and even neighbors seem to want to jump in and explain who’s at fault when all you want is for everyone to quit talking. The very last thing you want to think about is love because love got you into the mess.
A toxic relationship can be just as devastating as a divorce because the relationship consumes you. Still as hard as you work you can never please your partner, there is no winning. Your self-esteem bled out while your toxic partner berated you as he helped himself to your assets. If you are very unlucky you happened to be married to your toxic partner. If you escape such a scenario, the very last thing you want to do is to take a chance of hooking up with someone just as bad. I know what that is like and would not repeat it for the world. Still, would I be willing to take a risk for love?
My answer is an emphatic yes. Maybe a few years ago it wouldn’t have been. I’ve been hurt big time by love, but more realistically by people who didn’t know how to love. Seems like a bad deal to blame love for human actions. I did give up on love and hid myself away. It wasn’t a great time, but it was what I needed to do to recover. Once I felt ready to stand on my own two feet again, I had to decide if I was willing to take a chance on love again. I was, but my sisters and mother were totally against the idea because I might get hurt again.
If you love someone there is the possibility they could leave you taking their love with them. Sometimes, we don’t consider they may leave this Earth, but they do. I had three significant people die in my life unexpectedly. It is unimaginable that if I knew they would die that I would choose not to love them to spare myself pain later…and yet that is what we do when we refuse to step out of our safety zone to throw our hearts out on the ground open to public scrutiny. We are avoiding the hurt that could happen. We also bypass the joy and delight that love can bring into our lives.
The thing I realized as I grew older and lost friends to death and moving is that none of our relationships have FOREVER stamped on it. I used to assume they did, so when a relationship ended abruptly I became angry. Instead of seeing all the good times we had together, I only saw those years we didn’t share. Life is different when you become grateful for what you did have. Love makes it all so much better.
I am a little embarrassed to admit that without love my life truly lacked zest. I am very blessed with good health, an excellent job and interesting hobbies. I realize I have more than some and may even be living the life that others aspire to…so it is hard to confess I felt something missing. I kept busy by working extra hours, volunteering, and picking up new hobbies. My busyness filled up any alone time I might have.
Dating seemed a natural outlet. Even though I would never verbalize that I hoped to find someone who I would mean the world to and I would feel the same way about him. If I said it aloud then I would just be ridiculed. I took a risk believing it was worth the possibility of being hurt. I figuratively fell a couple times, slapped my face on the concrete once, and managed to crawl to a sitting position, but eventually I stood upright.
Months later, I can say it was very definitely worth it. I found love and it is surprisingly beautiful and crisp almost like being seventeen again. I thought it would moth-eaten and worn from years of non-use, but love is like a fairy godmother who transforms the everyday things into wonderful creations. Hearts heal, spirits lift, tears dry when love comes on the scene.
If you’ve ever truly experience love then you know it is always worth the risk.