Some Thoughts On Love & Other Cliches

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Shared by eleanorgullandwrites

Our world is one riddled with clichés. Love is a gift. Love is pain.

They’re clichés because they’re true, of course – but like a well-worn t-shirt, their overuse has wrung them of all colour and depth. People say things like ‘oh well, love is pain isn’t it?’ in place of being honest. Rather than talk about how they’re really feeling, they fall back on well-peddled sayings to do the talking for them.

Recently, I heard someone reach into the gizzards of those clichés and wrench out a beautiful truth: pain is a gift. Four simple words, but the impact of them nearly winded me. When you’re sobbing to the point of illness and clawing at yourself in wretched desperation, it sure doesn’t feel like it. But it is.

Personally, I have always considered myself to be good with pain. At sixteen, a nervously anticipated trip to a piercing studio resulted in two saliva-soaked seconds and a silver bauble in my tongue. Where was the blood? The tears? I felt almost cheated. Consequent experiences with piercers, tattooists and even hard leather belts have solidified that not only am I good with pain, but I actually kind of enjoy it. There’s a strange catharsis to be found in the buzz of a tattoo machine, and that is nothing new.

However. Emotional pain is a different beast altogether, and one I’ve never come close to conquering. I guess it’s because, for all my swaggering machismo, I am a weak person. I will do anything in my power to avoid feeling that gut-twisting, heart-pounding, tear-spewing soul ache I’ve felt before. I will run, hide, beg, lie and plaster on a big fake smile in my attempts to avoid it. Why? Because that kind of hurt forges an indelible mark, leaving you forever afraid of its return.

In my experience, ‘that kind of hurt’ can only be caused by one thing: love (or the demise of it). Heartbreak dehumanizes you, leaving you red raw and exposed to the elements. Rain stings; sunshine burns; laughter maims. The nausea and shock that follows a break up subsides soon enough – but once the omnipresent agony sets in, you long for the physical pain to return. It’s a nasty business.

So, where is the gift in that? What kind of beauty is there to be found in the excruciating wretchedness of a broken heart? While I could say that the gift lies in the lesson, I don’t believe that’s the answer. Yes, you will become a stronger person for getting through the pain. Yes, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. They’re pretty words, but they are no different to the clichés I condemned before. To me, the gift of pain is akin to the gift of life. Pain is an unavoidable facet of life, and when you’re experiencing it – you’re living. Everything hurts, but you’re still breathing. Your heart feels irreparably shattered, but it’s still beating. You’re still putting one foot in front of the other, dragging yourself through the day and crying into your pillow at night. Eventually, little moments of happiness will take you by surprise, made all the sweeter by their unexpected reprieve. A smile. A song. A star-spangled night. Your vulnerability will make you more sensitive to these moments, and you’ll appreciate them in ways you never did before. Pain strips you bare, exposes your wounds and forces you to rebuild – one fragile layer at a time.

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