“It’s one thing to fall in love. It’s another to feel someone else fall in love with you, and to feel a responsibility toward that love.”
— Every Day by David Levithan
Falling in love is easy.
Love is beautiful, fascinating, captivating. It’s everything of which one could dream. Falling in love takes no courage, no effort, no skill. Like falling into a lake. Mayhap one is splashed in the face with cold, dirty water.
…but nobody in the history of time said love had no consequences.
Someday, when you’ve fallen in love with that person, you’ll find— they fall in love with you, too. Suddenly, the stakes are real. I’ve felt that moment, more than once, when it’s not just me, playing with my own heart— but me playing with theirs. That moment of vulnerability, the moment you justify that vulnerability by accepting their love.
It’s no small matter. Could I leave? Physically, yes. Mentally, I’m abandoning them. They put their trust in me, their everything— and I just leave them like none of it meant anything?
That love has a weight to it. I can feel it. Some might call it a burden. I don’t believe it is that, but it does feel like a heaviness that takes up a part of my heart. Fills it that little bit more. Takes up a piece of me that is now theirs, and I cannot give it to anyone else.
Somedays I’m scared and want to run away. Other days I’m grateful.
I am sure I could leave, but I cannot imagine the amount of effort it would take to get me to leave my loved ones (and people have tried to scare me away, and it hasn’t worked, so don’t you even try, because the last person who did was far more terrifying than you will ever be).
That daily responsibility to the one you love is no light task. It will drain you, some days, in ways that make you feel you have nothing left to give— and then you’ll squeeze blood from a stone to give them what they need to survive. Knowing they will pour their blood and sweat back into you, not as their way of saying thanks, but because they feel the same weight and obligation towards you. Giving to you even on days they might resent and hate you. On days they feel tired and irritated.
On days they are happy, bursting with joy? You will get so much love that you float into the sky, idly musing if you’ll ever be heavy enough to fall back to earth. But you don’t care. Your body is an angel’s. Angels don’t bother with worries of what country their body ends up in.
Some days you’ll remember both the highs and the lows, and that will help keep you steady. Knowing that you can do this, the next day and the next. That you are all in this together. The grass may be greener on the other side, but you are too preoccupied with your own lawn to pay much attention to the neighbor’s grass. They probably have grass, but you haven’t looked lately. Maybe it’s a desert landscape.
That is what this kind of love means.
I don’t give away my whole heart. Metaphors are silly that way. Flexible in intepretation. My “heart” is something that I give away in pieces. I reserve a small part of it for myself, alone. But the rest? I freely give. It’s up to the person, of course, to receive that gift.
That is what I mean by love. That is what I mean by commitment. When you have that place in my heart, it is yours. It’s nobody else’s.
It is my heart, though, and it is precious. I won’t let it be abused or neglected. This is the only time I would say, take it back. Take back that piece of your heart. If someone abuses or neglects your heart, that is self preservation. Take it back— give it love and care to heal the cuts and bruises— make it well for the next person to whom you entrust your most precious possession.
Whether it’s your romantic others, your little ones, your friends, the stranger who drops you isolated bits of random kindness. That shared love is worth everything. Yes, even the stranger’s. Silly, but few kinds of love seem to mean quite what a stranger’s love does. A brief look, a few words that you didn’t know you needed to hear.
Love freely, love deeply— and when you are loved in return, don’t worry if your reaction is fear or stress or panic. Because being loved is the hardest thing in the world.