Is your love love?


So much of our worlds are inherited. Often times, what we think about ourselves, about others, how we behave and cope with emotional stress, our expectations as it relates to career, love, and life in general, and so much more are all passed down to us from the people we interact with and from what we read or hear. Children are perfect little recorders of their environments. They pick up the vocabulary, the dialect, and all the subtleties of the human behavior surrounding them. Because of that, the emotional space a child grows up in plays a major role in how they experience and demonstrate their emotions throughout life.

My last relationship was my first adult relationship, and I went into it stumbling, wanting this love, yet very fearful. Much of the time we were together, instead of placing my trust in my partner and what we were building, I was afraid to really open myself up and let him in, let him know where I’d been and what I battled with. In being dishonest with myself, I was dishonest with him. I thought I knew how to love, but I didn’t. The reality was that I didn’t know how to love myself, so I didn’t know how to love him and I felt sort of inept the whole time we were together. Why couldn’t I open up? Why couldn’t I articulate my feelings? Why was I so afraid to be vulnerable and discuss my emotions? Why couldn’t I treat him the way he deserved to be treated?

One word: dysfunction. I was dysfunctional.

My journey has brought me back home for a little while and as uncomfortable as being here has been for me, I understand the importance of this return, especially as it relates to understanding my dysfunction. In true “there’s got to be something wrong with me” fashion, I initially owned it, as though I taught it to myself how to be dysfunctional. But I didn’t; like so many others in the world, I inherited it.

Why must we be the change we wish to see in the world? Because we don’t even recognize who all is watching and learning from us, and we don’t know exactly what they’re learning. I inherited my parents’ emotional limitations. Keeping everything bottled in was a norm. So were explosive reactions, yelling, not communicating at all, making a scene of being upset yet unwilling to discuss why, being hurtful because we were hurt. It was a mess. And only now as I unfurl all this emotional junk do I understand how I can never have a healthy relationship with these behavioral patterns.

We’ve all heard that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Unfortunately, for some reason, many people believe they’re like dogs and that their personalities, after a certain point, become static. That is only true for the person who accepts it as true. In reality, we always have the power to change. Growing pains seem to keep so many stagnant, despite the rewards being worth the challenges several times over.

Continuous self-analysis is a permanent part of growth. Whatever doesn’t grow is dead. Open yourself up to more life by constantly analyzing yourself and seeing where you can grow and improve weaknesses. The way you love will be how you teach your children to love. The way you love yourself is the way you will love others. The solution to almost everything in the world is more self-love. The more you love yourself, the deeper your capacity to honestly love others. The more love others feel, the more they learn how to return it and do; it’s cyclical. Let’s be conscious to pass on love, not dysfunction.

April 27, 2010 | filed under consider this, pay attention 


5 Responses to “Is your love love?”

  1. Travis Hellstrom on April 28th, 2010 3:21 am

    Very nice post, thanks for sharing these thoughts out loud. So many of us are going through this. Maybe all of us in one way or another.

  2. Leandra on April 29th, 2010 3:33 am

    Thank you for reading, Travis. I definitely agree that this is pretty common. The brokeness is so pervasive even mangled concepts of love are accepted and flourishing. We need to heal.

  3. love is so important. : What My World's Like on February 1st, 2011 5:48 am

    […] see myself a bit more clearly and honestly as I continue to reflect on love. I wrote a post called “Is your love love?” last year that loosely corresponds to the above […]

  4. MsAnkhQueen on July 21st, 2011 5:49 pm

    You know people walk around like they are not going through anything and their relationships are perfectly fine and normal and healthy and they are a mess. This was honest and I love it. I had a conversation similar to this a little while ago that went a little deeper. Its impossible to love a broken person because of the dysfunction it gets in the way and clouds judgement and love. And this very article my partner and I were just going through this and experienced a major break through in our relationship. And its very warming to read someone else experiencing the same thing.

  5. Leandra on July 22nd, 2011 2:56 am

    @MsAnkhQueen Yes! “We all wear the mask but how long will it last?” (c) The Fugees 🙂

    It’s difficult to put yourself out there and be open: “this is what I’m dealing with. I’ve made some progress there, but I’m stumbling here.” Yet if more of us did it, the more we’d understand that we’re all just figuring this thing out, no matter how authoritatively we may speak on certain matters.

    Acknowledgement is the first step to change. Congratulations. 🙂

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