Playing With Fire (chapter 1)


"It sure feels good to love someone." the lyrics pop brightly out of my car radio, and I think to myself "Yeah it does."

The love I give always feels good, except when it doesn't; but then, if it doesn't feel good, is it love?

I've asked this question many times before.

FLASHBACK to Fall 2011:

I am standing in the last pew of my church in the darkened sanctuary the woman on stage sings, "It's so easy, so easy to love..." I stare blankly ahead and blink. She continues, "It's so easy to love". So easy she says. . . the words seem true and pure, but I can't let them in.

I hold up my guard. "Don't cry" I think to myself, as I try to use all my power and will to hold back the tears. A crack has been made in my foundation.

I want it to be true, so I let it in. In an instant I let go and the floodgates of emotions are released. Tears begin to stream down my face. I am so glad the sanctuary is dark, as I'd give anything to make myself invisible right now.  

The woman continues singing a beautiful upbeat song about love being so easy and I'm crying as if I'm at a funeral grieving the loss a beloved family member. It doesn't seem right.

I wish I could disappear, use an invisibility cloak, or run out the door, but the last thing I want to do is bring more attention to myself, so I stand there. I let her words and the song crack me open as I continue to spill out. 

These tears, are tears I've held back for years, nearly a decade now.

"Easy to Love... it's so easy" the woman belts out, as people greet each other warmly with hugs, handshakes and smiles. 

Easy to love? EASY TO LOVE???? Love. Easy?!?!

My mind reels at the words she sings.

"LOVE IS NOT EASY!!!", my mind screams at me. 

"Love is easy," my heart whispers. 

And the whisper and the words clash violently against the "reality" of my world. 

A world where "love" has come to mean anger and fighting.

In a near constant assault on one another, my husband and I engage in war-like 'bouts of conversation everyday we are together. We've become experts tearing at each other apart, finding the weakest places in each other, where we can sink our claws in, ripping into that place and spitting on each others dignity. 

It doesn't feel loving. It is not kind, yet it is the best I can do.

I try to come to him with a heart wide open and my shield down, but it never seems to be enough to disarm him. He sees my wounds and aims his words right at the raw spots.

I can't help but react when he hits an exposed nerve. It hurts. I yell. I scream. I fight with him for hours, that turn into nights, which leads to days, that becomes years. Now, this is my life. Years of fighting with each other. Years of battle. Years of wounds, constantly reinjured.

None of my wounds have healed. 

It seems we do nothing but fight, and "make love". By "make love", I mean we have sex. I know it's not love we make, but the pleasure of flesh entwined in flesh. After the moment together and a release we both feel better for a time. I relish the brief relief from the agony we swim in. And the waters calm, and we sleep for a bit, just to wake up and start the cycle all over again. 

This is my life. This is my reality. This is my "love". My husband: the man with whom I have decided to share my life, the man with whom I have a child, the man I share a house with, the man, who will be part of my life until the end.

"Is this LOVE?", I think.

"What is love?", I question.

It hurts. Is it love?

It's hard. Is it love?

How can this be love?

And each time I think thoughts such as this, I remember what I've been taught; sometimes "love is hard". I've learned that if you give more love, then things will change. So I show up and give it more love. I accept that it is hard. I accept that I'm being worn down. I accept that I'm feeling like things need to change and I am trying everything I can think of to change.

I just keep trying. 

Trying not to react. Trying not to get mad. Trying not to need anything. Trying to control myself. Trying to be whatever I need be so that he will be pleased, maybe even happy with me.

I'd do anything to become the person he loves. I just want to be accepted, but in reality "excepts" me. 

"I'd love you except. . . you interrupted me," he says.

"I'd listen to you except ... you changed the subject," he replies. 

"I'd be there for you except... you just want to be right", he spits at me.

"We'd talk about what you want except. . . we haven't finished with what you did wrong yet."

I jump through hoops, then he lights them on fire and is furious when I hesitate to jump through them again.

It's like we are stuck in a game, constantly upping the ante, yet the only payoff is a sense of dread, like the quiet lingering fog that hangs on over a pond at dawn. Deep down I know this is not the love I want.

Yet, I do not know what I want. Maybe I do. I just want to love. I want to be loved. And I'd DO ANYTHING to have that acceptance. So I try. I try so hard to earn it. I try so hard to take in every request and make myself fit into the image he requests. I cut off my personality to fit into the box of his love. I try, and I try, and I try, and I try, and I try, and I try. . . I try to love and adapt in a million different ways, yet it just seems to make things worse. 

So I stand in the pew, crying because they sing a song that my heart wants to sing, "its easy to love."

My heart is ready to be released from the prison I've built around it. 

I'm ready to drop the story I've told myself a million times. I'm ready to erase the belief that love is hard. I'm ready to live as though love is easy, like loving is the easiest most natural thing on the planet. 

I believe we came from love. I believe love is what we are.

So, if love is what I AM. 

And love is easy.

And if I listen to the quiet whispers of my heart, that say love is easy, love easy. Love. Easy. Love. Easy.

What do I do now, when love is not easy? What do I do when 'love' is the hardest thing I'm facing on the planet. 

What do I do when it seems, "Love" is killing me?