Just one word – four simple letters – but when you open your mouth in preparedness to release them, you feel as if the words of that strange train station in Wales are trying to force their way out… Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.
A lump appears in your throat the very first time you try launching them from your larynx. It’s as if they don’t want to leave. Trapped in a cave of vulnerability, fear and shame. Suddenly, you are bombarded with a wave of what-ifs; attacking you from more angles that a Marco Van Basten volley. What if they laugh at me? What if they get scared and leave me? What if they don’t tell me what I want to hear? What if they don’t say I love you?
Then something quite different happens. You utter those fabled words and then you don’t stop uttering them. Like an etymologist who has just discovered something new, you cannot stop saying it. I love you, I love you…I love you. You become the, I love you speaking clock: more irritable that indubitable.
But what is love? What does it all mean? Where can you find it?
This week I have pondered these questions plenty. I have a great attribute that I am very proud of. I have developed the habit of change. Over the past years I have moved from one change to the next, each time forging better ways to do things created by reviewing the mistakes left by the old. I have moved into different countries and cultures, changed schools, stopped smoking, stopped taking drugs, stopped drinking alcohol, gotten divorced, moved home, changed careers, stopped watching pornography and changed my dietary behaviour. As I creep from change to change – like some sort of self-help leech – I find that the metaphorical blood I consume helps me change quicker and with more fluidity.
So why am I finding it so difficult where love is concerned?
How crazy I feel sometimes? I try to do the right thing and end up hurting the same people time and time again. I stop, reflect and try again. I place a band-aid over the problem shaped with the words but I love you and get on with my life. The post-distress sex is wonderful, the post argumentative closeness and affection amazing, but as times creep forward…BANG…I am back at square one. Apologetic, angry, confused and lost. Fearing what to do next or how to put things right. So I tell people that I love them. It is a sentence borne out of fear: the fear of impending loss.
But it isn’t good enough! This must stop now!
Brené Brown has been teaching me something that so far everyone else has failed to get past my thick determined skull. Brené Brown is helping me find love. She has made me realise that one of the traits you need to live a wholehearted life; a life filled with love, is courage. I’m not talking about the child who confronts the bully or the soldier charging across the battlefield. I am talking about speaking openly and honestly about who you are.
I am Lee Davy, 37-years of age, and I do not understand how to find love. I do not have the ability to understand why I upset those that I say I love. I don’t understand compassion, I get confused between empathy and sympathy, I am a terrible listener, and I am defensive, mean, nasty and have more justifications than a politician. I am also so very desperate to change, to continue to improve and to be a better man. I guess I am an imperfect person striving to find the holy grail of perfection – and that’s fine by me.
Finding love is the most difficult challenge that I have faced. I am just so grateful that I have created this wonderful habit of change. Had I not done so, I fear for the time it would have taken me to get-it and I really want to get-it. This week I have made a significant stride towards finding love. I have realised that I don’t understand compassion and I have no respect for boundaries. When you are intertwined in relationships where people have both compassion and boundaries, imagine what this feels like when dealing with you? Compassionate people have boundaries and as I don’t understand boundaries it leads me to the conclusion that I am not very compassionate. That hurts. It really does.
I will find true love through my connections with those I feel closest too. I can tell them that I love them, but words are easily lost in the haze surrounding never-ending failure. Instead I believe you find love, not through words, but instead through the feedback of those whom you want to fall in love with. Look into their eyes. Feel the warmth and security of their touch. It is there that you will find love. Hidden behind the web of being seen, feeling heard and of being valued.
Wholehearted love still eludes me, but I will find it; it is only a matter of time. I want to take this opportunity to thank my girlfriend Liza Lim, my counsellor Sarah Worley and author, speaker and teacher Brené Brown. If you want to know where true love resides, you are going to have to put your hand up and ask. For me, it is learned, and these three people have become my teachers. I am going to continue to practice being courageous, compassionate, respect boundaries and allow my most important connections to live free of judgment. By doing this, and only doing this, will I eventually be able to help people answer the question.
Where can I find love?
Photo: My connection, my teacher and my love – Liza Lim