In every relationship, one person always loves more than the other. That's not to say that both parts of the whole aren't in love but one will always care a little harder. Or needs a little more. The first time someone told me that, it came with a warning. Midnight on a Tuesday, my first year in New York, on the way home from work. The same coworker who bleated confidently that he was the type of lover who loved more, leaned in a little closer, off Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street and whispered, "find someone who loves you more than you love them."
I just laughed. In part because I was not yet cynical enough to heed his advice but also because I have always loved something. It is just in my nature to want to be amorous: to make cute puns and keepsakes, to fill my heart with ideas the dreamcatcher snuck through. Back then, I didn't imagine a time where love wouldn't be reciprocal, since, love by definition needs more than one able-bodied participant. Or else, it is lust. Or worse- pedophilia.
There's that Serenity Prayer, used by twelve step programs, beseeching a place of healing for the wisdom to know the difference. To accept the things we cannot change. The people who love us is a something we cannot control. Neither is the people we love. Or how.
Now, I see the imbalance everywhere: on trains where couples pull and push away from one another like the Dance of the Cool Kids...bullying is, by definition, when one person treats another like they are inferior to them. This is a society in which we spend the majority of our time bullying, in order to keep ourselves from being bullied: it's a defense mechanism. Survival of the fittest.
I spot that weakness in others, now. And it scares me. It keeps my walls up, my emotions locked behind a collection of jagged metal bars. I don't mean to be prickly or detached. I'm just trying to remember what it felt like before I was broken. What it feels like to not be afraid.
"Losing love is like organ damage; it's like dying. Only difference is dying ends. This could go on forever."
But we are all hoping to be wiser than yesterday; to take something useful from the paper cuts.
My biggest problem is that I dive in, heart first. Too genuine for my own good. And I expect everyone to do the same. From the outside, there are lots of people who can put up the right facade. I teach my students about archetypes at the start of the year. So they can use them in their literature analysis, in their acting work. Stock characters, if you will. It's easy to channel Prince Charming. To channel the Damsel in Distress. It's much harder to take stock of who those characters are. Of our character. Sometimes the good guys come across as the bad ones.
Who has the wisdom to know the difference?
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal. Married to my best friend and planning a lifetime of adventure!