A Personal Essay on the Significance of Love
By Umi Neha
I've been deep in the exploration of my mind over the past few weeks, so many unanswered questions, contemplations, confused anger and over-excitement at the world all in one. It's been a rollercoaster to say the least, and as someone who suffers from BPD that's not often surprising. We feel everything in intense and copious amounts, whether it's desolation, contentment, satisfaction or pleasure, it's usually increased to the extreme and can become immensely exhausting. Which is why I felt like after a small creative break I was finally ready to write something with pure sentiment, depth and meaning.
I decided I wanted to go all in with this post. I wanted to be fierce and passionate and unapologetically me. I wanted to go into depth about love and it's personal meaning. I wanted to talk about my belief of how love can heal painful wounds when we allow ourselves to give into it. I also wanted to talk about my raw relationship with love, love languages, and also how my perception has changed over the years. From being a rebel teenager to a young adult, I feel like I've had my fair share of experience when it comes to love. So that's exactly what I'm going to talk about. No take backs, no guilt or shame. Just me.
For a long time, I thought the idea of admiration and loving someone had to be what everyone tells you it should be. Nowadays people base their boundaries, feelings and choices from things as stupid as an Instagram quote or a tweet. At first, I thought that too, I had this weird and confusing narrative in my head surrounding relationships and I was heavily influenced by the toxicity of social media and how glamourised abusive relationships are. You know what I mean, those quotes that say something along the lines of "if he or she isn't psycho he or she isn't in love with you" when in reality this is totally unacceptable and damaging to both people’s emotional well-being. I've been in extremely abusive and toxic relationships, and I've also been in a couple of healthy ones, and I picked up a lot of lessons from both. Sure, I could have done without the trauma, but I think each one shaped me to look at life and relationships differently, and not just romantic ones. Whether that's good or bad I'll leave it up to you, but I feel more knowledgeable and in touch with my emotions than I ever have. So, I think it has definitely been a significant part in my journey.
From being a little girl, I’ve always had a huge heart. I was often left out in school, bullied and treated differently just because I was brown. It was tough and I often become emotional looking at pictures of myself when I was younger, it makes me want to cradle that little girl and console her and all her pain. She was hurting for a long time, and I think I carried a lot of that hurt into my teenage years, enforcing me to make the wrong choices when it came to boys. My self-esteem was non-existent, and that reflection enabled me to be treated in awful ways by various people and honestly, I don't blame myself. It was never my fault. Those people shouldn't have taken advantage of my kindness and vulnerability and every day I work on the guilt I hold for what my younger self went through.
I think growing up experiencing constant rejection for being different allowed me to become more empathic towards others. I understood everyone’s sadness and I valued my relationships with them a hundred times more. When I came face to face with the things people often took for granted, I appreciated them because I felt so locked out of everyone else’s world.
I craved love, I wanted to be accepted and I gave my all to people who didn’t deserve it. I wish I could tell my younger self people don’t get better, they don’t have the same heart as you, you just have to learn to manage yourself around them. I like to think after all that I’ve been through you can either choose to let it destroy you and make you into a bitter person, or you can choose resilience and love. Not just when it comes to other people, but yourself. Self-love is a massive key to healthy relationships and that’s also something I’ve learnt, but we’ll save that for another post.
My first relationship at 13 being incredibly invasive, abusive and toxic wasn’t the best start for me when it came to boys, and it only went downhill from there. I discovered throughout the years that when I do love, I love incredibly hard and I go all the way for my person, which is great, but also the most painful thing ever when you’re betrayed or taken for granted, which a lot of the time was the case. When I’m in love with a person, I’ve looked at them like they’re the only one on this planet and it’s because to me, there is nothing more precious. I’ve looked at people with eyes like glass and a heart bursting to the brim with purity for their whole existence, and I’ve cried crimson when they’ve turned around and hurt me in the worst way possible. Yes, I think love is that butterfly feeling, wanting to kiss and hold them at every chance you get, and wanting to spend your every waking moment with them, but I also think love is choosing that person when things get difficult.
"I’ve looked at people with eyes like glass and a heart bursting to the brim with purity for their whole existence, and I’ve cried crimson when they’ve turned around and hurt me in the worst way possible."
I have learnt to separate situations and arguments within relationships from the bigger picture. I ask myself questions like “is this really worth more than what we have?” and if the answer is no, without disrespecting any of my boundaries, I realise that I want to choose love, because it is there and if you’re with the right person no disagreement is worth losing them over. Sometimes In a blind rage of frustration and anger we want to act out by walking away or being difficult, but I think when you have real love you begin to find comfort in being able to work against the situation together, instead of being against each other. When you can sit with someone and have uncomfortable conversations about what you’re lacking, is when you know it’s love, because nothing can threaten your relationship. Choosing that love when things get challenging, giving 80% one day when your other half can only give 20% and loving unconditionally no matter what, is the key. It’s the key to understanding, to empathy and to a peaceful heart. Regardless of everything that has happened to me, I think my heart is one of the best things about me, so why should I change based on other people’s inability to see my worth? Until you give me a reason to leave, I will love to my furthest capacity and beyond, because that’s who I am.
On the other hand, I’ve heard people say that love has destroyed or hurt them, but I think the complete opposite, and nothing will ever change my mind. Love isn’t bad, but people can be, and when you start to realise this, you begin to have an increasingly optimistic view on people in general and that’s where I took back my control. I can’t force someone to reciprocate the same magic and love that I give, but I can remove myself from a situation where I think the other person isn’t giving me enough. I often think about what it would be like if I let all those relationships destroy my ability to show emotion or believe in love, and I think what a miserable existence I would live. I truly believe to have love inside your heart, is to have hope, and people like that turn everything they touch into purity and passion. Throughout my experiences I’ve come to realise that we are put on this earth to love and be loved, and everything done out of that is done well. You can’t go wrong. Imagine if we all incorporated empathy, patience and admiration into everyone we spoke to and the situations we dealt with. We would become so mindful of ourselves, and I think when you choose the path of pure love, it begins to heal your deepest wounds and trauma’s.
"I can’t force someone to reciprocate the same magic and love that I give, but I can remove myself from a situation where I think the other person isn’t giving me enough. "
Truthfully, I would say our generation is one of the most difficult and confusing to deal with. The impact social media has had on our ability to communicate and work through problems within relationships and even show emotions is huge. Which is why I think a lot of people haven’t really matched my energy or mindset because too many of them are brainwashed by this toxic way of life. I’d like to think I have a bit of an old romantic soul. One that wants to get endlessly lost in my admiration for music, poetry, sunlight and a pure love. I try to see everything with a little sparkle on top, but at the same time my lows are fucking catastrophic, and I think that’s what allows me to love incredibly hard. For the people I care about it’s first nature for me to go to the end of the earth for them whenever they need me, because I understand the gut-wrenching sadness that can come with life, and it breaks my heart to see anyone else close to me go through that. As I said before, my trauma has without a doubt allowed something special in me to come to light such as the way I view the world and deal with emotions in general. I think after everything I’ve gone through and dealt with, I owe it to myself to be able to pick something positive out of my mental disorders and intense bursts of emotions, because well…If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?
All in all, these past 5 years have thrown some pretty harsh lessons my way, but I think it has set me up for life and although it’s pretty overwhelming living with these extreme emotions and feelings, it reminds me of all the beautiful things to live for in the world. Then comes the love. The love I have for writing, for nature, for animals, my family, the sea, the sand, the sky, the little joys. Everything, because love is all around us. It’s up to us to look for it. It saved me and gave me hope in my lowest times so I know it can do amazing things when you open your heart up to it. Everything is love.