As an advanced warning this will be one of those self-indulgent posts where I muse about my own life. If you're not interested then don't worry - I don't intend to be doing these kinds of post on a regular basis so if (inexplicably) you actually like reading my opinions on political events then normal service will resume shortly. After all, I don't normally talk about my private life as I tend to keep my private life separate from everything else so you have no need to worry about this turning into a "dear diary" kind of blog.
Anyways, love. It's a funny thing isn't it?
At the end of last year I fell in love for the first time. I know what they say about first love and how it always feels like it will last forever and, I can tell you, they're right. I've discovered that I'm one of those people who loves being in love and, more than anything else in my life, I loved being in love with Her (I won't mention her name as I'm sure she won't appreciate it and because I have to much respect for both her privacy and mine). Nothing in all my life has felt as wonderful as it felt to love her and to know I was loved back. I really did dream and hope it would last forever.
Of course, I turned out to be wrong. Back in May we broke up or, rather, she broke up with me. I don't bear her any ill will over it and it was about as amicable a break up as possible. Ever since we first met we've got on well with each other and both of us enjoy being friends and talking to each other which is why we continue to remain friends now. So I can't really complain on that account. In fact the only thing that I really object to is that the break up happened just after the local election results (which were depressing) and just as I entered the exam revision period. Much as I like her, She has a terrible sense of timing.
So now, for the first time, I'm through the process of recovering from an ended relationship. It's an odd experience and I still don't really know how to handle it - though I'm sure it'll turn out okay.
That said, it's a big jump to go from being in a relationship with the person you loved, and who you hoped you might marry at some point in the distant future, to being on your own again. When we were together I found myself thinking of her on the most random of occasions and it always made me smile and brightened up my day. Afterwards, I still kept thinking about her only now it just made me feel sad and caused an unpleasant feeling in my belly which was somewhat like having butterflies.
And, of course, the nights are unpleasant following a break up. Even when you're in a mostly long distance relationship, as I was, you still have the memories of curling up together to comfort you when you got to sleep. But after a break up you can't help but be alone with your thoughts as you wait for sleep to come and brooding comes as easy as breathing.
Like a lot of people in my situation, or so I imagine, I kept on nursing hopes that we might still get back together. After about a month I did actually go on one, highly unsuccessful, date after which I realised that I was in no fit state to try dating when I still hoped I might yet get back together with Her.
Fortunately, instead of moping about it endlessly, I finally asked her outright about it and she said no - though she said it more pleasantly than that. And, surprisingly, that helped. Looking back on it I realise that it gave me closure and I was finally able to let the relationship end and move on to where I am now which is adjusting to what has happened.
Now I know it wasn't true love - if it was then she'd have felt the same way about me as I did about her. But at the time I was with her, that's what it felt like and it's hard to get your heart to feel what your rational mind knows to be the truth. But I think I'm starting to get over her and now I'm at a sort of semi-nostalgic and contemplative stage. Hence this post.
You see, I've always been what they call an old head on young shoulders and I'm also a romantic which is why I actually want all that hetero-normative, ideal relationship stuff. I want to get married some day. I want to have a house with kids and a cat and possibly a dog. I want to find someone I can get old with, someone I can love until the end of my days. I'm in no rush, but it's something I definitely want in my future. I'm not terrified of dying alone and I don't need children to feel fulfilled but I would like and want it all the same. When people like Caron Lindsay or Jennie Rigg mention things about their family life it makes me think: "yeah, I want that". I'm looking forwards to things like trying not to swear in front of your kids and worrying about school lunches and sitting down with them to watch Finding Nemo. All in good time though.
And it's an odd thing love. Rationally I know that it's just a chemical and hormonal state that's evolved in order to keep a mating pair together long enough to ensure conception but that still doesn't stop it feeling like the most important thing in the history of the world when you experience it. And I, like most people in my generation, have been raised on a diet of happily-ever-after films and books where true love always wins out and where everything has a happy ending. I know real life isn't like that, and I know that I'm probably ridiculously optimistic and naive but I still can't help but believe some of that stuff.
But when I'm in M&S, as I was today, I look at the romance novels and sneer at them. Escapist nonsense I tell myself, and yet my view of love is remarkably close to the view expressed in those novels. And it makes me think about how we think and talk about love. Pretty much everyone wants it and most people spend the best part of their lives chasing it. It's what ties children to parents and parents to children, and love for others is what motivates us to try and make the world a better place for future generations. It may all be an evolutionary adaptation for the sole purpose of passing on genes and securing the survival of the species but I don't see how that makes it any less real or important.
But there you go.
As I said, I'm in a contemplative stage so most of this is probably nonsense. But it is what I'm thinking at the moment. And I know that, in time, I'll be fully recovered and I'll start looking for love again, but in the meantime I'm somewhat enjoying this feeling of not having that nagging urge to find someone, of not having to worry about relationships. I'm still feeling considerable affection for Her and I still think of what might have been but it doesn't hurt any more. And, on the plus side, I'm finally understanding what people are saying in all those songs about love and heartbreak. It's funny really. Before you fall in love you can't even begin to imagine what they're saying and afterwards every word rings true. Such is life.
I think, in balance, and, despite everything, I'm glad for what's happened. Breaking up may have been painful but the happiness I had when She and I were together more than makes up for it. And it's an experience. I know more about life now than I did when I started. I think I've grown as a person because of it. Besides, I'm an optimist. I believe that true love is waiting for me somewhere and that I'll find it in the end. At least now I've learned some mistakes to avoid next time. So yeah, even if it has motivated me to write this post, which I'll probably look back on with horror in the future, and even if it has caused me pain and heartache, I'm glad of love whatever it actually is.