When I Say I Love You

Love is a choice. It cannot be bought or borrowed or forced or coerced. It can only be given and received.

I have seen a lot of love in my lifetime. I saw it in the airport as a young couple talked with their son. I thought I saw it epitomized in so many marriages. I have read it in the pages of books and seen it on Hollywood screens; in the Bible and in the memories of those on whom love has left its indelible mark. There are a lot of people who have tried to convince me that they are the ones that are right about love, and the amazing thing is that I cannot prove them wrong because it seems like the definitions are always changing. However, maybe the people that I know that are in love are the ones that keep changing; keep obscuring the view. Maybe it is us who have misplaced the meaning of the word that used to hold the power of the Universe in it's hands, and that shook mountains and raised the dead, and was simply what it was, which was wonderful; unexplainable except for the single syllable almost gasped out at times; whispered, shouted and done.

I have started to see that a lot of things said about love that I believed, are not true at all. Love is not passive or insane or proud. It does not know that it is behaving sacrificially when it makes sacrifices. I do not claim to know now, or understand love in any comprehensive way and it is something that has become more beautiful to me because of how it is mystery mixed with brash straightforwardness. All I really seem to know is how I want to relate to love in my own life, based on the experiences that I have had with it. I don't want to throw around a word that I don't mean and so I want to at least know what I mean when I say it, even if that is just a small piece of what love might be. 

When I say I love you I will not say it out of duty. I will not say it because it is what I should say. I will not say it because I am compelled to say it. For a long time I believed that love was a tyranny; that eventually you were overpowered by love. I don't think that is true. I think surrender is a choice and fighting is a choice and retreat is a choice.

I will not say I love you because I want to hide myself behind who you are in order to escape who I am. For a long time I thought that I needed to make someone love me in order to make myself feel lovable. I also thought that I could escape into another person and find in them an adventure that would satisfy my soul. It turns out that other people are just as human as me and that they will let me down. Also I think you can indeed lose yourself in someone else. The thought, however, is terrifying to me, rather than comforting. Love is not losing yourself, it is the process of being found.

I will not say I love you out of fear that you will leave if I don't say it. I will also probably break all of these rules at one time or another, but even when I am blinded by my own loneliness and insecurity, I hope the people around me won't be.

I will say I love you because it is something I am choosing to give. I will say it in spite of all the lies that tell me that I am unlovable and dirty and worthless and damaged and hopelessly lost. I will say it because I am choosing to love you in the face of every insecurity and failure and dark corner in my mind, and because I am choosing to embrace yours. I know that I cannot stay in the gray area of indifference and paralysis because of fear or shame and call it love. I want either to hate or to love you, but not neither. I will say I love you when I find the courage, because one thing I've learned about love is that it is extreme and it is bold and it is fearless. I will say I love you when I want you to listen to your own heart, even if that means being away from me. When I say I love you, I will not love perfectly. I will say it because it is worth the risk.


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