My post on finding love continues. I reflected on my childhood and adolescence in Part One. Following are segments on my adulthood experience and my projected future with love across its full spectrum.
I think now of my first real girlfriend. That was when I was 18 and spending a summer going to school in Washington, D.C. She was staying in the same boarding house as me. We met by spending time in the evenings, sitting with a group of young people on a stoop in front of the building. I was attracted to her. She looked like Anouk Aimee, a French actress in the film A Man and a Woman. I didn’t really know how to express my interest, so I showed how aloof I could be. I would sit while others did the talking, laughing at times, but staring off into the distance as though I didn’t care much about the conversation or the people around me. The ploy worked. The young woman took notice. We started talking and we were engaging wonderfully. It didn’t last more than two weeks, but it was a start for me.
As it happened, it was a few years before I had another girlfriend. We had a blind date arranged by mutual friends. We weren’t much alike, but we hit it off and a relationship developed. She was two years older than me, had two small children and was a widow due to a terrible auto accident. She wanted to get married, a thought that hadn’t occurred to me. Nevertheless, we were moving in that direction when our differences became too much and she broke up with me. Looking back on it years later, I realized I didn’t actually love her. I was infatuated, but not in love.
I entered into a new phase of my life following the devastating breakup. I gained confidence and eventually became wiser about my choice of girlfriends. I learned to look for qualities beyond sexual attraction. I considered shared goals and purposes in finding a life partner. I fell in love with two women during the next six years and married the second of the two. I found love.
Here’s the rub. I’ve never fully overcome my inability to love with all my heart. To be sure, I have had my moments with my wife and my children and others and the Entity that shall remain nameless. More often, though, I’ve been aloof without harboring any conscious negative feelings. It’s uncomfortable for me to say “I love you.” My wife has trained me to be totally fine with hugs, but I tend to default to non-expressed love. It may be all my own shortcomings, but I suspect it’s connected to my upbringing.
Where I’m Headed
I’m working to improve myself in this area, using two tools currently. First, I’m using meditation and contemplative prayer to tap into the reservoir of love within. I believe doing so will enable me to pass this love on to the people in my life in the form that is appreciated according to the needs of each.
Secondly, I have reviewed the “5 Languages of Love” as written by Gary Chapman. I’m reminded they are demonstrated by acts of service, gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation and appropriate physical touch.
What I’ve found is that I need to learn to be naturally free and easy in the give and take of the love that’s part of the core of my being. Hopefully, I can unlock it and throw away the key.