Love you forever.

Is it possible to love someone forever?  Or is it more realistic to believe that nothing lasts forever?

The notion of ‘nothing lasts forever’ can be effective in dealing with disappointments and let-downs. It’s like a mental shrug of the shoulders that acknowledges a setback but allows you to move on unhindered.

In the past however I used it as a permanent mind-set. It was the only way I had of rationalising and managing my life.Of course all that happened was that I became trapped in a self-fulfilling prophesy. I desperately wanted and needed to love and be loved, but as long as I held onto the idea that everything was temporary, it was never going to happen. And believing that I was worthless compounded my perception that love would never exist in my life at all, let alone forever.

A counsellor once said to me, “It’s a miracle that you are married.” She was right. I’d experienced such dysfunctional love. The grief I had felt at losing my mum was based on a false love – I had no love for her, only love for the mother that could have been. And that goes for my father too. His love came at a price. Love was a ‘deal’ – Quid pro quo.

As an adult the problem was my inability to identify what love actually was and then to accept it when it came my way. Who doesn’t remember their first true love? The bitter-sweet romance of youth with a promise that it would last forever. Naturally he broke my heart in a way that only a first love can and left me resolving never to allow myself to feel that vulnerable again.

Whilst everyone else around me seemed to be connecting with their long-term sweetheart, I went through relationships that were at best superficial and at worst completely destructive to my body and mind. Alcoholism and depression became my constant companions. They fed my fear of attachment and ensured a loveless existence. And a life without love is no life at all.

Learning to love was by far greatest challenge in my healing. With the help of faith and hope I confronted my alcoholism, dealt with the traumas of the past and reclaimed my life with a passion. But finding the courage to love myself and others was challenging and painful. Opening up myself to the possibility of rejection was terrifying, as was the notion of commitment.

When I finally believed I was worthy of a relationship, I had to learn how to manage the love within it. I’d previously had the unrealistic expectation that ‘love you forever’ meant ‘I’ll never leave you’ or ‘I’ll never hurt you.’ And I’m sure for some people that’s actually the truth. But for me I could only receive ‘love you forever’ as something for the moment.

I’ve come a long way from only believing in ‘nothing is forever’, and I truly want to believe in ‘love you forever’.  When I made my marriage vows I meant them and want the marriage to last.  But if I’m honest, there are times when I doubt that it’s possible. I struggle with having the experience that reminds me how people can let me down but on the other hand having the wisdom that reassures me that I am strong enough to trust.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And that’s what I intend to do. I’m a work in progress and not a million miles away from doing the thing I think I cannot do.

But in the meantime I’ll take a deep breath and say “Just for today, I’ll love you forever.”

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Top image thanks to Freaky Peas      http://www.etsy.com/listing/89892270/blue-heart-original-multi-media-painting          Bottom image thanks to Joy Northrop           http://www.etsy.com/listing/108601989/forever-love-digital-download-whimsical