An Atrophied Love Muscle Works Out

It was hard figuring out where his body started and mine ended.

That’s how comfortable I was sleeping with him. His strong arms and legs wrapped around mine, bodies spooning perfectly. I didn’t want to leave. This…I could do every night. There was no promise of kisses. No “I’ll call you later” lies. No yearning for more than what I received or gave. In this one moment, it was pure and perfect. As if it were the last good beer I’d ever drink, each moment like a sip to savor, to put into my memory to last me a lifetime. The way he smelled, the curve of his nose, the softness of his skin mixed with mosquito bites, the weight of his limbs on mine. Even the gray showing in his hair was endearing.

The best part: it was sensual not sexual.

It’s been along time since I felt safe in someone’s arms. He wasn’t going to try to feel me up. He wasn’t expecting me to give him head. Sex was not on the plate. It was pure unfettered cuddling. It made me feel like I was 4 years old again. I rode my bike away feeling happy, elated, and with a great sense that everything was perfect in the world. I sang songs and did a little bike dance

It was better than sex.

Hard to believe, I know. It’s been mystifying me. I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions in the past 2 months about love, but this cuddling moment has brought up the most interesting one.

How does a person realize they forgot how to love?

After so much heartbreak, relationships, longing, even getting beaten down by disappointing dates, I didn’t realize how big the wall around my heart had grown. It’s almost as if every guy that has ever hit on me put one more brick in it, a little more mortar, until it became big enough for me to paint it all pretty with excuses and lies to myself so I wouldn’t notice it. Even a pretty wall is still a wall and I’ve been hiding my heart behind it.

I still show my friends and family love, but I’ve been noticing that has been limited too. Walls don’t discriminate. You can throw ropes over them, reach a hand over, set up a ladder, even jump to the other side for a while, but it’s still there. Until you take a sledgehammer to it, that wall will always be an obstacle. It took a long time for the Berlin Wall to come down. So does one around a heart.

Realizing that I’ve forgotten how to love feels like the first good blow to my wall. It’s like looking to the other side through the chink I’ve made and seeing how beautiful it is. I’ve been remembering what love used to be for me, what it’s turned into, and what I’m going to do about my wall. This is what I came up with:

Love like I’m 4 years old.

Be innocent. Let go of the unnecessary. Observe my heart’s interest with wonder and joy. Be playful. Give and receive openly and honestly. Say “I love you” or “I like you” when I feel it. Laugh a lot. Be affectionate. Become best friends.

All these adult concepts in magazines about love and how to attract the right partner and what size your engagement ring should be and what size his penis should be….it’s all bullshit.

My best relationships have been the ones where I felt like a little kid. When I really look at them and how they ended, the reasons are all different but they all boil down to the same thing: Society (and/or hormones) got into my head, told me I was supposed to be an “adult”, and I obeyed. How sad is that?

What is even more sad is being afraid to express emotions of endearment. This one has messed with me for a long time especially in the past few boyfriends I’ve had. I’ve become so scared of my words being taken the wrong way I stopped saying the “I love you[s]”. Well…except after a few drinks, which my friends can attest to. When those words somehow escape my vocal cords to run amuck in the real world, they seem to play havoc with the other person’s emotions due to my lack of using the biggest of those 3, love. Most people will say they love a band, a kitchen utensil, a pet, a TV show, whatever, but I don’t unless I really do. I can say I LOVE DeVotchka. They really are my favorite band. Everything else I just like. If you ever hear me say after a few drinks “I love you” it doesn’t mean I want to marry you and have babies. If I’m sober and saying it to you with that look of pure love, adoration, sincerity and wearing my heart on my sleeve then you can take it as “she’s in it”.

I would like to get back to the way 4-year olds say I love you. With openness, unafraid of how the other person is going to take it, completely honest, throwing it out there as a statement of affection with a smile on my face and laughter in my heart. Followed with a raspberry to the cheek.

Love shouldn’t feel heavy. It should make us feel lighter. It should make us laugh more. It should fill our hearts to the point of exploding but the cool thing is that they never do.

Love is the quintessence of renewable energy.

Break down your pretty walls. Be like a 4-year old. Say “I love you” with laughter and a smile. Be affectionate without strings attached. Sing at the top of your lungs.

Give your love muscle a good work out.

You might realize that it’s much stronger and resilient than you thought.

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