Lessons in Love

I love the idea of a holiday, any holiday of any kind, and sometimes I feel we don't have enough (which is why I flirted with the idea of converting to Judaism, where you have a holiday every week).

And despite my love life being very complicated (which is why I don't talk about it so much on this blog and leave our lesbian relationship columnist Diane the honour of telling you all her dating woes), I look forward to a day where I will be celebrating Valentine's Day (and Christmas, for that matter) with the woman of my life.

But it has been four years since I've been in a relationship around Valentine's Day, and that relationship was a very unhappy one.

A year later, when my relationship ended around Valentine's Day, I found myself falling in love with somebody else. A wonderful woman, funny, cute, golden-hearted, youthful yet extremely brilliant.

But because we were both still recovering from very traumatic events, and because I dealt with so much instability and chaos in my life that I ended up suffocating her, things took a wrong turn, twice in a row, in fact, around Valentine's Day.

And today, I find myself, just like last year, single.

But through the pain of loosing the woman I love last year, through being put through more pain by my ex after letting her back into my life, and through reexamining, with more distance and clarity, conversations, events and patterns with both women, I learned a lot, the same way I learned from what I've endured with my ex.

And I found myself drafting a list** on Notes of traits that I would want in an ideal life partner. Anything from "must love cats" to "must be trustworthy", including "cannot have extreme sexual kinks such as piercings, suffocation, scarification, or anything with blood or sharp/pointy things."

While I do not plan to publish this entire list on the blog, there's a different list I came up with that I'm ready to share. A list of lessons I've learned from my love life, through both joyful and painful experiences.

You can love more than once. 

I fell in love with three different women so far.

The very first was in my early teens; and it couldn't lead anywhere. I learned a lot from it, but I felt doomed at one point, as if I could never fall in love again.

Life proved me otherwise, when I fell in love with my ex, loving her much stronger because I thought back then that that love was mutual, and I didn't feel guilty loving her. And after she hurt me, I felt dead because I thought I couldn't possibly love a third woman as strongly.

Then I met the woman I love now, and loving her a thousand times stronger and more intensely than I've ever loved the first two.

And while I don't know whether the third time is the charm or if I will love many more women in my life, the conclusion I came to is that nobody is doomed to love just one person in their life, and be alone forever (or stuck in loveless relationships) if things don't work out. You never know what life has in store for you, so don't give up on happiness forever if things don't work out with one person.

Recovery comes first.
You cannot spread yourself too thin if you want to have a successful love life. I learned that the hard way, in 2015, when I was going through a very stressful period and was dealing with family problems. Instead of focusing on what needed to be fixed in my life before I could be able to have a healthy relationship, I created a total and complete emotional dependency on the woman I love that ended up smothering her.

If I had the chance to do things over, I would set my romantic feelings aside, take the time to recover from the stressful events I went through in 2014-2015, fix family drama, rebuild my life step by step (with professional help if needed), and then, when I would have a safe enough foundation so I wouldn’t fall apart and lose all my self-esteem if a girl didn’t answer my text messages within a day, I would open myself to love.

In fact, there’s no need for a chance to do things over: this is exactly what I am doing right now. I am not dating anyone (or even trying to win back the woman I love), but am focusing on work, spending quality time with my family, enjoying my home and the privacy for which I’m endlessly grateful, doting on my cat, of and slowly building a circle of trustworthy, drama-free friends.

And I know, I believe so strongly, that love will come at the right place, and at the right time.

Chaos breeds chaos.

My first few years out of high school were very difficult, filled with health issus, emotional crises, family drama, money troubles, and overall very, very intense stress. I only realise it now that my life has become more solid than it has ever been before. And if you’re familiar with the principle of the Law of Attraction, you’ll know that while positive thinking draws positivity, chaos can only draw chaos. I attracted very unstable and toxic people in my life, older women who pried on my fragility and loss, and my ex, unfortunately, was one of them.

Violence is never okay.

I was incredibly lucky not to be a victim of physical violence, but I suffered from so much emotional abuse at my ex’s hands that it nearly destroyed me; every time we would resume our relationship, I would be okay but the constant manipulation and gaslighting would soon make me a wreck.

The worst is that I wasn’t aware that this was abuse, because I was, like countless other women, conditioned to believe that abuse is only physical. I was so deeply buried into that relationship that I was unable to see and understand that this was violence, no matter how masked it was, and even when I suffered, I thought I deserved it, that it was okay, I always justified that behavior when I should have never tolerated it from the start.

Many women, no matter how intelligent, educated, or even wealthy they may be, tolerate violence in both its physical and emotional forms, and keep giving their abusive partners second, third, fourth, endless chances. Often, they end up paying for it with their lives.

Always trust your gut.
I had a lot of dreams during my relationship with my ex, that were foreshadowing of her deception, and of the way the relationship would end. 

Let me just tell you that dreaming that you’re completely paralyzed and being picked at by prey birds while your girlfriend stands in front of you, mocking you openly and making out with another girl, is not a good sign.

In retrospect, I think I was too blinded by love (and the idea that she had to be the one) to trust my guts feelings when I knew I was being lied to, manipulated, or even cheated on.

Similarly, I trusted my gut to know when love was real, despite circumstances that made it complicated. It would only take a sigh, a glance, a touch, to know that this was love, and it was real, and it had the opportunity, at the right time, to grow. I still know that for a fact at the moment.

An abusive partner never stops to be abusive.
The unfortunate saga with my ex began ten years ago, and always followed the same pattern. 

Sly, imperceptible abuse masked as grooming, kindness, abnormal patience for a year to a year and a half, during which I would slowly fall apart, and then, at the right time, when I would be dealing with an emotional crisis, I'd be discarded, told that I'm too demanding, threatened with break-up, that she was being too kind and needed to be more selective about the people in her life, and then she'd disappear.

Six months later, after I had had rebuilt myself, she'd come back, all repentant and begging for my forgiveness, even harassing my friends so they would get me to talk to her again. She'd find the words to worm herself back into my life, citing obscure mental diseases, and the cycle would begin all over again. 

Every time, I gave her a chance. Every time, I believed her when she said she changed.

She never changed.

Because abusive people never stop to be abusive. Narcissists never stop being narcissistic, and sociopaths can never, ever heal. YOU need to break the vicious cycle before they break you.

Love is not equal to suffering. If there’s any suffering, it isn’t love.
In the last few months before my relationship with my ex ended, I was on anti-depressants, feeling nearly suicidal at moments, and seeing a therapist three times a week if I found the strength to get dressed and go out, otherwise I’d have a phone appointment instead. 

And yet I was refusing to acknowledge that this pain was caused by the woman I loved more than anything. I cut myself off from friends who saw the truth and told me how bad she was for me, but I also censored my own thoughts, refusing to allow myself to think that her behaviour was causing me this pain, blaming it on my own emotional instability (an idea which she put into my head) than on her actions. 

I was made to believe I was mentally damaged to the point of no repair, when I was having a normal reaction to the distress I had been enduring.

When I became free, I realised that if there was one thing I wouldn’t compromise on in love, it’s being a martyr and suffering for the sake of love itself. Lover’s quarrels can happen, but if there’s constant suffering, it isn’t love anymore. Love is happiness, love is completion, love is growth. It is a million other things too, but constant pain isn’t one of them.

Everything happens for a reason.
There’s a reason two women, both lost and licking their wounds after severe emotional trauma, met on a sunny September day in 2013.

There’s a reason life closes some doors and opens others.

There’s a reason for pain: learning from it, and knowing how resilient we are.

There’s a reason why it happened to me sooner than later: because it is finally behind me now.

There's a reason why I fell so madly in love with my ex, moved to a different country for her, and owned up my relationship: because it gave me the courage to come out to my family and make them understand that they'd have to accept me the way I am.

There’s a reason why I did not marry my ex, have not purchased a home with her, adopted pets together or conceived children: because had this happened, she would remain part of my life forever, and so today I thank heavens that this life I was so desperate for all those years ago never happened.

There’s a reason why I lost the woman I love: because when I find love again, be it with her or anyone else, I’d learn not to repeat the mistakes I made in the past. 

Everything will be okay in the end.
There were times in the last ten years where I almost lost my mind due to the suffering I was put through.

I still have journals I kept from that period of time, just for the sake of clarity. Tokens of times so clouded with doubts and fear, that I’d wonder where I’d be five years later, or whether I would still be.

But despite all that, I am still here, I am alive, I am healthy, and I am thriving.

And, most importantly, I am happy. Single, and happier than I have ever been.

Because I trust that at the right time, the right love will come into my life, and it will be nothing less than wonderful.


*Where else in the world are there that many 24/7 supermarkets, by the way?

**It's the Law of Attraction, and it works. I did the same when I was struggling to find an apartment, and one month later, I got the one I live in now!

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