Why is it that some incredibly common phrase, that we’ve heard for years, can suddenly sound so weird? I was talking with a girlfriend the other day, and the phrase “hopelessly in love” was uttered. I’ve heard it a kajillion times, but it suddenly sounded to wrong. Falling in love is not a state of hopelessness, at all. It is a state of hopefulness. Pure hope.
First there’s the “I hope this is real” stage. The stage when everything tingles, all sorts of things become both apparent and possible, and you hope it’s not your imagination.
Once you accept that you are feeling what you think you are feeling, comes the “I hope he’s real,” stage. This is when you look in all of his nooks and crannies for evidence that he is a serial killer, or a liar, or anything other than the amazing man he seems to be. Anything that would allow you NOT to go forward into this scary new state.
This brings us to “I hope he thinks I’m as amazing as I think he is.” You question the silences as well as the things he says. You search the time apart and the time away, looking for evidence that he’s smitten. Or that there’s no reason to get your hopes up, only to have them dashed.
Then comes the big stuff. Most easily summed up as “I hope this feeling lasts.” Of course, the newness doesn’t last, but the stuff of which the newness is made? That’s the stuff to hang on to. Because that’s where all the real hope is. And the fear.
Falling in love is like a big bang reaction inside of you creating entire new worlds that you get attached to. Worlds in which the two of you are doing all sorts of amazing things together. You are discovering awesome new sex, traveling, making new friends, developing hobbies….. And you begin to hope that all of these things will happen.
Pure hope. Hope for all those things and more that you haven’t thought to hope for yet. You may even make it to hoping you’ll grow old together… The hopes become as concrete, as the other “truths” that you take for granted in your life. Not the “I hopes”, but the “I ams” that define you. “I am [insert adjectives here.]”
I think this is where the fear comes in. Because not only can love shine a light in on you that redefines the “I Am” statements, but we fear that it can take all the “I Hopes” with it if it goes away. That is scary, indeed.
If your new love and you “hope” to go to Asia together, and then break-up, it’s as if Asia left with him. But it didn’t, Asia is still there, and you can still go. If you hope to start a restaurant together, and he disappears, you can still do it.
The hope doesn’t go away. Hope is the gift that love brings as a hostess-gift in your heart, and it stays, long after the party is over. In fact, all the gifts that love brings to you do that, they stay, long after the dashing man who was bearing them is gone (if, indeed, he does go.)
That’s the other thing I was thinking about, as another oft-heard sentence was uttered. “I’ve never been in love like this.” It is uttered in a way to imply that this one, THIS VERY ONE, is better than the others, and you were wrong about the others. But that’s not true either.
The last ones were the best they could be at the time. At each time, they may well have been the best one ever. But “ever” is a moving target. I remembered the last time that I was in love. I declared it then and there to be the best love ever, it was the one.
I stand by that. With a slight modifier. I loved him madly, and I loved our love. In many ways, he taught me that I was capable of the kind of wide open and hopeful love that I crave. That is such a risk, and such a reward. I had not felt it prior to him, and because of him I knew what it was. learned how to do it, and that I could do it. I also learned what pitfalls to look for that I don’t want, thanks to him.
Just as importantly, I learned that when love goes, it leaves its gifts and its lessons. And that is the point of love. The things I learned that I wanted from him, that I once thought we would do together, I still want and will do without him. All that hope is yours, forever. You have learned new things about yourself, and you can keep them. You have new hopes and dreams for the future, and you can keep them. The man who brought them to you is merely the messenger.
Sure, I hope it lasts. Of course I do. I love love. I love being in love. I believe in both love and being in love. But it starts and ends with you. With you being able to handle the hope, and open yourself up to the future. It’s the scariest thing I know.
But it’s the best thing I know. Because living in a state of pure hope is to be more fully alive and in touch with yourself than in any other state. Even when it’s someone else who touches you, it is you that you learn to love. You, and everything you can be.