It was January, and back home where I lived, the roads were paved with ice, but I was somewhere new, not that far away, yet in a world that felt completely different. I sat in my lounge chair by the pool, reading Amanda Kloots's “Live Your Life.” I felt the warm sun and cool Caribbean breeze across my face and chest. I would look at him in awe every so often, with his deep blue eyes, sun-kissed complexion, and thick gray hair blowing in the Caribbean breeze as it swept across his face. His body was so sexy. He was so sexy. It felt as if all was well in the world. I was safe. I was happy, for the first time in a very long time, until I felt my world shatter as he uttered the dreaded words – “I don't think this is working anymore.” It was our love story's official and blindsided ending, but was it love?
I questioned how I fell in so deep at lightning speed. Did I really know this person or see him for who he was? Did he really know me or see me for who I was?
I met him reasonably when thirsty for attention, praise, admiration, and romance. Shortly after we met, he offered all that to me on a golden platter. He told me I was a gift that G-d sent him and reminded me how lucky we were to find one another. Whenever I was not there by his side, I would get messages about how much he missed me or how his place felt empty without my presence. We began discussing the future that would never manifest as I had hoped. After just a few dates together, it was very quickly that he jetted me off in first-class luxury to the Caribbean. This would be the first of several trips and memories we would create. Behind every door of our hotel suite, my path was paved with rose petals, platters of wine, fruit, cheese, and a bottle of champagne. No matter where we were, every room had a direct and panoramic ocean view with some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I had ever seen.
I was undeniably convinced that I had found myself forever. But, unfortunately, it was only the romantic ideal that we've all been sold. The plan that we have been conditioned to believe — that this is precisely what love is supposed to look like.
I was, in fact, the victim of this idealized version of love. I was the victim who was sold because this person showed me exactly who he was and that this was all I needed to create a blissful life together. On some level, I even felt entitled to his gestures, romantic getaways, and fiery passion. I had spent years drowning in sadness and uncertainty over the monotony of my prior marriage and having this new romance made me feel alive again.
But I learned the hard way that real love does not require us to be seduced by an ideal. Real love requires us to live, and thrive in our everyday lives together, even when they are not always beautiful or magical. Because living in the ideal eventually fades, we soon learn that we cannot survive there for the long term.
Real love does not require us to rescue or be rescued. Instead, it allows us to show up in our truth and to give someone else a chance to show up in theirs. We allow each other to be seen exactly as we are.
Love takes time to grow, whereas ideals keep us locked into only one obsessive and infatuated love phase.
So perhaps the goal is not just falling in love but staying in love. Being able to sustain something for the long haul, beyond just the seduction of the honeymoon phase, but the everyday life phase, rather than being sold by a fantasy of what it is not.
Because all that is required of true love is a sacred place for us to show up in our truth, it is a place where we can be honest, beautiful, messy, and flawed, yet still accepted because there is nothing more charming, passionate, or seductive than offering ourselves to another, precisely as we are.
“I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.”
― Steve Maraboli
Shari Tischler is a nurse by day, writer by night. Thinker. Dreamer. Introvert at heart. Lover of animals, art, and words. Follow her on instagram at Shari_rn1984 and her website https://shari-tischler-writer.com/