In a pivotal moment in one of my all-time favorite movies, Moonstruck, Ronny Cammareri tells the woman he loves:
Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice -- it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!
Love doesn't make things nice. Love does ruin everything. It complicates everything. The fairy tales only tell us about falling in love, not about staying in love. The staying part is the work. If you're brave, if you take risks, if you're willing to make a complete ass of yourself — make yourself plain and naked with all your faults and weaknesses laid bare for this other person to see — then maybe just maybe you'll last a bit.
But who wants to do any of that?
Why on earth would you make yourself vulnerable to someone with sharp talons and a flesh-tearing beak? We're all capable of tearing each other to bits. Don't give me that, "He would never or she would never" baloney because all really is fair in love and war. One thing for sure is that when your ego is threatened, you're gonna dance. You're gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a mother-effin' bee.
You won't care if it's a girl. You'll punch her in the face.
You won't care if it's Prince Charming. You'll go for his nut sack.
Well, figuratively, at least.
My therapist once told me that conflict brings people closer together. I thought he was completely high off his Freudian pipe. Okay, he didn't have a pipe, but he looked as though he should. I've spent my life running from conflict. I dodge and weave. I duck and cover. I slip out the back, yo.
I remember when my mom went to rehab when I was 12, the counselors assembled us all in a room and asked each one of the kids to role play with one of the alcoholic parents. (This would forever ruin any sort of role play for me.) We each took a turn acting out what we would say to our alcoholic parent if we could say anything.
"What would you say, Mandy? What would you say if you could say anything?"
Standing in the center of a roomful of adult addicts and their children sitting on plastic chairs, I crossed my arms over my chest and shook my head.
"Tell us what you would do, Mandy."
"I would go climb a tree," I said when it was clear they wouldn't bug off. So they had me walk off in the corner and sit in my metaphorical tree. It felt like punishment.
I guess my therapist's point was that if you spend your life sitting in an imaginary tree avoiding conflict, you're never going to get close to anyone. Life is messy here on the ground. You trip. People screw with you. You're clumsy with your words and your actions. You hurt the people you love.
You make a complete donkey of yourself.
You say things you didn't mean.
You interpret their actions through the filter of the past. You don't see anyone for who they really are, but more for what they can do for you or how they make you feel. But that's not love.
Love is messy.
It tears you up.
You've got to get in there and confront it. You've got to cry and let your nose get all snotty. You've got to tell each other when you're hurt and you've got to keep telling each other until you both get it. You keep talking until somebody figures out that you both just want to be loved.
So say something nice. Say you love me still and I'll do the same for you. Wipe my nose and I'll wipe yours even though it's gross. Hug me, even though I'm this ruinous twelve-year-old girl inside who can only fold her arms and walk away. Hang in there because it's 25 years later and I'm finally learning to turn back around, re-enter the circle and speak my mind.
This is another old post from the unpublished vault. I wrote it when I was still dating my now husband. I'm still learning how to speak my mind. We're both still learning that we both just want to be loved. Yep, we're pretty lucky to have found each other.