Taking love into the afternoon of our lives

Love.

It is said to make the world go around, and it can evoke our highest highs and our lowest lows.
Poets and composers have captured its essence for centuries, and if we have the privilege of feeling its unconditional presence in our lives, magic can happen.

I say ‘if’ because unconditional love is a rare beast.

As we stride into the ‘freedom years’ love is something that is on the mind of many mid-lifers. (this is unfortunately illustrated by being the biggest demographic represented in divorce statistics)

Whether it be reconnecting with a long-term partner, whom life and everything around it, has taken its toll.

Or whether it be traversing our way through a divorce that seemingly came out of nowhere making emotions raw and all thoughts of what was to be, shattered.

Or in that heady space of a new love where possibilities are alive, the attraction is electric and wounds have not yet opened let alone festered.

Even when we know the twists and turns life holds, we still pin our self-worth of those that love us.
Particularly those that love us most intimately.

Love can be accompanied with fragility, especially when we believe it to be the mirror of who we are and our value to the world around us.

I do believe that at the end of our lives, it is how we love that counts.
Not who, but how.
Have we approached love with openness, honesty and the concept of giving?
Or have we approached love from the concept of what we can gain from its presence?
True, deep love does not come with thoughts of what I can gain? Of how can you serve me? Or now I am saved, and life is complete.
Of I want you there when I bleed in the night however don’t look to me to see you at your most vulnerable?

I do know this, that if we look to what is external to fulfill our loneliness, our aching souls and our breaking hearts, we are vulnerable to more of the same.
For love to work, we need to start with a full tank ourselves. We need to want someone in our lives and not need them.
To neither rescue or be rescued, save or be saved and be whole rather than need to be completed.

As I grow into my own experience of love and observe the experiences of those around me, there are some things I am beginning to see.

  1. True love doesn’t change. Relationships change.
    It is impossible to be in that state of euphoria that newfound love brings. Whether it be the headiness of new love, the overwhelm of a new baby or the anticipation of a new friendship. Relationships change and grow and to hold on to what things were in the beginning, sets us up to be deeply disappointed in people that have done nothing wrong and situations that were always going to change. If love is true, then we can navigate our way around anything
  2. Love is not hard. Relationships are hard. Love is soft and gracious and beautiful. It is our expectations that make it feel hard. Relationships can be fraught because we bring our own story to the table, which can conflict with someone else’s story.
  3. Love doesn’t diminish. We let our stories, our hurts and our unmet expectations impact on it.
  4. Love does not keep score. It sits in honesty, grace and boundaries. It starts with self and radiates out to those in our closest circle and beyond.

Love does indeed make the world go around, and the world now seems to need it more than ever.

I believe in mid-life, we can experience a more precious love than ever because we have had time to understand it is not about anyone else.

It is about us.

And as we all age and change in that ageing, the love we have in our lives becomes even more important.

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