An Open Letter from a Girl Confused About Love

By: Rawan Khalil

For me, love has always been undefined. There is this giant question mark next to it. It is intangible, and even though I am not really a person that judges by her head using calculations and making plans, mostly I do with my emotions and my gut feeling. However, love remains indefinite – something I do not think I am capable of expressing, feeling, or receiving. I think the closest emotion I have to loving something or someone is really liking them (this may be a false statement, or maybe one I will contradict later on – I am that confused). I love my family but that seems default, I have passions and hobbies but do I love them or do I just really enjoy doing them? Does enjoying something (or someone?) equate with loving it/them?

I have avoided the word for so long, and I feared ever using it. I used to say liking is temporary but loving lasts forever. But, now I think that is a flawed statement. I think love is a word used to describe an overwhelming sense of emotion at a specific moment and that doesn’t necessarily mean it will last forever, and shying away from using the word is actually in a sense toxic. Or is it? I mean you are not allowing yourself to fully feel and fully accept those feelings you have and that seems toxic, but maybe it’s fear or just purely not knowing what love feels like. We are always told: you will know when you’re in love. Does that mean we are supposed to seek love? Does it mean we are supposed to look for it? Or is it just a statement which means it will come for us? You do not know that yellow is actually called yellow without someone telling you because if someone tells you yellow is blue as a child you’ll grow up believing that. It’s the people who know who put the lines on the dots, so how are we supposed to know something just by ourselves?

Most people would say the opposite of love is hate, but I think the opposite of love is pain. I do not mean it in a sense of which you either love or hate a person because that is actually a scale which is blurred and indefinite, actually I think it’s a non-linear blurred scale. I do not mean it in the sense of an expressed feeling but more in the sense of the wholesome sensation and overwhelming feelings you have. I also do not think they are mutually exclusives; you can love someone so much to the point that it hurts.

The thing with pain is that we feel it more often than not, if you just broke up with a person you do not feel hate- or at least you should not feel hatred towards that person, but instead you feel hurt because a beautiful journey where you felt fulfilled is now over, and the person you thought you loved is not there anymore. Here is when 3 years ago I would say: you did not love them because it didn’t last and you just really liked them. Now, even though I have never experienced that I think I was wrong because you should not put down an emotion just because you do not have it anymore. Let us say you were angry at a person, and then you find out that whatever angered you wasn’t their fault that does not mean that you were not angry at them, however, it just means that you no longer are. In the same way, you can no longer be in love with a person which you once loved.

Still, there is a question mark.

Still, I have many questions.

Still, love remains a mystery.

How would love differ from appreciation and liking?

Why is it glorified and glamorized by some but dread by others?

Why do some seek it, and others try to avoid it?

Is love perfection- or the lack thereof? To be love: does it have to be reciprocated? or can it be a painful journey of tears late at night in your bed, and everytime you see them you bite your lips and dig your nails into your hands, swallowing your pain and forcing a smile while hoping a tear doesn’t slip out of your eyes. You walk all the way to them and start a conversation, your heart flutters a little as you tell a joke that they laugh to, but you know it means nothing and it kind of hurts, but you still like it a lot. You hesitate before you text them, and when you send that message you overthink what you typed, even though you do not do that with anyone else. You check your phone every few minutes and when they reply your eyes glimmer with delight if they wrote more than one word, and once again you hesitate before carrying the conversation on. Every few days that pass without seeing them, you miss them a lot, they are always on your mind when you are doing your chores, when you’re listening to a sad or a happy song, reading a book or going out with your friends. But, you do your best not to bring them up because maybe you will cry. Or maybe, you do not want them to think that you like them a lot, or maybe it gets annoying because you talk about them a lot. Or maybe, you do not want your friends to know in the first place. So, you say nothing. You brush the thought off and pretend like it wasn’t there but you know it was, and you know it still is, but you fight the temptation to bring them up.

Sometimes it hurts when you text them and they do not text back, and it also hurts when you talk to them and you turn around and they’re no longer there. It hurts when you stand in a group where they are standing but they show you no attention. It hurts because it is confusing.

Is that love? Is it love if it hurts so much? Is it love if you do not know what it means? Or is it pain because you feel lonely? Or is it pain because it is all speculations?

All the stories in books, movies and tv shows serve perfection, all these extreme standards of what it means to be in love, to find your one ‘true love’, your ‘soulmate’ and it gets me questioning if these things are real, because books are fictional and so are movies, and fiction is too perfect, too unreal, so out of reach- it is a place where the good always wins, and that good doesn’t always win in real life and so it’s hard to believe, and it is hard to clutch to the hope that such beautiful stories are waiting for us out there- waiting for me out there.

Falling in love has never really been my thing to the point that almost every single guy I liked was so far away, they were people I never had a chance with. People that I see from a distance, or ones that I will never meet again. Until I actually liked someone for them. I finally found a person whom I like so fucking much it fucking hurts sometimes. It pains my heart. It fucks up my emotions and maybe even cloud my judgement. But, I do not fucking hate it nor do I like it. I hate that I am not in control. I hate that it is bigger than me and more powerful than me.

-Yours with tears, from my room where the lights are off

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