I've rattled around most of today in my PJ's just chilling... only to suddenly sit up a couple hours ago and wonder what I would be writing in my blog today... "writers block" - said with a touch of sarcasm...
The last 3 days has seen me nose buried in a book received for Christmas, Max du Preez's latest book, A Rumour of Spring. A look at the last 20 years in SA. I'm 3/4's of the way through and will be sad when finished. Brilliantly written, entertaining and informative. Even if you are not interested in politics get a copy and read it.
However that was NOT what was in my hands today. My brain needed a bit of time off so I picked up a book of my mom's. Something I knew I could 'klap' in a couple of hours and not have to put too much attention or thought into... an easy read Mills & Boon. Something most women have read at some point or the other in their lives.
Many a teenage girl has snuck one out the library to be read under the covers at night... heart beating wondering when your hero will come and sweep you off your feet and drug you with his kisses and impose his will on you... hmmm you can probably see where I'm headed with this. M&B is formula driven. That is what makes it so popular. Boy meets girl. Girl hates boy. Boy sweeps girl off her feet. Girl falls in love. 'Sex'. Boy hurts girls. Girl runs away. Boy chases after her and they reconcile and live happily ever after.... Yes ladies even the 'modern' versions are still the same and you know what - we are STILL reading them... which in itself sends a message that we all seem to be still looking for that love that will sweep us off our feet and leave us breathless.
My question is : Does that kind of love exist?
We all know how it is in the first hazy days and weeks and months of a new relationship. The hearts beat with anticipation to see each other, each kiss leaves you breathless, each word is hung on to as if it was gospel. We take time with our appearance. We don't get irritated - in fact we tolerate far more than we probably would or should. (And this all goes for the men as well. )
Things then slowly change. Routines are established. Life seems to hit the ground with a bump and reality returns. We get irritated over seemingly small things, 'But honey you never complained before when I left my wet towel on your side of the bed?' ' But love you used to spend hours in the mall with me, why do you want to go watch rugby now?'. Love starts to feel like a chore. What brought you together now seems to drive us apart.
I know I read Mills & Boon but I agree with what a lot of the critics say about that particular genre of writing. It imposes almost impossible expectations on both sexes. Having spent 5 years as a single mom in between marriages I learnt very quickly to be independent. If things needed doing then 8/10 times I would have to 'rescue' myself. It taught me I was capable. If something went bang in the middle of the night I didn't have a big burly man around to go sort it out... I would have to go investigate myself and hope like hell there was nobody breaking in! Even now that I am married having a husband who works away means I still investigate things that go bump in the night.
The reality of life means you cannot expect your spouse or significant other to sweep you off your feet and keep you off the ground. You have to be prepared to touch down. Maybe he will face difficulties that mean you need to be strong one for a while. Perhaps you will need to be the breadwinner. Or the one that checks for bumps in the night as he works away to support your family. Whatever your situation I believe we need to re-think our expectations of our partners. Accept they are going to irritate you. Accept they are not perfect. Accept they may never sweep you off your feet, Some loves burn hot and swiftly, others are a slow steady flame providing just enough illumination for you to see the way.
And yes you will also get to experience many different kinds of 'romantic' loves in your lifetime. Appreciate each and every one of them at the time. Sometimes you may even experience them at the same time. Yes you can love two people at the same time in very different ways. The other thing about love is that different people fulfil different roles in our lives. Love touches us in different ways at different times in our lives.
I do believe that to experience any love you also need to love yourself first.
Do not try and complete yourself with romantic love. It is bound to only end in heartbreak and disaster. If you can't love yourself or find worth in yourself you are going to consistently pick partners who don't love you and don't see your worth.... trust me - I know. A lot of the female leads in the Mills & Boon books are waiting for a man to 'save' her. You selling yourself short if you find yourself playing that role and waiting for that man.
So to answer my question.... No I don't believe the love found in about 180 pages of a Mills & Boon romance novel exists. It is unrealistic. There is too much expectation on perfection. We all know perfect does not exist. Reality means you will fight, you will be irritated, you will disagree - over small things and over big things, you will wonder if you made a mistake, you will sometimes even wonder if the grass is greener on the other side, but what will hold it all together is the love... it won't always fix the hurts but it will make them easier to bear and it will help to know that while he (or she) may not be rescuing you they are your partner and they have your back.
And one last word... always love with your whole heart, you may not have a single guarantee as to how long it will last but don't be left with regrets, and loving with your whole heart means you experience love in all its beauty - no matter how long it lasts.