An old friend once said to me "People accept the love they think they deserve." I heard this dialogue and found myself nodding my internal head, “Yup, yup. So true, so true.” I neatly catalogued the statement in my mind as a “profound cliché” and moved on. Until the middle of that night, when I woke up asking myself the uncomfortable, inevitable question: “So, Dan, what kind of love do you think you deserve?”
Crap crap crap crap crap!!
For the record – I am still working on my own answer. But what has come up for me thus far (after hours of meditating on the question) is that I think I deserve the kind of love that is love. As in, I deserve authentic love – not a list of specific behaviors that culture and society has categorized as “the type of things people should do when they love someone.”
For each different kind of love – platonic, romantic, familial, mentorship, loyalty – there is another list. I suppose these lists are designed to be helpful, such that we can look at our own internal list and decipher how much another person loves us….or doesn’t.
But the truth is – as my mentor has continually been trying to teach me over the years – love doesn’t look like anything other than love. Love itself doesn’t adhere to my list of expectations. Love doesn’t expect itself to act or speak any certain way, to recognize certain holidays (even – gasp – my birthday) or spend time with folks I may like very much but my beloved may not.
Love wouldn’t be love – kind, tough, sensual, and all the other kinds in between – if it allowed a list to announce or control its presence or expression.
So while I still don’t exactly know what kind of love I think I “deserve,” I know what kind of love I want – the only kind there is. I want the kind of love that is love.
And if I think I am deserving of love (which I think that I think I am) then I definitely think I deserve the kind of love that is love. In that case, no other kind will do.