Valjean Clark

On love

I know life is getting weird for me when I’m writing about love. I suppose that’s a strange admission. People seem to use the word “love” regularly, comfortably, and assuredly.

For me it’s an odd word that has never felt quite right. Maybe it’s the same for others. My family says “I love you” to another, and I think for us that means something like “I care about you”, “I wish the best for you”, and “I’d support you if you needed help”. And that’s all great and true, but it seems to mean something more to others.

I think for the first time, I thought of what a deeper sense of love might mean to me: feeling deeply understood and accepted by another.

“Understood” in particular resonates, because it’s not a feeling I’ve felt often in life. The idea that I could let my guard down and just be able to express whatever is on my mind feels very foreign to me, but it sounds increasingly appealing the older I get. It’s tiring to maintain all these compatibility layers with others years after year.

Perhaps what I am describing is not love, but rather a deep sense of peace with oneself and with others, and love emerges somehow after that feeling of peace settles in.