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Love is...

Untangling the Meaning of Love

By Natasja RosePublished 2 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - February 2024
Love is...
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

I was actually intrigued by this challenge, because to me, love has always been many different things.

There's no point in untangling the meaning of love, because it's a rope of many fibers, intristinctly linked. Seperate them, and the whole thing falls apart. The tangled threads of love are a Gordian Knot, impossible to untangle (unless you're Alexander the Great-At-Solving-Problems-With-A-Sword...)

Platonic love, familial love, romantic love, self-love, love for a hobby or a cause... none of those loves are inherently less than any of the others, just different.

There is no One True Way to love someone. Sure, there are broad strokes that hold true across the spectrum, but love isn't a checklist that you tick off to make sure you're doing Romance correctly.

Respect, common interests, boundaries, communication... all those things are important for a healthy kind of love, but they're building blocks, not the whole structure.

Love is sharing. It's making space in your life for other people, carving out a space for them to fill, however they like. Friends, family, romantic partners... you make room for them, without diminishing yourself.

Love is honesty. It's being yourself, with someone else, not just when you're alone.

Love is trust. It's showing the best and worst of yourself, and believing that you're worthy of being loved, flaws and all. Sometimes people break that trust, but sometimes the risk is worth it.

Love is patience and kindness. Life isn't always sunshine and rainbows, and you and the people you love won't always agree. Sometimes you'll fight, sometimes you need to take a deep breath and a walk before you sit down to work things out. But Love means being there for the hardest times in a person's life, and having them there to help when it's your turn to struggle.

Love is strength. It's not just you doing a thing anymore, and having someone to support you lets you do more than you originally thought you could.

Love is healing. The common quote is that in order to be loved, you must first love and be loveable. I think it can go in any order. In order to be lovable, you must believe yourself worthy of love, or doubt and self-deprecation will poison the relationship. It's much easier to love when you have hope that your love is requited, as per Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado about Nothing.

Love is life. A life empty of love, in whatever form it exists, is no life at all. Love gives you the energy to keep going when things are hard, the motivation to get out of bed in the morning.

Love is a lesson. Every relationship I've had has taught me something, even if I didn't realise it at the time. To quote a favourite musical: 'I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason/Bringing something we must learn, and we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them.'

There have been times that my love has been tested, and times when love made me feel transformed.

I met Atlanta around the age of 4, in Gumnut Guides. We reconnected in High School, and were best friends from then onward. She's my 'sister from another mister', as the saying goes. Much like actual sisters, we've argued, been angry at each other, and supported each other when it mattered most.

When my twin died, Atlanta dropped everything to come over whenever I called needing someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on, because with Sally gone, Atlanta felt like the only other person in the world who understood without needing words. I went with Atlanta to get a protective order against her abusive ex-boyfriend, and told him that if he showed up at my place again, I'd be answering the door with a sword.

I'm a re-enactor and a history nerd. I not only have a sword, but also a staff, three bows, arrows of various types, and a few very pretty daggers. I don't have great aim at a target, but I'm fairly consistent with groin-shots with the combat blunts...

(Oddly enough, he didn't try again. Autistic Resting Hostility Face has it's benefits...)

When Atlanta struggled with her mental health as a result of said abusive ex-, I left the house at 2:00 AM in the middle of winter, to sit with her at the park until the ambulance arrived. The second time it happened, I realised that I couldn't heal this with love and support, and called the amublance myself.

Atlanta didn't speak to me for six months, until she was involuntarily admitted and finally got the therapy she needed. I visited her in the inpatient facility as often as I could. She apologised for lashing out at me, and I forgave her.

We're both adults with extremely busy jobs now, and don't get to see each other as often, but we still reconnect on birthdays and whenever we get the chance. We text and message each other frequently, and even if we don't meet in person as often as we'd like, there's still that connection.

My Platonic relationship with Atlanta taught me that love isn't a magical cure-all, and that sometimes you need to take several steps back until that person is ready to be helped. It also taught me that it's never too late to apologise, or to ask or offer forgiveness.

Learning to love myself was a transformative experience.

As the victim of bullying well into my teen years, followed by the trauma of my twin's death, my self-esteem and sense of self was well and truly shot by the time I hit adulthood.

Joining the Society for Creative Anachronism went a long way toward accepting and being myself, in all my weird, eccentric, nerdy glory. Once I did that, I found myself feeling more confident and motivated.

Once I was no longer perpetually terrified of everyone hating me, I started making friends and friendly acquaintances, and speaking up for myself more.

When I was comfortable acting that way in social settings, I started expanding that attitude into professional and family settings. I stopped shutting down to "keep the peace" and started advocating for myself and my needs. I stopped putting up with bad behaviour just because everyone else was.

Learning to love myself changed my life for the better.

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About the Creator

Natasja Rose

I've been writing since I learned how, but those have been lost and will never see daylight (I hope).

I'm an Indie Author, with 30+ books published.

I live in Sydney, Australia

Follow me on Facebook or Medium if you like my work!

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Comments (14)

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  • The Invisible Writer2 months ago

    This was breathtaking thank you for sharing this part of your journey with us

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Jazmyne Jaxxon2 months ago

    Great read... thank you for sharing this with us! 🙏👏😊

  • Anthony Chan2 months ago

    Wow! Love your deep unwinding story! Excellent work!

  • MICHAEL ADEYANJU2 months ago

    love has never been painted in a clearer picture than this. I love it. Cheers!

  • Your analysis of the complexity and variety of forms that love may take in our lives truly resonated with me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the diverse nature of love.

  • an2 months ago


  • Raphael Fontenelle2 months ago

    Interesting introspection that's really awesome.

  • "Well, I don't know if I believe that's true, but I know I'm who I am today because I knew you." You had me the moment you quoted one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals, "Wicked". "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good," is what is inscribed across the bottom of our son's tombstone. Your description of your treatment of Atlanta's ex was epic! Your description of your relationship with Atlanta is worthy of finest & most heart-rending of cinematic treatments. I appreciate you sharing all this with us, Natasja.

  • Oneg In The Arctic2 months ago

    I love how you untangled love yet still preserved all its complexities. Love is really so much.

  • Excellent points and a good challenge entry

  • Mother Combs2 months ago

    Great entry

  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    I did not know you were a twin. I am very sorry for your loss. MLove gives you the energy to keep going when things are hard, and motivation to get out of bed in the morning.y favorite line in this story is ". I agree love is a lesson. Everyone needs their approach to love for sure. I am glad your friend Atlanta is better and you stayed friends.

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