In the Amazon Prime Series Fleabag written and starred in by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the author’s main journey focuses on self love. A journey in which she becomes sure of herself through love, sex, and rejection by others. The second season is filled with love, though a love which deviates from our social norms — the main character “Fleabag” falls in love with a priest and pursues a romantic relationship despite the heartache it will cause them both.
In one of the last episodes of the series, the Priest gives a homily about love, wherein, his character struggles to come up with something original about love and he settles on,
“Love is awful. It’s awful. It’s painful. It’s frightening. It makes you doubt yourself, judge yourself, distance yourself from the other people in your life. It makes you selfish. It makes you creepy, makes you obsessed with your hair, makes you cruel, makes you say and do things you never thought you would do. It’s all any of us want, and it’s hell when we get there. So no wonder it’s something we don’t want to do on our own. I was taught if we’re born with love then life is about choosing the right place to put it. People talk about that a lot, feeling right, when it feels right it’s easy. But I’m not sure that’s true. It takes strength to know what’s right. And love isn’t something that weak people do. Being a romantic takes a hell of a lot of hope. I think what they mean is, when you find somebody that you love, it feels like hope.”
I echo Waller-Bridge’s sentiments entirely, love is a painfully raw thing to experience. It makes you question all the values you had about yourself. Love makes you hate yourself and love yourself at the same time for finding happiness, sometimes in the most difficult of situations.
Love will test the boundaries of your existing relationships, and how to navigate new priorities. I have struggled to maintain a loving relationship, while being enticed by shiny and dazzling opportunities of work and fun. I fail at balancing this task more often than I succeed.
Recently, when asked how I know I am no longer in love with someone, I found this answer one I cannot give very easily. Not because it is not easily known, but because it is an answer so difficult to put into words. To know you are no longer in love with someone is to know how you knew you loved them in the first place.
I cannot describe this any differently than hoping for a free weekend morning between you and the one you hope to be with — to wake up next to one another and run your fingers dancing over the other’s face and arms until they wake up. Then to fade back into a comfortable and safe sleep when they put their arms around you in a moment of consciousness.
It’s a morning where music is played softly and coffee is made far after the sun has woken to greet everyone else who cannot spend a slow morning with their newfound space of safety and comfort. It is on those mornings, which you scour your calendar for, when the weather does not matter and the things which need to be attended to imminently will be set aside for a later time.
The mornings may encroach into a free afternoon and toast with bananas are the perfect meal; the conversation encompasses everything and nothing, and there is enough silence to fill the Great Lakes but it does not matter because the silence can be the best part. Those mornings last forever on purpose, and they’re endless in my mind. There is no better prayer answered than a morning of peace.
I don’t love someone when I can’t stand not having a morning alone. The coffee cannot come fast enough, there are projects that can be pushed. I have an urgency like no other to finish because I can’t stand to be alone with the person.
This has brought up another question I have: Are we supposed to outgrow our first loves? To move beyond the yearning of the heart, the comfort which in itself was so easy? Do we really break free from the scars of any previous loss or heartbreak? Would life be easier if I found the same love from God as I do from people?
My first love taught me so much more than I could have known — more than books, stories, or from small piecemeal relationships I taped together haphazardly to form the perfect relationship, like a stained glass window put together by a child. My first love was the Sistine chapel of love, so fluid and beautiful and timeless.
No one deserves to be alone, and even worse to know you can never return to the one person who loved you so deeply and showed you all the warmth love can bring. The person who first showed you boring love is so exciting because it is steady, dependable, routine. A boring love who gets excited to share your favorite latest book or lets you take a nap with your head in his lap.
I was lucky enough to fall in love a second time with another wonderful person. He taught me to have fun and take advantage of the little moments we have, because truly, they are all we have. They must be cherished and stored carefully for the rest of our lives.
I am in love when I search for the slow mornings. I set time aside, I finish work early, I delay plans with friends and coworkers. I delay any and all obligations. I know I am in love when there seems to be not enough of these mornings to come, and still, I pray for them to never end.
Life has pushed me into a position where I am the strongest and most independent woman my friends and family know me to be. In some ways, this reads to others as heartless. But then again, only the people I am in love with and who I love will know I search my calendar like no other for those slow mornings.
One of the best things about shows like Fleabag is the ability to show the most painful things about oneself, and still know there are people out there who care to see you become a wonderful person. They reassure young people like me that there is not any end to growing up and learning from your mistakes.
A true first love is painful and difficult. It was difficult to leave because it was so comforting. Leaving it was like walking around naked on a cold day; I struggled to cover myself in the same warmth with which I had been provided.
I’ve since knitted myself a blanket of my own acceptance. I know someday I will discard this warm blanket to meet someone in the depths of love but for now, I do alright.