Debbie's Perspective

Just my thoughts of the day.

Love’s Layers – My Journey

on February 23, 2013

Love is one of those elusive things that has many layers which only time and experience can uncover. There are Aha! moments where you believe you’ve found the answer to its meaning, but I propose that those moments are just the realization of a new layer you never knew existed before.

As a child, love was my mother serving me chicken noodle soup, Sprite, and saltine crackers when I was sick. My mother is the hinge pin in my understanding of love. She was the first to model it for me as she went about taking care of our family. She was always there for me; interested in my thoughts, friends, and life. Even when she was angry, her voiced raised and eyes narrowed, I knew without a doubt she still loved me. Love to me as a little girl was all about being safe and taken care of.

Boys, boys, boys! Oh how they changed my view of love. Unearthing another layer to love’s secrets brought a roller coaster ride of emotions. I began to experience the heart pounding, butterfly evoking type of love. My heart was whipped around from elation to heartache and back again. While exhilarating, thankfully it was only the birth pains of true and lasting love.

Once married and living day to day with my husband, a new discovery of love came about in a less pleasurable kind of way. This discovery, filled with eye opening clarity that only reality can bring, was quite necessary to the longevity of my love for my husband; the hard work of commitment.

I first heard about commitment in the pre-marriage classes we took. I sat there nodding my head as we were told that there would be days that you didn’t feel love for your spouse, but a commitment to them and your marriage would get you through. At the time, I didn’t understand what it really meant or what it would look like. I was under the illusion that I would always feel this emotion filled love for my husband. It didn’t matter that everyone else I knew had lost that early lover’s elation and moved on into a more steady solid love. To me that love looked boring and lifeless. We were different; we would be like the romance novel lovers with a little less drama.

It’s amazing how towels on the bathroom floor, having very little money, and differing views on how things should get done can send you head long into understanding commitment. Your eyes are opened to the fact that you can really love someone, but not really like them some days. What once seemed like a boring lifeless love looked different from the inside. It was safety.

I was beginning to realize that my mother’s commitment to me is what brought the feelings of safety into my life. It was now my commitment to my husband and his to me that brought safety into our marriage. There were moments when he still made my heart pound and butterflies flutter in my stomach, but I realized without the commitment it would just be the emotion filled rollercoaster I had known as a teenager.

Children can definitely open your eyes to a layer of love called responsibility. In my life, the moment I understood this truth happened when our first son, Taylor, was a month old. It was a stormy evening with the threat of tornadoes around us. The wind began to blow hard, and the tree in front of our tiny duplex began to whip around violently. With the fear that a tornado was on top of us, we ran to our small utility room and huddled on the floor. My baby son was sleeping in my arms totally oblivious to the danger around him. As I leaned over him with my husband leaning over me, I realized that I would willingly give my life for this precious baby boy. I would put myself between him and whatever came at us.

As my husband leaned over us both, it occurred to me that he was willingly putting himself between us and harm’s way. My heart swelled with love for him at that moment. I realized then that not only were we committed to each other for a lifetime, but we were responsible for each other and this child of ours. This knowledge added a weighty layer to what I understood as love, but a layer that bound us together in a way we never could be without it.

Responsibility is that part of love that binds you together during the hard times. It’s the part that says, “I’ve got your back, and I know you’ve got mine.”

I’ve been married to my husband now for almost 30 years. We’ve had lots of opportunities to practice commitment and responsibility, as well as experience emotion as high as the clouds and as deep as the ocean. Love is like that. When you love someone very deeply, they can elicit the most wonderful joy, but also the scariest anger.

When Taylor was nine we adopted a baby girl, Grace. We were at the birth, and held her just moments after she was born. She instantly was our baby. When she was four months old she was diagnosed with a terminal muscle disease. Two months later we were finalizing her adoption when the case worker asked us if we had considered not adopting her and giving her back. The thought was ludicrous to us. She was our child. Again, that sense of responsibility in love came to the surface. I was willing to do whatever it took to take care of her. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t given birth to her, she was my baby nonetheless.

There were days of feeding tubes, breathing treatments, and hospice nurses. We loved her deeply through it all. This is the layer of love I can’t explain. It is the layer of love that is commitment, responsibility, and emotion even when you can’t get anything in return. I guess you could call it the unconditional part of love.

Our daughter relocated to heaven just two weeks after her first birthday. With all the parts of love in place between me and my husband, we survived the heartache. We needed them all to get through it.

Six months later we adopted another baby girl. Our daughter, Hope, is healthy and strong, and a total joy to our lives. Just 18 months after Hope was born, I gave birth to our son, Carson. He was a big surprise. After 19 years of marriage, infertility, multiple miscarriages, and adoptions I had given birth to a boy.

Life continues to surprise us. When Carson was two, we learned he had autism. That journey is another story, but it has taught me many more life lessons along the way, and continues to develop my understanding of love. I don’t know if there are any more layers I haven’t uncovered yet or if I will just continue to learn the complexities of the layers I already know. All I do know is it takes a lifetime to truly understand the meaning of love.

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One response to “Love’s Layers – My Journey

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow Debbie! Well done…

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