I finally figured out how to describe that stupid "falling in love" feeling that we experience at one point or another in life:
You're wearing socks. Nothing out of the ordinary, maybe you even wore them yesterday. And maybe the day before that. You're brushing your teeth, staring into the mirror while foaming at the mouth. Your cell phone rings from downstairs. You can't let the mystery caller hear your terrible voicemail you've procrastinated to change, so you run to answer it. You make it down three stairs when the arch of your foot hits the edge with too much of your own force behind it. Your foot shoots down to the next stair, and while it lands safely under your weight, your spine shivers behind your wavering stomach, which now seems to be located in your ribcage. That wavering, the sense of panic, that "woof, that could have ended badly" feeling: that's it.
I'm not sure why I liken the love feeling to the sensation of inclement fear, probably because love is scary. If Donnie Darko has taught us anything, it's that the only existing feelings are love and fear and that Noah Wyle's career clearly depended on the success of ER. So why does that upside down feeling cling to the bones which make up my chest cavity when I relive memories where I felt infinite?
Another way to describe the stupid love feeling: you're on your way to the airport. You're running through the mental list of things you did bring and suddenly you remember something you were supposed to bring. Of course, the pink disposable razor from Target can easily be replaced by another razor that has at max two sessions. It's that feeling you left something behind, that you aren't complete, that you can't navigate life without it.
Love is one of those feelings you can't avoid: it just happens to you, often times without specifically searching for it. You can technically avoid it by drinking alcohol every day and shutting yourself in your room while having minimal contact with those who really care about you, but that process isn't ideal. You aren't hacking your way through a sweaty jungle with a machete and a guide who doesn't speak your language in search of the emotion that drives people to ambiguous Facebook posts, texts you wish you could take back, irrational and spontaneous decisions, and in severe cases, standing outside of someone's window with a boombox over your head. Love is difficult to stifle, so why do we try to harbor the raw sensations of compassion, lust, and respect?
I can only speak for myself, but my reservations about shouting a name from the summit of a Swiss mountaintop spawned as a specific series of unfortunate events. Lemmony Snicket doesn't know shit when it comes to my 2004 and it would definitely make a horrible movie. Experiences shape us while instilling a sense of fight or flight for when similar circumstances manifest in the future. This is going to be a poor example, but it's the best I've got right now: remember when you got food poisoning from the first time you ever ate a torta from that sketchy taco truck parked behind a Dress Barn in Kearney, Nebraska? Obviously you're going to cautiously approach your next torta with a Plan B consisting of a quesadilla or maybe just chips and mild salsa. As I excited leave this stupid Mexican food metaphor behind, it's no wonder that when an experience leaves us feeling abandoned, rejected, alone, or isolated, we harbor the memory for when we encounter a similar situation in the future.
Over the last ten years, I have approached most situations with a PROCEED WITH CRIPPLING CAUTION AND EXPECT TO GET HURT EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE attitude. Although this mind frame has been unconditionally exhausting, I think it has saved me from feeling vulnerable. But do I really need saving from vulnerability? Why can't I feel vulnerable without simultaneously feeling weak?
Entrusting someone else with one of the most powerful feelings is scary. I word-vomited big time because I binge feel, and I can't shove my carefully chosen words back into my facehole. They are out there, plump and yearning to stain the carpet. I've felt incredibly vulnerable in both the past and the present because I have opened myself to people who could potentially deny me of emotional reciprocation, or that the sense of love is to be met with warm eyes and hands. Once that card gets revoked more than once, you begin to think it's you. Every time I've been left in an unfavorable situation, I always wonder if it has something to do with me. Is it my fault they don't feel the same way? Could I have been more available? More receptive? More compassionate? It's a bad habit I've developed over the last few years. I can step back from a break up or a separation and know it's not me, but why do I still blame myself? It's because of that first torta and I can't learn from my mistakes.
Currently I'm in this limbo of how I feel versus and the words I choose to describe those same feelings. There are feelings of regret, caution, and safety, all of which are nagging at me in the form of anxiety. You went through this already! Don't you remember what happened last time? Don't you remember how bad you felt and how long it took you to recover? Are you going to put yourself in that same position again?
Love is the "restore factory settings" over all of your other emotions that should matter but they don't. Perhaps the idea of hope makes you do stupid things, like the boombox scenario or not learning from your Nebraskan torta dry heave. It could be our biological drive, or the extreme sense of connection to another human being who makes you feel complete, and that if you lost that person, your purpose in life is withering.
Yesterday I was crying on the floor in my room when my five-year-old nephew came in and found me. He sat on the floor with me and put a hand on my back. "Auntie, sometimes you just need to be sad but it's okay. You just need to start over." I was pretty floored by the compassion that oozed from this banana-scented tiny person. "Starting over" meant giving up the hope that was fueling the swoony text messages, ideas for future plans, selfies. "Starting over" meant learning how to trust someone new all over again. "Starting over" meant putting myself on lockdown until I need to fear someone else will take the rug out from under me.
So where does this leave me? Starting over and forcing said hope down into the abyss where my drinking problem is located would mean giving up on how I really feel. In short, I've placed myself in a vulnerable situation because of the feelings I cannot ignore. I'm continually nauseated from slipping down the stairs in my socks, and I'm scared to go barefoot. Going barefoot would mean starting over, and I really like the chances I'm taking when I wear socks. Holy shit I am also really disappointed in the metaphors I've chosen to use throughout this post.