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Love Does Not Conquer All

Yeah, I know there are millions of love songs and romantic films and stories about the greatest love that ever existed. And I know that when you're in love, you think it will last forever.

I know, too, how it feels to believe that your love is so strong, it can survive anything, will withstand anything, and that no matter how much you or your partner might change you will overcome any obstacle that is thrown at you.

I know - all too well - about making a promise to love each other "for better or worse" and most of the time, people really mean it when they say it.

But I also know - all too well - that sometimes love is simply not enough.

There are a couple of very important factors that contribute to this harsh reality. One is the emotional baggage that we carry with us. Another is change.

First, the emotional baggage. My goodness, the damage it can do...bad enough when we know what it is, but when we don't - when we haven't spent any real time discovering what makes us tick, and overcoming past wounds - we will unwittingly contaminate relationships, despite our best intentions.

This gets us in trouble with the "for better or worse" part of marriage. People seem to take this to mean, "I'll love you even if you abuse me. I'll love you if you betray me. I'll love you if you disrespect me, cheat on me, lie to me, violate me, do things behind my back that you know you shouldn't do."

Frankly, none of that kind of behaviour has anything to do with love. I think "for worse" means when we lose jobs, or there are financial troubles or someone wants to change careers and it means a lot of upheaval for the family. Or perhaps there's the offer of a transfer to another city - or country - and one person doesn't want to go. Nobody's right or wrong; there are just obstacles to be overcome.

To my mind, "For worse" refers to the curveballs in life. It should not mean intolerable, unacceptable, unloving behaviour that undermines the whole point and purpose of marriage. Even without the legal tie, or that specific promise, those behaviours are still unacceptable. They are not about love. They have nothing to do with how we should be treating the person we say we love above all others on the planet.

We like to think that loving someone and trying to make a relationship work in such circumstances will bring about positive change. But, when the other person repeatedly refuses to seek help or make an honest attempt to change his or her ways, you're wasting your time.

I've been in too many relationships that were like that, each of us with our own issues that contributed to an unhealthy situation, one of mine often being that I did not respect or value myself enough to stop accepting unacceptable behaviour.

Change is another potential serial killer of relationships. It slaughters couples, silently, over a long period of time, divergence gradually poisoning their happiness until it exists only in their memories. When there is nothing much to talk about, virtually no common ground, a shared dream, a meeting of the minds - and more importantly, no desire to find a way to make it work in spite of the differences - it is time to move on.

And what about a couple that starts out in the same, but then one person changes and grows away from it and into something different, perhaps even something contradictory and then the whole foundation for the relationship is threatened? Should that person be forced to pretend and carry on living a lie, feeling suffocated and unhappy? Or should the other person be forced to change, too, even if it doesn't fit or feel good? I'm sure many people have found a way to make this work. But what about the ones who haven't?

No matter how much people love one another, we are not put on this planet to compromise and suffocate ourselves, or to tolerate disrespect. We are meant to thrive and to be happy, not to stay tied to toxic situations because of love.

What about loving yourself enough to leave a relationship that is destructive? To my mind, that's about the only kind of love that can "conquer all." Self-love automatically means self-respect. Combined, these help us to find our power and inner strength. This is what allows us to become truly happy and fulfilled. It is in this fulfillment that we will find deep and rewarding happiness and accomplishment. And it's from this place that we can offer the most love.

It would be wonderful if love could be as easy as the songs and poems say it is, and if that's all it took to glue two people together and make them happy. But it's not and I've seen it up close and personal more times than I care to remember. I know how it feels to walk away from someone I loved very much because to do anything else would be self-destructive.

I had always believed that as long as I loved someone, I figured I was obliged to keep trying to make it work. Even through abusive and dysfunctional behaviour, I kept hoping, trusting and believing that somehow, love would be enough to make it better.

And then I had a profound realisation that changed everything. Loving someone is one thing. But that doesn't mean you have to stay with that person and keep trying to make things right. You do not have to continue to beat your head against a wall, attempting to resuscitate something that cannot (and should not) survive.

You're wasting your time. Because sadly, love does not conquer all.

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If You Knew This Was Your Last Day...

…what would you do?

Yeah, okay, I’m sure most of us would want to spend every last moment with our loved ones – or at least, have them with us while we hurry up and cram everything we can manage into one last day.

It’s all very romantic and lovely to imagine quietly sitting with our loved ones while we peacefully fade away. But what about the Other Stuff? Wouldn’t there be a list of Other Stuff that we wish we could do, too?

I don’t know about you, but after those first powerful thoughts of wanting to be with my family and closest friends, my next thought would be to get rid of everything I don’t want anyone to find.

My mother who is now in spirit always told me to get rid of her underwear as soon as she died. I thought that was weird when I was a kid. But now I understand!

If you've got some that could do with chucking, why not do it now? And while you're at it, what else do you not want people to find? Have you written things you don't want anyone to see? What about photographs, texts, or private journals?

You might want to designate someone to dispose of anything you aren't prepared to destroy just yet...

If it were my last day, I'd have to get a Burger King Whopper with bacon and cheese, and their crispy onion rings too please. And later I would order a fabulous thin-crust pizza loaded with all sorts of goodies and extra cheese. In fact, if you're super focused on healthful eating, why not enjoy a few more treats while you're still able?

I would get into my most comfortable “jams” (is there any other attire that’s appropriate for lounging around in the Afterlife?). And I'd pack up my clothes to give to people who can use them. Hmm, perhaps now is a good time to cull the wardrobe again... it's been a while. How about for you?

I would definitely be playing my favourite music throughout the background of all of this jammy-wearing, burger-eating, last-dayness, with Enigma being at the top of the list. And I’d just have to tickle the ivories for a while, one last time. A bit of Chopin would be in order (he’s my fave) and of course the Moonlight Sonata by the painfully serious Beethoven.

Have you enjoyed your favourite music lately? Or played a long-forgotten instrument? Today is just as good a day as any.

And I’d just have to crawl into my deliciously soft bed and watch ‘Chicken Run’ one last time, preferably with my kids and grandchildren, too (with five of each, I’d better get a bigger bed). A good time to eat that pizza!

Oooo, colouring I’d have to haul out the crayons and colouring books, which my family and I could enjoy with our pizza and Chicken Run.

(Does wine go with colouring books? Yessssssssssss!!!!! if you’re old enough, of course. My driving license says I am but the rest of me thinks I’m four.)

Perhaps I'd write a few final thoughts - or more likely, a few final stand-up jokes, wisecracking about my impending departure. Or I might do one last painting that was colourful and vibrant, summing up the joy I feel about my life (miserable bits included, because they’ve added to the joy in their own bizarre way).

What would you like to say before you go? Or what might you like to create? How about doing it now?

For me, my "last day" would be a day just like any other. I value each one as if it’s my last because the truth is, I never know which one that will be. Apart from chucking my knickers and burning my journals (those will be your jobs, Willow!), I’m pretty much ready to go. I mean, I’m at peace about the whole idea, but I hope it’s not for a very long time because I’m quite happy to be here; I’m having way too much fun.

Have you spoken to your family about burial or cremation? Our culture is so afraid of death we do not discuss these things. But that doesn't make them any less necessary.

I want to be torched so as not to take up perfectly good space on the planet when I wouldn’t really be using it. I heard some time ago that now you can have your ashes made into diamonds (people can even choose the colour they want) and that’s what I’d like to have done to mine.

As I said on my blog a long time ago, pick the word that describes how you want to be remembered and live it. Be it. Do it. I said my word was ‘sparkle’. So if I'm converted into at least a few diamonds, it’s very cool that I’ll be able to sparkle long after I’m gone…

In the meantime, I want to have fun and be silly. I want to find as many ways as possible to leave a positive impact on the world. I want to make delicious memories with people who will keep them safe for me after I’m gone. 

What else is there, really, but the memories we leave behind?

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to click on the posts below:

When Forgiving Seems Impossible

Actions Truly Do Speak Louder Than Words

The Golden Rule: Completely Misinterpreted

How to Love Waiting