Hard Truths, Day 2: A List on Love, with Love


This post is part of my series 41 Years in 30 Days. You can find the entire series here as I write them.

In eight days now, I creep further into my 40s and hit 42. While not a birthday they make specialty cards for, it’s still pretty awesome. Also, if there were special cards for turning 42, I’d imagine the greetings would go something like this:

Happy birthday. I got you vodka, a housekeeper, and a picture of what your tits looked like when you were 16.

For your 42nd birthday, I found your dream man. But then I woke up.

Clive Owen called. He’s not coming.

What do Coors Light and your 42nd birthday have in common? Celebrating either is completely tasteless.

So there’s that.

hard truths day 2 love

Today’s hard truth is about love. In 42 years, I’ve learned a lot about it – and it’s best dealt with in a list. Lists are raw. Bulleted. Numbered. So let’s go.

  • Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is the hard part.
  • There’s a difference between being in love and loving someone. Love is what happens when the shiny wears off and you’re left with an unpretty, flawed human staring back at you – and you still say YES.
  • Love will always hurt when you do it right. But it hurts to make things better, not worse or the same.
  • Love might not last, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real and it wasn’t wonderful while it lasted.
  • Always say the one thing you’re terrified to say, because The Universe might come along and snatch love from your tender hands. And should that moment happen, it sucks immortal amounts of ass to look back and regret not saying that one loving thing you didn’t think you had the courage to say. But you did. And you do.
  • It’s not about how long you can talk with one another. It’s about whether you crave one another when silence creeps in.
  • Family love is weird. Just plain old fuckin’ weird.
  • I’ve offered my heart up willingly to many men who weren’t deserving. While I’ve learned how to better protect my heart over time, I’d never trade vulnerability for the inability and lack of opportunity to feel heartbreak.
  • The glorious thing about heartbreak is that you get to pick up the pieces that matter and leave the rest behind.
  • There is something lovely about every shitty relationship I’ve been in.
  • Some people aren’t built to love you (or anyone, much less themselves) – and that’s their shit, not yours.
  • My exes are never assholes. They are who they are and I chose to date them and I’m not someone who chose to date an asshole.
  • My willingness to see the best in men, friends, family doesn’t change who they are at the core. Some people stopped emotionally growing long before I ever met them. I can wish they’d change in one hand and shit in the other. Guess which one is going to fill up first?
  • I don’t have to apologize for what I love or whom I love unless the whom hurts other whoms I love. Should that happen, I need a serious fucking reality check.
  • Never be with someone you need. Be with someone you want…and who wants you.
  • There is no greater love than the love I hold for myself. It’s a love deserving of my attention and it’s hard fucking work to learn to love yourself. Each day, I do hope to become better at this.
  • If you’re ever with someone who finds more flaws in you than things to celebrate, they deserve zero of your fucks.
  • Don’t believe words. Believe actions, feelings, and your gut. Your gut is one honest motherfucker.
  • I need to stop kicking my own ass for relationships that don’t work out because they’re not supposed to work out and I’m human and shit happens and ooooohhhhhhh look – a pygmy marmoset!
  • When I’m down about love, I think about every man I’ve loved and what would’ve happened if it had worked out. And then I Facebook stalk my wasband and realize he looks like the bloated body of a Sammy Hagar impersonator washed up on the beach. Suddenly, I feel fabulous.
  • You can love your work, but if you love it at the expense of the people whom you love and love you, is it really work worth doing?
  • If your list of dealbreakers is longer than your wish of hope-fors, you’re going to be alone (and lonely) for a very long time.
  • Love is an asshole. It never asks permission to show up and blindsides you. Seriously – it’s a dick.
  • My whole heart cannot belong to someone else. Every time I’ve done that, a piece of me dies.
  • Disney can suck a bag of left-bending dicks. Princesses aren’t real and I don’t need to be rescued.
  • Love challenges you. It doesn’t accept you unconditionally.
  • If you give up on your you, how can you expect someone to fall in love with your you?
  • Your friends should love you, not hurt you, keep you down, talk shit about you behind your back (or to your front). If they don’t, get new friends.
  • Dogs are always happy to see you. Sometimes the people who love you will be pissed at you…and vice versa.
  • When you keep someone who hurts your heart in your heart, there’s no room in your heart for someone who makes you feel wonderful and values you for the fan-fucking-tastic human being that you are.
  • Every time you talk shit about your partner, imagine them talking shit about you and whether you’d want that. Then ask yourself why you’re even with this person.
  • Venting is one thing. Disdain and contempt are another realm entirely and kill any chance for love.
  • While you think it to be true, you will not die should you lose someone you love. While a piece of you might die with them, you are a resilient motherfucker and capable of more than you know. Sadly (and thankfully) I know this.
  • Love isn’t a definition in a dictionary. It’s yours. Define it. Reinvent it. Embrace it. Fuck it silly and pull its hair a bit. Hold it, get in its face, and support it. But never (ever) put it down.
  • Search parameters on Match.com are a good starting point. Being a dick about checkboxes…well, it just makes you a dick.
  • When you degrade someone you love, you’re degrading yourself. Why would you be with someone you can talk that way about?
  • Sometimes love is saying, “I can’t do this. Be well. Goodbye.” And walking the fuck away. With tears in your eyes and crying for days. Because your tears will dry and it’s perfectly possible to love someone you’re not in love with.
  • Falling in love and loving isn’t where it stops. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be lovable. And that just sucks because you’re awesome.
  • If you don’t love you, it’s damn near impossible fro anyone else to love you.
  • That guy who hit you, the girl who cheated on you, the dumbass who stood you up, the dude who died, the gal who broke your heart — remember that past performance isn’t indicative of future results.
  • Love yourself. Love your family. Love your friends. THEN love your partner. In that order. You just might find that your partner becomes family. And then everything is fucking magic.
  • Show up. Don’t quit. Fighting isn’t worth it, but fighting for the one you love…is.
  • There is a difference between fighting WITH and fighting FOR.
  • Never say “fuck you” to anyone you love.
  • And when the mood strikes you and you think you could do this – this could be the person who could make you happy and challenge you to become the next better version of yourself. You want to eat jalapeno poppers with them in bed at 9:34am on a Sunday and cry hysterically when they’ve been stung by a bee and are in anaphylactic shock in an emergency room on the brink of death. You want to see them wrinkly. You want to be wrinkly. You see their heart before you see their ass/six-pack/bank account/Porsche.  When you think for a moment you could do this for the rest of your life…say hello. You might be surprised and find it says hello right back.
  • Whenever I think I’ve learned all there is to know about love, something always comes along to remind me that I have a lot more learning to do.
  • Love is hard work. Hard as hell. If it were easy, it would be called “beer,” not “love.”
11 replies
  1. LoganMeller
    LoganMeller says:

    Beautifully written, as always!  I think my favorite is:Love isn’t a definition in a dictionary. It’s yours. Define it.
    Reinvent it. Embrace it. Fuck it silly and pull its hair a bit. Hold it,
    get in its face, and support it. But never (ever) put it down.
    I have recently begun a relationship after getting divorced (last year).  Everything you wrote speaks to my heart and makes a crazy lot of sense to me.  <3

  2. johnheaney
    johnheaney says:

    how do you know if love will last? you don’t. but if you wake up every day and think “how can I make her happy today” then those days have a habit of lasting.

    wonderful post, as always, Erika.

  3. MarkHarrill
    MarkHarrill says:

    As I traveled through the bullets, I identified more with each one as they went on. Life is funny sometimes. I really could relate to:

    “When you keep someone who hurts your heart in your heart, there’s no
    room in your heart for someone who makes you feel wonderful and values
    you for the fan-fucking-tastic human being that you are.”
    This resonated with me so much after being separated, in a new relationship, ending the relationship, and reconciling back where I started. I am different now, I am me, and honesty and love prevails.
    Keep on keeping on Erika.

  4. slocreative
    slocreative says:

    I loved most of it… but honestly??  my exes are assholes…  I know what that says about me…  but I’ll own up to that part

  5. megmckey
    megmckey says:

    Thank you for this list, Erika. It is absolutely spot on and I personally agree with and relate to each bullet point. I happened to have filed for divorce this week after 17 wonderful years of marriage, punctuated by the heartbreaking anguish of my husband’s four affairs and multiple one-nighters. This last one was a doozy…with my friend and neighbor. So, this post couldn’t have come at a better time – confirming that I don’t regret a day of our marriage because I was true to myself, to him and to what love means to me throughout our time together. But it’s time for me to let go of someone who has more shitty baggage to deal with than I care to continue paying for. It’s self-love time.

  6. AJasonP
    AJasonP says:

    This list needs to be given out to everyone who gets separated or divorced.  I have seen many who could have used this.

  7. Dellem
    Dellem says:

    I strongly believed I should never say “fuck you” to anyone I love until I saw Blackhawk Down. In a fairly quiet rescue scene, one ranger uses the phrase as shorthand to explain to two others that their request and their assessment of their situation is dangerously stupid and wrong. Nothing personal, hateful, harmful, or insulting in the shouted remark, only an emphasis to get it right. This ties in with your preceding point about fighting with or for someone. I hate to use the phrase at all, but I do now.


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