I think about the word "mahal" in Tagalog - how it translate to love. It's a loan word we received from Malay, Indian and Arab traders. It denotes something dear, it alludes to a palace or stopping place. I wonder about the words we use for love and whether they can hold what it can manifest in our lives.
Mahal: I want my love to be precious to me, dear and priceless. I want my love to be so grand and large it is a palace full of treasures - I want my love loud, extravagant and built to last lifetimes. When I am weary, I want love to be the place I stop in contemplation, in peace, in reprieve. What is love, if not the place to come home? I want love to be the pause I take, a deep breath in gratitude and reflection.
If love is transformative, powerful, spiritual and expansive - why haven't I experienced that in my romantic connections? Why have I accepted less? Why have I had to lose myself in the pursuit of love?
& I am reminded love is an empty belly full of childhood longings. That the taste of second chances at a broken doorway will feel like home. How this pain how you, are a familiar plate at a dinner table where I sit alone.
A dear friend told me that our gaps in healing often appear in our romantic relationships because they mirror the wounds we experienced from childhood - the wounds our parents gave us. I know I've felt that if I can heal this person, then maybe I could fix something my parents broke in me. I've spent years healing that wound, learning to soothe the parts of me that whisper: "they would love me if I did this...they would love me if I changed...they would love me if I was a different person." I've rediscovered myself at the end of heartbreak and each time, instead of my heart closing and hardening in protection, it remained open to tenderness - so I can redefine love again. And there were years my heart hadn't known peace, where I was too afraid to let others hold me. But I am willing to keep defining and redefining love for as long as I live.
I know the beauty and strength of love from my friends and my chosen family. I know the joy of being in a room full of people who love you unconditionally, who have loved you to the edge of the known world that you can journey into the universe with a new light; a tether that guides you back home. I know love that is safe and warm. I know love that is inspiring, creative and powerful. I know love that overflows and bursts into song, into dance, into art.
I have called a feeling love when there was no love present. I have named cruelty and unwavering sacrifice love. I have called a feeling love when I've slept alone, pillows stained with tears. But when I think about romantic love, I imagine a warm home where I wake and hear laughter. A home where I wake and music plays from the kitchen and my lover sings sweetly. So I have been redefining love for myself. I've seen the miracles love has gifted to my life. And I believe, if there is a romantic love out there for me, they will hold me with tenderness. I believe my lover will make a home with me.
I don’t want love if it is a bursting dam promising more than it can hold. Let it be a stream, gentle and reliable, softening the tired mountain.