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“Love is pain.” I saw this tiny phrase today, spray-painted on a wall in black, surrounded by a cloud of red that dripped under it; as if blood ran straight down the tips of letters. It was beautiful; and it was macabre at the same time. But that’s what love is now, isn’t it? A transcending but vicious emotion, one that can send you to heaven or damn you to the seventh pit of hell, with the same ease. A crazy notion, yet the most logical one there is.

Simply because, if it’s not love, it doesn’t hurt.

If it’s not love you are not inclined to give it your very existence, and you have no demands, no expectations, no hopes and no dreams for the other side either. Betrayal, disappointment, sadness, grief, the sting of indifference, loss, even hate, don’t even cross your mind, they aren’t even felt, for someone you don’t care deeply about.

Nothing can cause you pain quite like love.

Bittersweet, even in the beginning. Even as you feel those first butterflies, even as you realize that you’re beginning to care more than usual, as your heart begins to beat faster with one word, one glance, one kiss. Anxiety, fear, uncertainty.

What if? What if it’s not mutual? What if I fall and they don’t? What if I’m not enough? What if I’m too much? What if I love and am not loved in return? And if it ends? What then? 

When it comes to love, though, you don’t get much of a choice, now, do you? And if you’re going to fall in love, you will – want it or not, ready or not. And if it ends, it will be painful. Even if you’re the one ending it.

You’ve been warned. Everywhere around you, in literature, art, music, it is whispered that love, returned or unrequitted, can hurt you. Cliché? Sure, guilty as charged. Can you deny the truth in it, though?

Sometimes it hurts like a slap in the face. A sharp pain, a burning sensation, and a sting that lingers for a while. It could hurt like a fist in the stomach or a swift kick in the balls; leaving you nauseated, dizzy and reeling, unable to catch your breath or stand on your feet, with a pounding ache that folds your body in half. Or like a broken bone maybe; acute, searing pain, that takes the breath out of you, makes you scream in agony. Pain that needs help from another to heal, and even while healing can throb and make you suffer. And even after years, on certain days, you can still feel remnants of the trauma. What kind of sick masochistic idiot would actually put themselves through that willingly?

It’s the only pain that really can’t be numbed. Work until you can no longer think straight, go out with your friends all you want, drink till you pass out, have all the meaningless sex you can. It’s a placebo; and the effects wear out. At night when you lay your head on your pillow, in your cold bed, left all alone with your thoughts, then what? Are you still numb? Have you really forgotten?

Why such pain though? Why even open up to the potential? Why look for it so adamantly?

Because there’s a sweet agony in love, a drunken euphoria that is so addictive you ignore fears, doubts and warnings.

Because, even knowing the threat, even knowing the danger, it’s all worth it. Nothing is meant to last forever. Things change – they evolve, they are transformed, they are fluid and as volatile as the time that passes. Without love we are incomplete, though. At some point, your bed will be too big and too cold for just you and you’ll get tired of sleeping alone. You’ll want to feel that warmth, you’ll need to feel important to someone, that you too have a “someone” for you, your very own, who feels the same.

There are no words sufficient to describe the utter beauty, the wholeness you feel inside, together with the sheer strength and courage the happiness of being in love brings with it; touching the divine, even just with the tip of your finger, even just for a little bit. Can you honestly say that you’re willing to go without it forever?

Because there is not one person on this earth that does not need love. There are those who say they’ve sworn off love, never felt it, that they’re even incapable of feeling it. Bullshit. They have. At some point they were just like you – someone that loved too much and got hurt. They found that switch and flipped it, convinced themselves that they’re better off without it all and began living their lives as if they were above the whole concept.

It takes a hell of a lot of work to build walls around your heart and knowing yourself extremely well to be able to control your emotions and walk away when you realize that you’re close to feeling something more than mere interest. It takes balls of steel and the application of only cold hard logic to be able to get out in time. And the only way to have all that is to know all about the pain beforehand, to have a reference point. Cynics weren’t born cynics. No one was born with an innate ability to avoid love and the pain that inevitably comes with it.

Put it all on a scale, weight it and see which side tips more. The fear of the pain or the ultimate beauty of the feeling?

Stay safe and out of danger if you’re afraid of the pain. Feel, just on the surface, don’t let it get deep. Hurt others so you don’t get hurt.
Don’t fall in love, and don’t worry.
After all, if it’s not love, it doesn’t hurt.

Author: Nikoletta Vasilopoulou

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