Many musicians have written songs comparing love to drugs. Taylor Swift (you knew that was coming) talks about getting clean in her song by that name, Kesha has a song titled “Your Love is My Drug” (it doesn’t get much more straight forward than that), and tons of other songs have compared being in love to being sick, hungover, or high. If you’ve ever been in love (and if you’ve ever lost love), I’d bet you’d agree with them. Or maybe it’s just me. I doubt it though, because these songs are so popular, I bet one of them is stuck in your head right now.
Falling in love is pure magic. It’s a daring adventure. Everything is beautiful, everything is exciting. You want to see them all the time. You text them all day long, you creepily stalk their Facebook just to look at their pictures (you do, don’t lie), you daydream about them while you’re at work. Being with them is like jumping off a cliff into a pool of cold water – dangerous, exhilarating, refreshing. Senses are heightened when you’re with them, your heart beats faster, and you find yourself addicted to the feeling of the nervous butterflies in your stomach.
But butterflies don’t last forever. I don’t say that to be depressing or cynical (so hush your protests right now). It’s just realistic. Butterflies die, they turn to dust (as T-Swift says), and they cover everything that used to be bright and beautiful. The high of being in love with that person wears off, and you’re left with the reality that is that person. No more butterflies. No more quick-beating hearts. No more Facebook-stalking and daydreaming. Just that person: real, raw, and right in front of you (which is also beautiful, but that’s another topic for another day). That’s where we get caught, though. We miss the high, we think maybe this drug just isn’t working for us anymore, and we start to wonder about something newer, something stronger. Everything falls apart in our grasp and it’s over before we can take another breath.
We drown, lost in ourselves and in our withdrawals. We want the butterflies back, and we start to hurt without the danger of them. Suddenly it seems we’re willing to do anything to have the high again. We beg, we fight, we plead with God. We scream, and we’re still lost at sea.
But the thing about the sea is that it’s soothing. The waves crash down on us, we lie on our backs and let the tide take us out, away from the shore and away from the place we lost ourselves.
And that’s when we find ourselves again. The saltwater stings, but it heals our wounds and withdrawals. We can breathe again in the fresh salty air and we start to come back to life.
We come back to our senses. Our hearts still beat, but they beat to their own rhythm. The high is gone completely, and we’re free of the desperation for the butterflies that once filled our bodies. Who needs butterflies when you have the tide? That doesn’t mean we don’t miss it. We’re sad. Sad for what we lost. Sad that we realized our mistakes (and they’ve realized theirs) too late. But we’re not sad enough to want to go back to the place where we lost ourselves. At least, I’m not. I may miss the high, but I missed myself more. I don’t want to risk losing myself again. Because there’s a whole new adventure in learning to be addicted to yourself. Not in a self-centered way, but in a learning-to-know-and-love-everything-about-yourself way. We’re worth knowing ourselves without anything that tries to alter us. We’re worth knowing. Period. So we fight to love ourselves and we fight to keep ourselves.
And that’s when we’re finally clean.