Learning to Love Freely

By Emma Johnston-Wheeler

I'm in love with love.
There are many things that I have yet to discover about myself, but this is not one of them.
I am and always will be a  hopeless romantic.
I know this.

I'm only eighteen and I’ve already experienced multiple forms of love and heart break. I think it’s possible that I’m addicted to the feeling of love. I’ve lost myself in its presence and also found growth in its absence. On each occasion, the feeling has burned itself into my mind. Usually in the form of a name. That’s where this list comes in, a short summary of the boys that have played a part in my hopelessly romantic world to date.

  1. I spent my early primary years chasing boys. I chased one around the playground trying to kiss him. His name was Conner. I chased another down and kicked him between the legs, not knowing how to explain that I liked him. His name was Scott. I chased a third down trying to make him my boyfriend until he was eventually scared of me. His name was Spencer.
  2. In grade three, I had three different boys compete for my love. Freddy, Matthew, and Marcus. There was never a winner.
  3. In grade four, I "dated" one of those boys. He bought me a chocolate heart for Valentine's Day. Shortly after, I became bored and set my heart on a different boy. I remember writing in my diary at the time that I liked him so much because he intentionally had himself kicked off the jungle gym so he could talk to me. His name was Mackenzie.
  4. In grade seven, I danced with a boy for the first time. We were "together" for two years. I can still remember the butterflies I felt when I was around him. His name was Jason.
  5. In high school, I had a thousand different crushes. One boy that I changed my mind about in grade nine because I thought his hands were too small. Another one that moved away before I could work up the nerve to say anything. A third that I eventually found annoying.
  6. In the summer of grade eleven, I became friends with a boy who I’d been crushing on for a year.  He was the first person to tell me I was beautiful and actually have me believe that he meant it. His name was Danny. He's now one of my best friends.
  7. Shortly after that I dated the boy from elementary school again. Just over half a year. I was sure I loved him more than anything. He broke my heart.
  8. By the end of senior year, I wanted simply to be able to kiss a boy without risking the feeling of heart break, but I made the mistake of falling in love with him. I couldn't help myself. He was handsome, funny, wonderfully honest, and one of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever met. There was a point when I thought he was my soul mate. His name was Matt.
  9. Half way through University I met a boy with a beautiful, indescribable mind. Passionate, present, and carefree. He didn’t want me and that made me stop wanting myself for a while.
  10. Now there is no boy. I look back thinking that there might have been a point in each of these relationships that I thought they were my "soul mate.” I was sure for so long that there was only one person I was supposed to spend my life with.
    I wanted it to be true so badly.

I'm now retiring that belief (or at least trying to). I'll still pour my heart out every chance I get for the pure experience of it, but without the same commitment. I'm taking out the "have-to" so to speak.

I'd like to think now that instead of a soul mate for the rest of my life (a single "one"), that there is a "one" for each moment. Multiple "ones."  I was supposed to love and meet all of those people.

Just because a relationship ends doesn't mean that the time you spent with them isn't valid.

With this new perspective, I’ve created a sort of free love mantra. Meaning that I will use this message to practice a purer love. One that is unlimited but expects nothing in return.

Because real love isn't created with the idea of being loved back. Reciprocation may make the love grow, but the reason you loved that person in the first place was because of them. Because you saw light in them and couldn't help but be drawn to it. And so I tell myself, I will continue to love and be heart broken without ever expecting someone to promise a lifetime to me.
I'll love in the purest way possible. Freely.