I know that there are uses for categories and labels. They are very useful for categorizing people, for putting a layer of distance between yourself and someone that you need to leave behind for whatever reason. Even when you don’t need the distance and it’s just a function of trying to make life easier. I’m an INTP. You’re an ESFJ. This means that we should some how be able to predict each other. I’m a Cancer, you’re an Aries. I already know this is going to end in disaster.
Except, of course, you never fall in love with someone’s resume. And all of those traits that land you in the DSM really just mean that you’re relentlessly flawed and therefore relentlessly human. I don’t know anyone who isn’t a little screwy in some way or another.
So what are you going to do? Love is already as improbable as an aardvark. It’s classic risk-taking behavior that ought to be treated by medication. It’s a disease in and of itself. It’s also the only thing worth throwing yourself at in this mess we call life.
And we’ve been lied to about what it is and what it looks like. It isn’t always Prince Charming. Sometimes it is your best friend that you never saw that way before. Sometimes it is an idea or a cause. Sometimes it’s the whole mess of humanity.
Romantic comedies lie, television shows lie, trashy romance novels lie. It’s not clean, it isn’t clear cut, it isn’t something you do once and then you get to coast for the rest of your life in a champagne bubble of bliss. There’s no classic story arc here. You don’t meet, misunderstand once, meet again, and live happily ever after. If you get that arc at all, it’s one that’s repeated once a day. Maybe once a week. Once a month if you’re lucky and once a year if you’re exceptional.
Every day you get up and you get dirty and you get cut and sometimes those cuts get infected. Some days you hang on by your teeth and some days by your broken fingernails. You fight and you f*ck and you fall down, and then you get up the next morning and you do it all over again. You go further, grow more compassion, do things a rational person would never do, hurt each other, rebuild stronger than before…
And as long as you’re doing it together, as long as your strongest impulse is to defend the space for your partner to grow, as long as your partner is as close to being home as you can get, as long as you’re in it together… I say go for it. Get dirty. Do it all wrong, then try again tomorrow. Duke it out (metaphorically). There’s space in-between the unrealistically optimistic love songs and the kick him to the curb love songs. Space for it to be impossible and be forever and ever amen too. Room for patience. Room to let the other guy be imperfect and let you down. Good reasons to set your ego aside, to stop thinking about yourself altogether for a time, and do what he needs done even if you don’t like it. Because God knows you’re going to need the same treatment at some point.
Love that lasts isn’t sunshine and roses. It lasts because even when you hate your partner the most, you still want to wake up next to them tomorrow morning. It lasts because the one person who can cut you the deepest is the only person who can help you heal.
Obviously, I’m not talking about the kind of love that involves real fists and knives.
All I’m saying is that life and love are messy. Embracing it makes at least as much sense as fighting it. I’d rather be messy and imperfect with the person that fits. It’s better than following all the rules with someone who doesn’t fit, as if you can tie your life up in a pretty bow like they do on TV. I don’t care that it isn’t anyone’s idea of perfect; I know who I want to be eating breakfast with in 20 years. Which means I’m going to show up again tomorrow. And the day after that. For as long as I can, to hell with supposed to and should.
So there you go. I’m sure there’s a DSM entry for that too.