It's funny how I cannot seem to remember just what year I married Mike. I do however remember the day he destroyed what was left of our marriage. Today would have been our anniversary, maybe ten or eleven years, I can't recall, but that really doesn't matter anymore. What I have come to learn during the time it took to get over his betrayal and abuse, is that "romantic love" is really one of the youngest levels of love.
Before you think I am jaded, let me explain. We are built to pro-create. In order to do that we need to feel that electrical charge with someone to make sex so desirable that we can't help ourselves. The thought of creating a new life with this person you love so much can be intoxicating. We are willing to do anything, be anything for the love of this person. Flash forward many years in that same relationship with those children, and we see the "romantic" love has faded; the couple has become disillusioned, and sadly many do not even stay together with the family their "romantic love" created.
Mature love on the other hand; love of one's self, love of others on a soul level; is bigger than an electrical charge, bigger than sexual energy. It's about loving on a level hard to put into words. It's caring about their wellbeing while maintaining healthy boundaries. Love should not cause you to change who you are. I am not talking about learning to like sports if you haven't in the past, I am talking about going against your ethics, ones principles and morals. Mature love won't ask you to compromise who you are.
For example, my ex treated people in ways I found abhorrent. I would make excuses for his behavior to try to smooth things over with my friends. What I should have done was value my ethics of kindness and empathy, and not made excuses for him. What I should have done was not be with him. I should have not put myself or my friends on the field with him.
And that is the essence of mature love. Loving yourself and others on a higher level than "romantic" love which we all know wears off over time. I'm not saying romantic love is not great and fun, but it's like eating a bar of chocolate, a moment on the lips, forever on the hips.
So as I push past the memories of my anniversary, I find peace and joy in mature love. A love I would not have found without having gone through that relationship with him. Sometimes you need to be torn down to your foundation in order to build back better; and that relationship did tear me down.
In hindsight, although it was my idea to get married on Halloween, it really defined the reality of our marriage. He hid behind his mask so I would not see the true demon that lived in him, and I hid behind my mask of knowing something was off in the relationship, but not trusting that feeling because I was head over heals in "romantic" love with him. Two wounded children playing at love.
So on this day of what would have been our anniversary, I wish him peace and love, but I now know I am worth more than just "romantic love." I am worth mature love, something I could have never have achieved with him.