The Cost of Love
They say love is free, but that’s not always the case. Love cost me, dearly. And it’s still costing me.
I should have seen the writing on the wall when I had to buy my own wedding ring. “It’s cultural,” I told myself, and others. When you’re in deep, it’s easy to make excuses.
In the beginning, the price of admission didn’t seem so high. A sacrifice here, an emotional jab there. The constant circling of his orbit didn’t even register with me for years. It’s just what you do for love. And it was what I did to hold together the loose threads of my dream.
With time, the cost of love increased. It went from one need ignored, to most. Needs seemed weak, though. And suddenly, I became the needy one. Want less, need less. My new motto served me. I grew more self-sufficient by the month.Love is selfless. And I became so, reluctantly.
It wasn’t obvious at first, because I was a feminist. Against all logic, I slowly subverted my independence into submissiveness. But love was more seductive than ideology. Love was what made the world go round. It was what made life worth living.
Love is blind. And so it was for 12 years.
Love cost me 12 years of trying to slowly morph myself into something that couldn’t exist. Time eventually became my wake-up call. I woke up in the future to find myself almost entirely erased. Where had I gone? I had to stop the hands of time before I could try and rewind the obliteration. But those 12 years can’t come back. They stay locked in a vault that no one can open.
After everything precious was sucked out of the marriage, I left because staying was no longer a possibility. Love was nowhere to be found. And I was an island called Lonely.
Living without love had become the impossible. My heart shriveled, my lungs collapsed, my skin wrinkled. The darkness of a future without someone to adore and someone to adore me seemed as bleak as a never-ending Canadian winter. I preferred death. But death wasn’t an option with two dependents.
Letting go of broken love caused pain to seep into new crevices. Hurt began to layer upon hurt, forming a thick plaque that threatened to cut off my circulation. The ache was so bad that my body began to fold. But how does one measure such things…a scale for broken hearts? Would despair trump deceit, or vice versa?
But leave I did, suddenly and yet tentatively. Stopping every step of the way and turning around to watch my life crumble behind me. My feelings guided me on the dark path ahead. Suffering was a given, but their circumstance was optional. Either way, love was holding me ransom.
Dark nights followed dark days until the glimmer of light began to seep into my mornings. Eventually, my days began to fill with the allure of new possibility. Soon, I remembered what April felt like.
When I found love again, I didn’t anticipate the backlash. My happiness became an affront. Others thought it unfair, and they demanded I pay more for this reward. And so I am. Paying more, to fill their vengeful coffers.
Legal costs are easy to calculate. A luxury car. A year of income. A down payment on a home. Steep, senseless, unnecessary. But reason and fury can rarely coexist. And so this became the tangible price I had to pay for believing in love. Both ways.
Still, it was the other costs that were heavier, grittier, sharper. The lost nerves and sleep. The disappearance of my faith in decency. The destroyed belief in justice. And mostly, the injury inflicted upon tender hearts that should be protected. These were the costs that I never imagined, costs that grew out of displaced vanity and vindictiveness.
Yet, even with all the costs levied on me, I have no regrets. Life without love—or at least, the possibility of love—is as aimless as debris blowing in the wind. Love, real love, is what stabilizes all that is erratic around me. It is only through the beauty of love that the ugly has become tolerable and the misery, bearable.