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Love--the earth bears steps of spring And the afternoon is a dream. - "Love" by Julia de Burgos

I just watched someone close to me break up with their long time love. Watching that person make their agonizing decision and seeing the pain that followed is torture, not only to them, but to everyone around and reminded me of my follies with love. Just like a flower blooming in spring, new love is a glorious, beautiful thing. Everything seems possible in that time of sunny, dreamy afternoons and moonlit nights.

Then the bubble breaks and real life intrudes. All the real problems that you thought love could solve become more complicated because of it. My first experience with love and heartbreak was with my parents. Watching them become lovers and then enemies was painful to see. To see two people, who you once thought loved each other, turn on each other is sad and heartbreaking. My parents divorced when I was a young adult and being older didn’t make it less painful. My second experience with love was with my ex. We met when I was 19 and he was 22. I remember thinking I had met the man who would save me from it all and that love was the answer to all of my problems. I thought we were different, our love was different and we would be the exception rather than the rule. Twenty two years later and a very painful divorce, showed me once again how love can complicate problems already present. So what is the answer ? I found out the hard way that if you're not healthy in mind, spirit, and body, no amount of love can heal you. So the first step for me was to learn to love myself, independent of anyone. That meant therapy and groups. It meant understanding what went wrong and what my part was. It meant making peace with my parents and my ex, and finally with myself. I got a second chance at love in my 40's. It began the same heady way. I heard the violins and the stars were in both our eyes, but instead of thinking love could solve it all, I was ready. Love was the ultimate goal, but first and foremost was health. With that in mind we foraged forward through the good and the bad, and eight years later, we are still together, working separately, yet together.

I guess in the end, love wins only if that love is with yourself first.

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