We have to separate the feeling from the person who inspires them. We are so literal, we use the words “my love” to describe a sentiment as well as a person. But our feelings are entirely our own, to process, to draw from for poetry, to express in our ways, to take responsibility for & to enjoy. People can’t be owned, shouldn’t be exploited. Disappointment & frustration can poison us, yes. But they’re different emotions from the love we’ve felt. I’m saying hold that love precious.

It’s possible to love someone who doesn’t behave well. That’s on them. Why should it change our enjoyment of what springs within us? Protect yourself from harm; humans are weak but to your feelings, you stay true.

When I was younger, I loved someone openly, willingly, joyfully. I wrote my heart into words in a love letter. He turned it into a joke, passing it around to our friends. He made it a trophy & tacked it up on his wall for years. And maybe because I refused to be shamed by it (it didn’t even occur to me), he shared it with his later fiance. I asked him for it back. It’s been years, I said, it’s not valid anymore & you’re going to get married, it doesn’t feel right for that letter to exist, let me have it back & destroy it. He refused, saying it was the best thing anyone had ever given him. It was as if he took the pride I had invested in it, shot it & mounted it up on a wall. He can have it. All he will ever have is a carcass. It cut me so deep, I never wrote for a loved one again.

It’s devastating realising that one of humanity’s instincts is to maim & kill what’s pure. We’re hunters, not just gardeners. Now I will no longer cage the best parts of me just because it brings out the predators. The person who inspires my love is a muse. Staying just that is their choice. Being an artist, a poet, a flowing fount of glory & joy – that’s mine. Even if they did seed this emotion, the fertile lands of my being are mine to nurture & enjoy.

Any gardener knows the garden only dies when you stop watering it. Mine won’t.

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