Portfolio of Hope

grayscale photography of two woman kissing

Having grown up in the house of an addict, somewhere along the way I swapped the idea of ‘love’ with a search for ‘adrenaline’-



never enough.

Having spent my childhood internalising the messages that I was given, the models of what it means to love and to be loved that I was shown, I now have to spend my adulthood trying to navigate what love actually is. Something that seemingly comes so effortlessly to other people is a minefield for me of constant questioning;

‘Is this love?’

‘Is this desire?’

‘Is there a difference?’

‘Am I even worthy of love?’

‘Will I find love?’

‘Do I want to find love?’

So many questions that I cannot find the answers to because, I just don’t know…

I don’t know if I’ve ever been in love, I don’t know if I’ve ever been loved. How could I possibly know any of this when I don’t know what love even is…

When she told me that she ‘liked my shoes’, that she’d ‘let me cook her dinner any day’, was that love?

When I told him ‘no’ but, he did it anyway, said I was ‘too gorgeous to resist’, was that love?

When she told me that she ‘loved’ me, but her actions said that she hated me, when she kept doing things that were hurting me, was that love?

How can I possibly hope to determine what is and isn’t love when I have nothing to go by, no comparisons to make, just a hell of a lot of repressed memories of what I was told was love but, in hindsight, as an adult, I have to question;

‘How could it have been?’

Unless love is supposed to leave you with complex trauma, how could that possibly have been love? And so, now as an adult, at 22, I’m left to navigate all of this on my own…

*And now, just to be clear, I don’t write the above for sympathy, I don’t want anyone’s pity or for anyone to feel sorry for me, I just write it for a sense of understanding, I suppose. For me to understand why I am the way I am myself, and for you to understand why I am the way I am too…

Either ‘all’ or ‘nothing’, I feel things intensely or not at all. When it’s the latter, I come across too strong probably (definitely), as the prospect of finally getting some form of grip on what love actually is overpowers my brain and, I lose the ability to rein it in. The things that I should probably keep to myself, at least initially, I verbalise and, that scares people away. Or, at the other end of the ‘spectrum’ of what I now realise is very much a disorganised attachment style, characterised by a ‘push/pull’ dynamic, when I feel like someone is getting ‘too close’ to me and it’s not ‘in my control’ (whatever that even means), when I feel too ‘vulnerable’, I have the urge to push them away, to go from ‘all’, to ‘nothing’ in what can be a matter of minutes, whole relationships/friendships brought to an end because the ‘responsibility’ of maintaining them feels suffocating to me and, I just feel like I need to escape while I can (again, whatever that even means)…

The point is that I don’t know what love is, really. I hope that one day, I will but, at this moment, no, I don’t know what love is. And, that’s okay. Sometimes, ‘learning on the job’ is the best way to do it… And so, that’s what I’m doing. With a warm heart and an open mind and the awareness that; sometimes you have to let yourself be vulnerable and feel a bit ‘out of control’ and that, doing so doesn’t make you weak or stupid or anything else you’ve been made to feel it makes you, it makes you human, I’m learning to love people…

I’m learning to accept that, as I am capable of loving other people, so too are other people capable of loving me. I am not an awful person. I am not ‘unlovable’, I might have been conditioned to think that I am but, I’m not.

So, here’s to loving,

here’s to living,

here’s to…



~ peace ~

what does love really mean?
Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

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