Love notes with Saffiya

It’s that month again.

The stores are red and hearty. That giddy celebration of love: in all its many shapes; forms and types.

Ahhh!! Love with all those beautiful butterflies, that inexplicable tingly warm feeling in your tummy, those pictures in your head of your favourite romcom, footprints in the sand, walking hand in hand on an idyllic beach. We all want that experience at least once in our life. That warm fuzzy feeling which warms your heart and gives you a reason to smile like a crazy at the screen of your mobile phone. Every one of us has at one point or another had that feeling of euphoria.

Albeit sweet the reality is that this could be turned on its head very quickly – there is a flip side.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not jaded, anti-love nor do I want to dampen the moment here.

There is always a story behind my article.

In the last six months, I have heard from different people who were heading to splitsville, in splitsvilles or just past it. So many have sworn love off, some have become bitter, others are in that state of blame and regret. Love can become can be messy, this road is paved with many a broken heart. Very seldom does real life have a Nicholas Spark’s novel ending.

As one matures on this journey we call life, we realise that things don’t always work out the way we want them to. All those little scenarios which we imagine in our head, may not necessary become a reality. There are different kinds of love and the truth is that things can become blurry with these different loves.

I think the worst is unreciprocated love or forbidden love, or the ones we just cannot explain which most people call “complicated” and even tragic tales of love. Even those who have sacrificed everything at the altar of love and still remain alone. We see the naivety of young love. 

“I will follow you to the ends of the earth,”

Or

“I don’t mind if we live in a small apartment, I will be happy as long as we are together”.

Those sweet promises we make to each other, because we haven’t really done the due diligence on life.

All it takes for a rude awakening is when life catches up with you; a little argument to sober a person up when it turns into a “mother” of arguments, or its builds up over a period; and then erupts like a volcano.

So what advice do we give younger generations without sounding like sarcastic, cynical grown-whiners.

How do we guide; when all the roses have wilted and the chocolates have been eaten.

There is enduring love, the ideal we all inspire for, like our parents’ and grandparents’ generation however this kind isn’t something which magically happens. .

Love is complex yet simple, complicated yet unassuming, cement that foundation when it comes to love.

I was once told, ask a person who is blissfully in love how to preserve love, but more importantly listen to someone who has been through challenging relationships, they will give you a few life lessons, insider information which can be very handy and useful. It’s these people who have loved and lost, the ones who live with regret, or the ones who did not listen to their gut and let pride overtake common sense.

It’s these candid, “do not hold back” accounts which one needs to heard.

Maybe they will tell you, the only power you have in your relationships is actually accepting that nothing is guaranteed, that in your admittance of errors, the best resolve is not to be defensive. That every reaction of yours to an action of another lies in your own internal energy and emotion. Most times the universe works in mysterious ways, instead of working against it, go with the flow and let it work for you.

What do us as humans want and crave in order to love and be loved?

It’s about honouring each other’s individuality; yet being able to grow together. It’s about making the active choice to tackle life as a team, knowing you have each other’s back even in the hardest of times. We don’t merely want to be seen, but present. We want to be heard and not merely listened to. Everyone wants to feel special and desired; this is not a gender specific need or want. That feeling of being understood for whatever they might be going through is priceless.

Everything cannot be easy, exciting and exhilarating all the time?

This is true with other love relationships as well; family members or close friends.

Love is sometimes putting your needs on the back burner for a little whilst you focus on the other person. Many times it’s about compromise and simply reserving the right to say nothing and accept. Other times it’s about standing tall and saying exactly how you feel but in the best way possible. We all go through those experiences in life, when there is a slight shift, we are able to quickly rectify and adjust them. It’s the subduction shifts which are the ones we need to watch out for; those extremely painful ones. Whether by choice or victims of circumstance, love can change; and fortunate are those who can still say unequivocally that it’s been unchanged since day one.

For me personally, love is a spectrum of relationships, the love I have for those who share my life … family, friends, those closest to me, I have learnt through heartache to look at love, life and everything in-between as a lesson; a test and a blessing in life.

What is life is trying to teach me? 

Deep down inside I am still a hopeless romantic; but a cautious level-headed someone, I take care of my heart because someone has too – Right?

Ultimately we get to understand what the true essence of love really means. I still wear my heart on my sleeve, but I have definitely learnt to trust my gut more than ever before. I rely on the rhythm of my heart. I have learned that balance in life usually the best stabiliser, we cannot always have petals and confetti, we sometimes need to get soaked in the rain and be without an umbrella; to appreciate the people who matter.


About Saffiya Ismail

Born in Pietermaritzburg, she now resides in Johannesburg and says her most important role in life is being a mother. Saffiya is a freelance writer. A contributing author in “Riding the Samoosa Express” (Anthology launched 21st March 2015). With a second chapter submitted for the next book, Saffiya says her passion is writing.

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