By CECILIA TUCKER
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 2001
First of two parts
I love you. I think I love you. I want to love you. I used to love you. I am over you.
I find myself saying or feeling these things more than I want anyone to know. It seems that every time I "fall in love" again, I know that this is the ONE! Then the unmentionable happens, and after some arbitrary period of time the relationship doesn't end up being what I thought it was going to be. In the midst of letting the relationship run its course, I usually have compromised one more of my core principles, and I have to find a way to justify why I broke another promise to myself.
Therein lies my problem. I don't want anyone to tell me that I don't know what love is, or that the feelings I have for that special someone aren't genuine. Shame on you for even implying that you know whether my feelings for another person are genuine. I have heard the stories about your teenage years when love went bad, or how it was just an infatuation or lust. I know you learned that your heart would heal and that you would move on to the next "I'll never love anyone the way I love you" story. I know that I am just a teenager and that I am too young to commit, but it doesn't need to take away from the way I feel about another person at the time. Please don't take it upon yourself to decide for me what I feel and what I don't feel.
I wonder what would happen if you knew I was just in the learning curve of trying to figure out this love thing. I wonder what would happen if you would give me the benefit of the doubt when I told you that I loved someone, and if you didn't reprimand me for feeling that way. I wonder if I would be open to your input if it weren't laden with sarcasm and jabs about how much I don't know about "real" love, as if you do. The way I see this love phenomenon is that if love is really what makes the world go 'round, then no wonder our world is in such turmoil. What do any of us have to do to know if we really love someone and if that someone loves us back?
I don't like to be hurt, or to hurt someone else, but it seems in this love game someone will always be at risk to be hurt. I wish the adult in my life would spend more time helping me, as I am trying to understand the love game and how not to hurt others as I have. I wish the adults in my life would teach me how to handle the hurts that come my way as others play with my emotions. It seems I might be more open to advice and help in these two areas.
Telling me that I am too young to be in love does not do anything to me but make me want to prove to you that I can do the love thing better than you did. So then what happens is that I tell myself that I will stick with this one to prove to you that I am different from you and that I will make this work. I can't get out because I have to save face. I will compromise what I know is best for me to prove to you that I know more than you do about love. Even if I am about to go under, I will deny it because I can't walk away with dignity. I am so afraid you will say "I told you so" that I will commit to stay committed no matter how bad it gets.
I know I am too young to commit, so please help me learn about relationships and love without telling me how much I don't know. Help me not to compromise myself by not putting me into a corner with no way out. I know that I am only a teenager and that my heart will be broken many times before I find true love. But in the meantime, remember I'm just learning, so don't make fun of my feelings and criticize me.
IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Tucker, who has been in counseling practice since 1979, writes this column under the guidance of a panel of teenage advisers, who approve the topics and offer their insights (in exchange for pizza). You may write her c/o: IT!, X-Press, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridian@sptimes.com.