Posts tagged with "love"

aporia of faith

In recent years I’ve been rumi­nat­ing on the ques­tion of whether or not humans have inher­ent val­ue, per­haps because my sui­ci­dal ideation caus­es me to won­der whether life itself is worth­less. The sub­jec­tiv­i­ty of such a idea means I don’t ask any­one for an answer, but I do probe for opin­ions. My friends have all told me that they believe peo­ple are inher­ent­ly valu­able; or, at the very least, they know they’re valu­able because they val­ue them­selves, even if they can’t say the same about any­one else.

This sur­prised me at first; I can remem­ber believ­ing that each per­son is a bur­den on soci­ety who has to earn their place, as soon as I was old enough to under­stand such a con­cept1. But a few years ago when I told this to Jesse, he expressed dis­be­lief based on the way he’s observed my treat­ment of oth­ers.

Being chal­lenged about my views by a per­son I so high­ly respect­ed cer­tain­ly gave me pause to recon­sid­er. When I thought about a stranger I might meet on the street, I felt that that life would be a ben­e­fit to the world, that that per­son deserves to be loved, hap­py, safe, and healthy as much as any­one else sim­ply because they exist. Suddenly, I real­ized that it was myself whom I believed to be worth­less, and I extend­ed this belief to oth­ers to soothe any pains I had over such a thought. I did­n’t despair about my worth­less­ness if every­one else had just as lit­tle val­ue.

I can trace this warped world­view to my child­hood, when my par­ents treat­ed me sim­ply as an exten­sion of their lives. They made it clear that their love was pure­ly con­di­tion­al, based on my obe­di­ence, achieve­ments at school/work, friends, roman­tic part­ners, and how those all com­pared to oth­ers. I was always work­ing from a deficit of love, try­ing to earn their approval and affec­tion by doing the “right” thing, which was defined as what they want­ed2.

This is no more appar­ent than when try­ing to show myself com­pas­sion (or per­haps mag­na­nim­i­ty would be the bet­ter word). Imagining myself as anoth­er per­son before me, every time I say to him “You deserve to be hap­py”, my mind can’t help but fin­ish the sen­tence with “…as long as you…” as if that hap­pi­ness is con­tin­gent upon some lev­el of per­for­mance at a work­place.

Unfortunately, aware­ness does­n’t resolve the issue. Even though I had an epiphany that helped me under­stand the fal­la­cy of my world­view, try­ing to sud­den­ly believe that I have an inher­ent val­ue seems as implau­si­ble as find­ing a ran­dom peb­ble on the ground and believ­ing that it’s worth the same as a pol­ished gem­stone. No won­der the opin­ion I have of myself has been so great­ly influ­enced by oth­ers; I’ve been rely­ing on the approval of my peers to give me the val­ue I so des­per­ate­ly desire3.

So if the worth of a per­son is sub­jec­tive and there are no absolute truths, how is it pos­si­ble for me to gen­uine­ly believe that I have val­ue after a life­time of believ­ing that I don’t?

  1. I’m sure that grow­ing up in a cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety that views any­one who does­n’t work (includ­ing seniors) as lazy and worth­less con­tributed to this belief. []
  2. Not only would this cause me to feel like I had to con­stant­ly earn my hap­pi­ness, this would also cause me to believe any dif­fi­cul­ties I faced were my fault — that I must be to blame if some­one did­n’t find me attrac­tive, or I must have deserved any­thing I suf­fered. []
  3. I even­tu­al­ly learn that exter­nal forms of val­i­da­tion like this are unre­li­able and gen­er­al­ly unhealthy. []

projector

A while back, my ther­a­pist asked, “Do you think Heather will love you, regard­less of whether you’re active­ly con­tribut­ing to the rela­tion­ship?”. I told him I was­n’t sure, cause I was still try­ing to under­stand the con­cept of uncon­di­tion­al love. As a child, my par­ents told me they would­n’t love me if I was­n’t a good boy, and a good boy would do exact­ly what they want­ed. The affec­tion they doled out was direct­ly relat­ed to how well I did in school, or how much I impressed oth­er par­ents. They used it as a tool to con­trol me, and this dynam­ic has influ­enced my under­stand­ing of rela­tion­ships to the point that it feels like I con­stant­ly need to be mak­ing efforts in them (or they’ll decay).

So my ther­a­pist instead posed the ques­tion, “Do you think Heather will love you, no mat­ter what?”. My first reac­tion was one of con­fu­sion; I heard the same ques­tion as before. When I real­ized it had com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent impli­ca­tions — would Heather still love me if I was an axe mur­der­er; if I was racist; if I burned the house down; if I did­n’t love her back — it dawned on me that I was pro­ject­ing this mon­u­men­tal require­ment on myself to be con­stant­ly mak­ing efforts towards the rela­tion­ship. It was­n’t an expec­ta­tion Heather was bring­ing, but my own; one I pro­ject­ed on her due to my child­hood trau­ma.

To real­ize that I was doing this in such a spe­cif­ic and sig­nif­i­cant man­ner was a shock. My mind inad­ver­tent­ly made bounds in log­ic, and every time Heather said, “I’ll always love you”, I would hear, “I’ll always love you, as long as…1

Continue read­ing “pro­jec­tor”…

  1. It blows my mind to know that Heather’s love for me isn’t con­di­tion­al, that she loves me deep­er that I’m even able to under­stand at the moment. []

those who leave but never leave you

I’m sor­ry she nev­er replied, but I’m also glad you fig­ured out that she does­n’t owe you an answer. I think that says a lot about how much you’ve grown and how far you’ve come as a per­son.

It was no small step to reach out after all this time and the things you’ve been through togeth­er. I think you did the right thing cause of the way things end­ed. Offering to make amends by putting your feel­ings out there was more gen­er­ous than I’d expect of any­one.

After all, you nev­er deserved to be led on like that. I wish I could explain why she did­n’t give you the space you need­ed at first. I’m sor­ry you weren’t strong enough at the time to stand up for your­self, but it does­n’t mean you deserved it. It was­n’t fair. You were lone­ly and vul­ner­a­ble and it was the last thing your heart need­ed to heal. I don’t blame you for hav­ing a hard time get­ting over her after that.

That’s why you had every right to ask for anoth­er break. Needing it was nev­er a reflec­tion or judg­ment on who she was. Just because she did­n’t like it does­n’t mean you did any­thing wrong. In fact, she should have respect­ed you and your request instead of get­ting upset or tak­ing it as a val­u­a­tion on her as a per­son.

I’m sor­ry she nev­er acknowl­edged your pain or her role in it. I’m sor­ry part of you still feels so bad­ly messed up. I’m sor­ry you nev­er had a chance to tell her.

The fact that you haven’t heard back is like­ly a sign of how much she tru­ly cares about you. That does­n’t mean you have to stop lov­ing her. Your feel­ings are com­plete­ly valid. It’s okay to love some­one from a dis­tance. It does­n’t make you a bad part­ner or per­son.

So take as much time as you need. There’s no right or wrong way to mourn the end of a rela­tion­ship.

a reckless careening of emotions and actions

That’s how you described your­self, soon after your dad died. A girl lost in grief, try­ing to drink and smoke and work and fuck her way out. Living her life like she was the only one who had­n’t fig­ured out what to do with it.

It’s hard to imag­ine you being so sad once. Or sad at all, and secure enough to admit lone­li­ness. You even had the objec­tive­ness to know that you shrank from oth­ers even though you did­n’t make your­self hap­py. That’s why I keep going through these entries in your old blog. Not just a dream jour­nal, but a jour­nal of dreams. Before you became trapped in a domes­tic life and your heart turned into a lump of stone.

Continue read­ing “a reck­less careen­ing of emo­tions and actions”…

to drink all damage into love

My three-year anniver­sary with Heather came and went with­out fan­fare or cer­e­mo­ny (or even notice, on my part). Our time togeth­er went by in a blink; being chron­i­cal­ly sin­gle for me, and trapped in an abu­sive rela­tion­ship for her, made the three years pri­or to that feel like an eter­ni­ty by com­par­i­son for each of us. It was only halfway through that I real­ized part of me was keep­ing her at a sig­nif­i­cant dis­tance.

When we first start­ed spend­ing time togeth­er, I was drawn most to her inno­cence. The way she viewed the world with an open mind1 made me feel com­fort­able in a way I imme­di­ate­ly found attrac­tive. I could tell her calm demeanour belied a dark­ness though; she knew a tremen­dous amount of pain in her short life, and that made her the same kind of old soul as me. Still, I nev­er dared imag­ine things may work out between us, cause my pre­vi­ous lover was com­plete­ly unex­pect­ed in both the com­ing and going, and the expe­ri­ence left me raw. Somewhat con­verse­ly, I was also too numb to believe any­thing was real. It was only a cou­ple weeks after Heather entered my life that I tried to hang myself, and sur­viv­ing meant every­thing felt posthu­mous.

Continue read­ing “to drink all dam­age into love”…

  1. I relate it to the con­cept of an “uncar­ved block” or “pu” in Taoism: a state of recep­tive­ness, before the taint of expe­ri­ence, that gives one the poten­tial to see things with­out judg­ment or prej­u­dice. []