But I Said I’m Sorry

I treat emotional wounds like the breadcrumbs you sweep under the refrigerator when no one else is looking. Eventually, though, the fridge has to be moved for cleaning and there’s an even bigger mess to clean up that makes you wonder why you couldn’t have take a few extra moments to sweep up the rest of the crumbs and put them in the trash.

It’s like waiting for a wound to get infected before finally deciding to put a band-aid over it.

Time is supposed to heal all wounds. Time has not healed all my wounds, only lessened the pain, but it hasn’t dulled the memories. Pain is a memory. I might not forgive, I don’t hold a grudge, but I never forget. I don’t forget the feeling of betrayal, I don’t forget a forgotten birthday, and I will never forget the feeling of shock I felt after making plans with a significant other only to discover he had gone out of town without me. So many fights have ended with me crawling into bed crying my eyes out and begging him to tell me he’s sorry for hurting me.

But I never said those words. My mom used to say being sorry meant never doing the same thing over. I think that’s unrealistic. Humans are always going to hurt you. The problem is an unwillingness to admit to hurting. The number of relationships I’ve had has taught me less about love and more about what love is not.

Love is not guarded. I don’t believe love acts foolishly and takes unnecessary risks, either. When we hurt someone and refuse to acknowledge their pain, we risk losing someone forever. Love isn’t careless, and I have handled too many relationships carelessly. Saying sorry doesn’t let the other person know you’ve caused them pain. It’s a way of owning up to your actions. Vulnerability is implicit when loving another person. Love involves a certain kind of defenselessness. It’s opening up wounds to another person to let them know, Hey, you’re not alone.

This kind of thing is usually done in support groups, or between strangers. For some inexplicable reason, it’s somehow easier to pour your heart out to strangers. Maybe this goes to show how much we fear being judged, or losing someone else’s esteem all together. There’s nothing at stake with a stranger. The worst a stranger can do is walk away, and you’ll never see them again.

But you feel better for having told them.

Hurt hides in the deepest places. When someone says you’ve hurt them, they take the defensive. The opposite is letting down the walls long enough and becoming defenseless in front of them. There’s no guarantee the other person will care. My own experience has taught me that the other person has rarely, if ever, cared. It’s no wonder none of them have worked out. For me, it’s not really about how I think I deserve to be treated. It’s about how I can keep living with myself at the end of the day.

I’m the last person who wants to look back and see myself as broken. I don’t feel empowered by the number of times I’ve had to leave a relationship and start my life over again. I feel drained, used, and washed out. I fall into hopelessness. I get angry about how much time I’ve invested in doomed relationships. There’s nothing about any of them that makes me want them back, but there’s a part of me that mourns my old self, that wishes I would have cherished the innocence of never having been hurt in the first place. Nothing short of a miracle or a lobotomy would have changed the outcome. I don’t wonder if one thing would have been different, would it all be different. The truth I’ve had to accept is that most people, myself included, can’t or won’t be defenseless around the people they love the most out of fear of losing them or a part of ourselves forever.

There is not much about a person’s real self that makes them lovable. I’m not talking about flaws or shortcomings. I’m talking about the unchangeable aspects of a person’s soul, their scars and their stories, the things we will always remember them by. It’s one thing to know someone is proud or arrogant, and it’s another to understand where the arrogance comes from, and whether or not we think it’s justified. Love is incredibly evaluative.

There’s no chance of ever judging whether or not we love someone, until we know, exactly, what it is about them we are choosing to love.

All Things Love

This blog is about love. I mean that in the strictest sense of the word, but maybe not anymore. I started this blog in pursuit of learning more about love, about its nature and its essence.

I always come back to the same thing. The more I read about love, the less there is for me to say anything else on the topic, even though I’m more certain than ever I know what love is because it keeps manifesting itself for me in the same ways over again.

A blog is one of them. It’s the writing part I love, which I can’t do without an insane amount of reading. I still haven’t decided whether reading or writing is my true first love. What I have decided is that a blog is the best medium for my thoughts.

I never thought about what purpose my blog would serve. It was never a means to an end. Then I realized that’s what I meant when I chose love as the singular focus of everything I write. Love as a philosophy, love as a way of life, and love as something I find worth investing my time in.

I haven’t come close to exhausting love as a topic, yet I’m feeling stifled by the invisible constraints I’ve imposed on myself with this blog. I promised to only write on the subject of love, or poetry about love, when it’s far easier to show my work by pointing to the things I love.

This isn’t the first blog I’ve started. It is the most different. Poetry is not something I ever intended to write, and all the leftover white space makes me sad, no matter how much I like, love, or hate what I’ve written. I’m used to taking up a whole page and letting my thoughts take shape, preferably in a coherent manner.

No matter how many times I remind or reassure myself that writing is first and foremost for myself, there’s still an external pressure telling me to write differently, talk about something else, be someone else, and I usually end up getting myself stuck. I think a lot of writers end up in a familiar place.

One of the reason I chose a specific subject for my blog is because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of writing what anyone else likes more than I like something myself. I really love writing about love. I really miss writing about the things I love, the things that remind me that love is real, that it exists, and that love is a daily presence in my life because of what I do and how I choose to do it. Love is the motivating force for me behind ever word I write.

I don’t endorse purposelessness. I don’t want to wander through life aimlessly and I don’t want to scream words into empty air. There’s no escaping or denying the fact that humans respond to emotion in writing. I’ve done everything in my power to write about love detached from feeling and I can congratulate myself for being successful, or I can consider how pointless it is to write about love without the passion it requires. Words can make writers transparent or they can be constructed to obscure the truth. Writers keep a lot of tricks up their sleeves.

Love is confession and confession means telling the truth, and the truth is that love shouldn’t be separated from feelings because it’s feelings that make us human, that show our humanity from a place of total vulnerability. If there’s any purpose to this blog, it’s to show love by the work I do. I have a day job; this blog occupies a separate place in my life, the most special kind of place I call my private life, the one I don’t share with anyone else, except for the ones who are reading, who are virtually strangers and will only ever know me by the words I write.

So they have to mean something. If all things love means all things love, then love for me comes right here when I’m at the page, and what comes out is an extension of that, it’s an extension of me and who I am. Writing has never meant anything else to me. At best, this is me giving myself permission to write about the things I love fearlessly.

Writers have to do that a lot, give themselves permission, otherwise it becomes a practice in how to please, instead of how to pursue pleasure. What it is is writing for my own sake.

Because I like it.

On Love

Everyone wants to know what is meant by the word love. Curiosity is a part of human nature. It is an insatiable urge buried deep within the very marrow of our bones. Nobody is born knowing how to love. Most people discover their own definition of love by first learning what it is not. Curiosity about love usually comes from a place of lack and is taken for granted the most where it exists in abundance.

The risk involved with knowing what is love and what it is to love is to understand when what you are receiving is not love. To love is a choice and not an easy one to make. Too much attention is given on how to be loved. It is attached as a caveat after “how to love” each time. Self-interest doesn’t play a role in love. Love is selfless; love is other-oriented. Thought of as a gift, love is an act of kindness, intentional, not random.

Contemporary conversations about love use the word to mean “don’t judge.” Self-love is becoming more about embracing flaws and shortcomings, instead of encouraging growth. Coupled with self-care, ideas about love keep the emphasis on the self with dreaded phrases like “me” time cropping up.

The subject of love cannot be continued without first understanding what is meant when that word is used. Love has become entangled in so many other contradictory notions, it now lives on the fringes of collective consciousness in esoteric obscurity, in danger of being lost forever if not revived, and in some cases, revised.

The word love has been displaced by seemingly near synonyms that fail to capture the essence and nature of love: happiness, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction. Love is treated as a commodity, a means to an end. Love, like medicine, is a practice, as much religion as it is philosophy, and in rare cases, an absolute miracle.

The truth is that love is a delicate subject. The word itself has lost its vigor and potency the way it is used so casually and so carelessly. When love is brought up, it’s attached to relationships, marriage, sex, or politics. For some reason, love always comes with strings attached.

Examining love in isolation, detached from context, and cutting those strings, which have so far held together a working definition of love, is what makes the subject so incredibly complicated, yet still worthy of contemplation. Maybe even more so.

Love, if mentioned at all, is talked about in whispers and conveyed through hushed tones reserved for church corridors. It is borderline taboo, another forbidding aspect which makes the subject endlessly fascinating. It is no wonder, then, that love is found in proximity beside destructiveness. The desire to love and the desire to destroy are equally strong in human nature. Taboos imply silence, and if not broken, compliance. To bring up the subject of love is to destroy the barriers of silence surrounding it, to transgress against the taboo, while others still remain inhibited by how to talk about love.

Love is growth, it never destroys. Hatred is fueled by anger; love is fueled by desire: a desire to love without expectation of receiving anything back. Love, like religion, is best when not forced on anyone. The message of religion should never be conversion. Love exists as an intangible structure, an invisible framework for living. Love is also life. It is the opposite of death and decay.

This is a departure from the idea that humanity’s deepest desire is to love and be loved in return. There is never a guarantee you’ll be loved, or even liked, no matter what you do, even if you conform in the strictest sense of the word. Love as a mindset promises renewed satisfaction, not a permanent state. It must be reached over and over again.

Love is not only about the capacity, the will and desire to love, but also the ability to express that love as a need, meaning more than to gain a sense of belonging, and then to do whatever it takes to continue satisfying that need. Love this deep touches closely with fanaticism and cultivating a life of love is tantamount to obsession, addiction. It is love detached from feeling, as a mindset and a way of life singularly-focused on a continuously renewing process, an end in and of itself.

It is love for love’s sake.