What kind of Love allows the option of leaving? The answer came to me suddenly this morning as I lay in my bed wondering whether N was equally disturbed by the loud noises coming from outside our building. Knowing his morning routine so well, I knew he was undoubtedly awake, though no longer here with me. There is only One form of love that provides an Exit Option, and it's the form that people are often most comfortable with: Love of Self. In many ways and for many reasons, this can be chalked up to Self-Preservation.
"I love you, but I can't take this anymore," which can be broken down logically to:
Desire to avoid conflict/Desire to ignore painful issues > Love for the belovedor Desire to protect self from getting hurt > Potential that beloved will be hurt
But is that true Love, when we know that love is not supposed to seek its own? What good is Love that is "unending" if the end result is that we leave behind the people who love us most to their own devices? Is that Tough Love or is it Counterfeit?
Undoubtedly, there is a great deal of pain one must take upon themself in administering any brand of Tough love, and where Self Love trumps Love of Another, a hedonistic approach will ultimately be preferred - one in which pain is minimized for the Absent lover and consequently maximized for the lover left behind. The equation - and results - becomes tougher on all parties involved. But how do you really quantify Love?
"I know he still loves me, even though he left me," I said as I gripped my knees with both hands and looked into his eyes as though I had all the confidence in the world in what I was saying.
"I don't know that you know what you think you know," he said.
This was Thinkspeak, undoubtedly designed to rob me of my conviction in the matter or to force me to question my own assumptions, however ill-conceived or comforting they might be to me. I just stared coldly back. I did not realize then that he was only applying cold logic to what I'd said. I decided to revise my statement, "I know he loved me as much as he was capable of loving another person." He seemed satisfied with that -- though I'm sure it's only because in the end he got me to admit on some small level that N's love was tainted or that I had been deceived. (A hollow victory, if you ask me.) Still, his words followed me long after our time together had ended and gnawed at my vainly concealed discontent throughout the night.
Why did I need to believe that N had loved me or might love me still? What purpose could it serve any longer? Was it a matter of a pride -- needing to be reassured that I had not been deceived? Was it a matter of having something from the past to hold on to -- a time to look back on and say "I was really loved?" (Surely for me, that is no small matter.) Or was it just a means of avoiding the unalterable truth: that in the end, whatever the logical breakdown or equation, N left me. Logically speaking, given the end result, saying he still loved me was little more than a parting gift. Maybe that's what I've been avoiding. Has my faith in his love become a poor justification for my own love? In any case, the further I break it down, the more I realize, that justified or not - and whether or not I ever have it "all figured out" - nothing changes. If all I have left is the Love in my heart, I have something, and what have I to lose by clinging to it? Peace of mind maybe? But that's a whole other equation... and I'm weary of logic this morning...
Sometimes, there is no sense to be made. Sometimes the only logical choice is to hold on to what is real for us even when there is no justification -- until we better grasp the truth. Eventually, we'll lose our crutches, and hopefully when that happens we won't be crushed by the weight of them when we fall... we undoubtedly will again. At least I'll do so knowing that I fought to hold on -- as illogical as that will surely sound to anyone who hasn't loved with utter disregard for their own heart. The love I have, unrequited as it may surely be, is still my own. There's strength in that.