Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In All Seriousness Lo asks, "What Is This Thing Called Love?"

 The fact is that certain circumstances in my life recently have caused me to question my own ability to love.   I find myself pondering the possibility that I cannot really love, but I know so well how to play the part  that I have been fooling  myself and other people for years.

Florence tells me I am a good person......I am not so sure about that right now.  Could it be that I have simply learned how to fake it superbly and really have a heart  like an iceberg ?  (Does anyone remember that great song. "Hard Hearted Hannah" ..... the vamp of Savannah.....the meanest gal in town.... talk about your cold, refrigerating Mammas....whoops, boys, she's a Polar bear's pajamas....)

But to get serious again, my most recent struggle in maintaining my relationships has caused me to ruminate on Love an general and my ability to love in particular.  Perhaps some of you may think it strange for an ancient person such as myself to be thinking and philosophizing about love.  Not at all.  Don't be silly.  Love is the most important thing in our lives.  The ability to love others and to be loved/accept love is what keeps us alive.  And equally as important,I have learned,  is the ability to love ourselves which somehow is creating a conundrum that I am having trouble solving.  I have found that there is a certain point at which one must stop being loving or at least say "No" to another's request because it becomes harmful to one's own well being.

Oh, hell, you must know that I am not talking about the love of  " falling in love" .......that usually bears little relationship to real love... ... though it may, in some cases, develop into the real thing somewhere down the line.  ( The love experienced when you are falling is usually 97% lust egged on by some childish faulty judgment.)

No, I am talking about caring about someone who makes you happy and wanting to make them happy and/or make their lives better. Or something like that.  There are so many kinds and degrees of love.  At the top, I guess, is unconditional love.  The kind that makes people rush into burning buildings to save the ones they love at risk of their own lives.   The kind that, no matter what awful thing you discover about a loved one, no matter how they may disappoint or even betray you in some way or another, you can adjust and still love them in spite of it all.  I realized that I am not very good at that kind of love.  I am too judgmental.   There are some things which can make me stop loving a person altogether.... like shaking something repellent off my fingers.  I don't think that is acceptable in the field of love and I guess Ishould be ashamed, but I don't think I am.

There is also the slippery slope where love turns into need......a totally different thing.   Barbra Streisand  you are wrong.....People who need people are not the luckiest people in the world.  Need can turn what was once love into subliminal anger and possibly an uncontrolled fear and worrying that you might lose the object of your affection.  Love becomes adulterated and burdensome to both lover and lovee..

Then, there is the dangerous path where  caring too much slips,without your realizing it, into martyrdom.  Been there, done that.  Didn't like it and had to give it up.  I think I  am pretty good about caring, but unfortunately I have found myself caring about and for people so much that it almost killed me.  I have had to learn to pull back and save a little bit for myself. And I know I care too much about animals, but I can't help it.  They are so pure , beautiful, honest and unsullied that I must love them and care for them as much as I can.......but even there I draw a line.  I have refused to bankrupt myself to save an animal that I loved and I have, with much agony, had to give up several beloved cats who had such incurable bad habits that they made my life a living hell. and ultimately caused a fire that almost destroyed my house.  I still feel bad about that, but it was a definite case of Me or Them.  I guess I am just too selfish to love unconditionally. 

So, please, those of you whom I love, don't get trapped in a burning building and expect me to rush in and save you unless there is a damned good chance we can both get out alive and unscorched.    Better yet.....just don't get trapped in any burning buildings.

So there we are.....or...where are we?   Where can I rate myself on the scale of being a loving person?  Hell, to me it looks like about a 2.  Sigh.  I will have to keep working at it I guess..

Am I Beelzebub or Mother Theresa? Closer perhaps to St Francis?...........Naaaaah.  Too dramatic.

I guess I am just Lo who can only  love imperfectly.


  1. I gotta laugh... I just posted a post about myself ... and yours just hit home... I need to get where you are... I'm about 3/4 there.

    Great post! I needed this... I'll be 69 next week... hope I'm still kicking and 'got it' together when I'm 84...

    I think of the next 15 years and oh, baruther --- I need to shit or get off the proverbial pot... I'm drinking the prune juice ;)

    Inspiration! y'are!

  2. Nah, you just think too much. Supposedly, we are loved for our flaws but it's not so easy to forgive the flaws in others. (I just wish I weren't so flawless! lol) Whether we like it or not, we're a product of our pasts and some take so much work to simply cope with that we just can't commit 100%. Gives away too much power. I think that's the purpose of religion -- to have a group of people supporting you through whatever. At least, it's a sense of community. (BTW, stay out of burning buildings, yourself -- I may opt to doing a watercolor of it!)

  3. I believe you are over-thinking it a bit. I believe you are describing an absolute which you feel you are unable to attain. I would argue that the absolute, the holy grail, does not exist. This love stuff is imperfect and messy, and may even be a rationalization of a sort. But I suspect if you subtract the notion of love from the human condition, we (individually and collectively) would be worse off. I think that accepting and acknowledging love, even though it can be questioned over and over again, reaps a better payback than feeling that you are incapable of love and reject it.

  4. This hit home for me in a lot of ways. I, too, have gotten rid of people in my life whom I have loved so very dearly because of some of the reasons you listed. Being needy is one but it goes beyond just "needy." I cannot save anyone's life or sanity. That's just the truth. I can barely hang on to my own at times. And I'm too old to have people in my life whom I can't count on to be the same person two days in a row. People who are loving and kind one day and completely off the rails and accusing me of things I have no idea what they're talking about the next. No. I can't live like that.

  5. I think you know how to lover perfectly...the examples you stated are not love ..they are co-dependant ideas. The thing is we know how to love we just love ourselves also which means we don't put up with bs from others. Good post!

  6. YOu know what it should be like, so that puts you at more than a 2 for a start!

  7. This is an inspired bit of writing Lo.. and I found myself nodding my head in agreement nearly the whole time I spent reading it.

  8. Very thought-provoking post! I have found that as I get older (and older) I'm constantly re-evaluating myself, rehashing old relationships and events and finding myself lacking in some way. I can't help it, but it's bringing me down. So, now I'm considering if it is healthy to be doing such soul-searching! I just can't win...sigh.

  9. Okay. I had to come back and add something. The thing people do which make me want to scratch them out of my address book (and delete them from my contact list) is to try to solve all of my problems! You know these people! Their own lives are in shambles and yet, they constantly have just the right bit of information or advice to whip my life into shape!
    Yes. I am so mean that I can't stand overly-helpful people.
    I mean it.

  10. Unconditional love? We can't, we are human. We just do the best we can.

  11. There are a lot of people in my life that I love with all my heart..The reward of loving others is the love I get is priceless to me. You, dear Lo, have been the most loving friend I have. I have found that the way you show your love varies with the different ones you love..I let them know that I love them, trust in God to keep them safe, and know they love me in return. "That" makes my world keep turning. I didn't count, but how many times did I say love in this comment!! lol

  12. Hmmm...your post and your comments are facinating. It's quite amazing how many different definitions for this thing called "love" we have, most--as you so eloquently say--change with maturity. For myself, I've come to realize that I do not love unconditionally. I believe only God has that capacity. Perhaps the exception to this is what I feel for my boys--but even that, I have expectations, conditions. If they don't respect and honor me, they lose privaleges. Love is not one way--that is merely enabling. Love wants the best for someone...and at times that means you are hard as nails and stand in thier way. Or leave.

    Every true relationship is two way...and for a long time I felt as if my desire for the other people in my life to give back to me was somehow wrong. Coming to understand that healthy love in friendship as well as romance actually REQUIRES an exchange, mutual effort, and equal investment has freed me. Given me the ability to breathe again.

    Marvelous post.

  13. This is a great posting I have read. I like your article.