LOVE, BABY, LOVE
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If You're Falling In And Out Of Love, It Is Not Love
So how many books and articles and hubs do you imagine there are on the topic of LOVE? Is there room for one more?
Perhaps, I’d guarantee myself a larger audience if I wrote a poem or even a song. Or better yet, a You Tube Video. Yes, I’d be in my hippie clothes, sitting on a rug puffing on my old bong left over from all those love ins. Just for the record, I don’t have a new or an old bong!! And unfortunately, even though I grew a great beard, I never participated in a love in. Darn! But it would make a great video!
So back to the question. Is there room for one more hub on the topic of love? I decided to consult with Bill Shakespeare (1- 800 SONNETS) and King Solomon (1- 800 KINGAMI), and they were both quite emphatic.
To write some more about this state
Of mind we all enjoy or not
O Bard, Ver-non, it is your fate
To write of love while pen is hot
.And Solomon said,
People think, just because I sat on my throne for forty years, that I must have been the most constipated King in the history of the world. But you, great hubber, you have no throne, let alone a throne to defend, and you are so full of, what is that word? crap, wisdom, insight? Well, whatever it is, you are full of it, so write away.
So with that counsel from two very great men, who had lots to tell us about love, I embark on this hub, Love, Baby, Love . For those of you who may not know, King Solomon is credited with writing the Song of Songs , which is quite a love poem in the Old Testament. So if you really believe that Scripture is inspired by the Big One in the sky, you gotta believe that the Big One in the sky loves LOVE, and not just Agape love, but sensual love.
So fasten your seat belt. Here we go.
To start with, it is interesting to me that both Old and New Testament Scriptures invite us or command us actually, to love our neighbors as ourselves. And looking at some of you, the way you do NOT love yourself, I feel pretty sorry for your neighbors! I know, offensive and tacky. But I just could not resist. BUT I confess, I too fall into that category of loving myself miserably at times. I too can become like Ranger Jack. Who’s Ranger Jack? One uptight, anal, frowney Camp Host at Dinkey Creek, California. I spent the weekend recently under his watchful eye. We had LOTS of fun despite him, and I think we all came to love him by the time the weekend was over. Well, yea, I went too far in saying that! He was one pain in the you know what as I was to him!
So back on track here. I gotta tell ya right off the bat. (Now that’s an interesting expression. Must have some reference to baseball, No?) Okay, so I gotta tell ya, I look askance (it just came out of my fingertips!) at the experience of "falling in love." I believe in the "falling in" part, but I’m not sure it’s love we are falling into. Definitely a chemical imbalance!
So here’s the scoop for me. I have a belief, that once you actually DO love and actually RECEIVE love, it is a permanent experience and not an experience you can fall out of. So if you are falling in and out of love, whether this is happening nightly with your one nightstand (I thought about making love to the one nightstand I have, and appropriately it is next to my bed, but I just couldn’t see the point nor could I imagine any kind of excitement or thrill) or it is happening after months or years with the same partner or different partners, I want to suggest that perhaps it is not love into which and out of which we are falling.
We are definitely FALLING. Bipolar experience par excellence. From cocaine like ecstacy to devastation. NO, I only know that cocaine makes our brain cells fire with such intensity that it can cause a seizure. The closest I have come to experiencing cocaine was taking a rather large bite of Black Angus horseradish, and they may or may not appreciate the comparison!!
So back on track here. I suspect that the experience of falling in and out of love is not love. It makes no sense to me that Love is a roller coaster ride. Yes, love can provide us with ecstacy when we dance the dance and incredible agony when the beloved leaves us in one way or another, but the ecstacy and the agony is not the love. Love, I am beginning to think is a less volatile and more permanent experience. Even when the beloved is physically gone, the love remains. So when I hear myself saying, I will never take the risk to love again, it perhaps tells me that I have never experienced love in the first place.
So how many of you are already skipping down to write a comment?
I have this hunch that our capacity and perhaps even our "ability," if you will, to love and be loved (receive love) is very much intertwined with our experiences during the first nine months of life, perhaps during the first three years of life, perhaps even the first six years of life or even the first twelve years. So let’s take a little trip down developmental lane.
During the first nine months of life, we are totally dependent upon the folks, who love us, to experience being welcomed, to experience belonging, to experience being fed and cared for, to experience our skin being touched in such a way that we are totally drunk on endorphins and at peace lying in our own pee and poop, "knowing" full well that someone will take care of even that! The neuropathways that are created during all of those interpersonal and intrapersonal experiences are fundamental to our ability to love and be loved. And if all is going well during those nine months, there is no such experience of falling in and out of love. We love the people who are there when we cry (and remember crying is the only language we have), and we love being loved by those same people. In some ways, it is very much a one way experience of big people loving the little person, but the beginnings of a reciprocal relationship as our brain begins to tune into the mirroring face of the person who loves us and we, in turn, love them. And our mirror neurons begin to develop mental models of what it means to love and be loved. Yes, all that happens in the first nine months.
Then our legs grow and become operational! By the time we are eighteen months old, our legs are working so well that for the next eighteen months, we walk and run from our caretakers who better not run away from us and who better always be there when we come looking for them. It is also the time we say NO to everything even the things we like. This saying no, this moving away, sometimes running away and then coming back, represents the biological (yes, biological) "software" (need) that takes us through a psychological separation from the big people on whom we were previously TOTALLY dependent. And we are still totally dependent on them to provide us with the experience of being totally and unconditionally lovable despite our adventures and despite what appears to be defiance. But what appears to be defiance is simply Nature’s way (God’s way, if you will) of moving us toward independence..
During this eighteen to thirty six months time period, if Mom and Dad go off to Club Med for a week or two for a well-deserved vacation, and leave us in the good hands of Gma and Gpa, we may end up, through only the "fault" of the developmental time table, with a hole in our soul, because we cannot run all the way to Club Med to check in, to see if Mom and Dad are still here. As we take this experience of not being able to find Mom and Dad, into adulthood, and we probably won’t have access to the experience in terms of what is called explicit memory, so memory of the event in contrast to implicit memory or memory of "only" the emotion, we may find ourselves leery of love or terrified every time our partner does not show up when they promised they would, or we just might end up choosing people who everyone else can see from the getgo (except us) are going to leave after they have gotten whatever they need from us.
Yes, this is very very tough stuff. Breathe! Let it sink in. Cry if you will. Snarl! Rant. Yes, I could be totally off base, BUT.
You see it is very simple. It takes our hippocampus (memory) about three years to mature to the point that it can hold on to both an "image" and a felt sense of our caretakers for those times that they are not physically present. And even at three years old, that ability to hold on to the image and the felt sense of our caretakers is still tenuous.
So now we are up to three years old. From three to six years old, I become an independent little person who begins mimicking adult behaviors and language and postures and attitudes. Again, while becoming my own independent self, it is imperative my caretakers, usually Mom and Dad, continue to shower me with experiences of being loved unconditionally while at the same time honoring and respecting my new surge toward "doing it all by myself." Telling me that my shoes are tied into a heap of knots and that you are going to show me how to tie them right, leaves me "abandoned" in my quest for independence. I still need you to tell me, "Wow, look at that. You’re learning to tie your shoes." That way, I can keep coming back and showing you and even asking you to show me again how to tie them, rather than avoiding your criticism and only learning to tie better and better knots.
When you shame my striving for independence, the shame blocks my ability to love and be loved and creates another one of those holes. And as an adult, my comfort zone then is with people who are hell bent on criticizing every thing I do or who are hell bent on being totally enmeshed with me. I can’t seem to be successful in ANY relationship without an exorbitant amount of validation.
From six to teenage years, I learn to shift gears and move from independence to interdependence which includes both the capacity and ability for teamwork and friendship. If my caretakers overprotect me or underprotect me, my ability to develop friends, to feel close to friends, to stand on my own two feet with my friends, to leave my friends when life calls for an ending, is stunted or perhaps withers away all together. As an adult, I make sure I never get too close to anyone. I prefer to work on projects by myself. I pick other folks who are equally cautious and distant in their relationships. We get together through some initial chemistry, but when the chemistry wanes, our relationship is good but boring.
Teenage years brings about an almost complete repetition of the four stages connected with zero to twelve years old. With respect to love, the saddest thing I see in my practice is fathers abandoning their teenage daughters because they are afraid to touch them, afraid to hug them, afraid to sit next to them, afraid to put their arm around them, and worse sometimes Moms let Dads know, in no uncertain terms, that they are also afraid to have Dad give their daughter(s) any kind of affection. Do I need to go into any detail how this affects a young woman’s capacity to love and be loved?
Teenage boys have usually gone untouched by anyone since about age three, so they are like sponges waiting to suck up any kind of physical experience and sex quickly becomes almost addictive and ends up defining their experience of love.
So moving through the first four stages of development and then adolescence, we end up here. About eighteen years old and looking for love. And full of holes in our souls from what will always be an imperfect life. No one gets through the stages of development without some wounding. And because the previous four or five years of adolescence have been so volatile with hormones flying, bodily changes for better and worse happening almost by the minute, being stared in the face by the daunting task of putting together a plan for the rest of my life, I am drawn to any experience that brings me some emotional reprieve or better, ecstacy. (And interestingly enough, there’s a drug called ecstacy!) AND, you guessed it. What brings us ecstacy is what everyone is calling "falling in love." But with falling in love comes the agony of falling out of love. Drama Drama Drama. I don’t think these experiences are love, but they feel like love because they temporarily fill in the holes in our souls from the wounds that all of us will receive from life.
As a man, and typically men are slow learners, it has taken me sixty five years to become keenly conscious of my holes and how these holes have either hindered me in experiencing both loving and being loved or have provided me a "false positive" of what love is.
I no longer "buy" that love entails agony and pain and whatever ecstacy there is, is short lived and not lasting. That’s not to say that we do not experience agony and pain in relationships and that the ecstacy we experience when we say we are "in love," is in fact short lived. Yes, it does come and go. But I am beginning to think that that roller coaster ride, as real as it is, is something other than love. Perhaps the roller coaster ride is a measure of the healing or lack of healing of those "holes"" I keep referring to.
I do not know if I’m zeroing in on something here or not. It may seem like old hat to some of you, but I had this awareness the other day. When I decide to love you and simultaneously decide to be loved by you, I am answering an invitation to be accountable not only to you, but perhaps even to the larger community of people, and I am answering an invitation to be responsible enough to take care of this precious experience called love. It’s not to be taken lightly or sluffed off as some insane romantic impulse, especially when we are on the receiving end of the other’s love for us. Loving and being loved is HUGE. It’s not particularly complicated, but it is huge, not be taken lightly, not for the faint hearted, not to be placed in a whimsical category of being swept off your feet. Love requires GROUNDEDNESS..
And here’s a very essential ingredient of the recipe. Many of us, perhaps all of us, I don’t know. Haven’t done the Gallup pole yet, but I think most of us have a hard time believing that anyone could find us, find me, THAT lovable. I know the depth of that disbelief because the tears are instantly whelming up as I write this very sentence.
I also know that disbelief, for me, comes from way back when. It’s one of those holes I keep talking about. And no blame here. My parents did the best they knew how, but the reality is they could not make the physical pain go away nor could my pediatrician. I was an infant, and Thank God, that pediatrician went on vacation, because the doctor (a woman!) who filled in, took care of it all in an instant!
I’ve always suspected those nine months of unrelenting pain have something to do with my keeping love at bay, and it has been quite a revelation in recent months, in the midst of new grief, to be shaken to my senses by more than one person, shaking me till I believe they really love me. Yes, indeed, that experience of letting love in can be very exhilarating, but with it comes a gentle and precious responsibility.
If I use the analogy of a meal, I can’t just gobble up your love or gobble up as much as I can and take home the left overs for myself later. As ecstatic as the experience is, I can’t hang on the ecstasy, like hanging on a clothes line, because at some point, I weigh the ecstasy down. Nor can I just take the ecstasy and run with it forgetting the community of people around me and around you. Thinking that the ecstasy is only for me or perhaps only for us is like pillaging and ravishing and forgetting all the people who are dependent upon what I am gobbling up and stealing away.
So I am beginning to look at a kind of measuring "stick" for myself when it comes to experiencing love, either me loving you or being loved by you. Does what we are calling love bring a huge brilliant light to the space around us? Does what we are calling love make me walk tall and love even more all the other people in my "circle?" Does it increase my compassion for those relationships where I experience intense–intense–conflict and pain? Does the love shake me to the bone to loving myself, so my neighbors will be excited about being loved by me the way I love myself?!
So given what we have explored so far, is there any way that one could fall in and out of love? NO!. Love is a permanent experience that stays with YOU even beyond our dying moment through to infinity.
Oh I know, that sounds what? Maybe King Solomon was correct in his assessment of me!!
Nevertheless, I am beginning to believe it is true–love is not something we fall in and out of. It has permanency to it..
So why am I writing all of this? Well, in recent months, life has changed a great deal for me. What I thought was always going to be there, is no more and yes, I contributed a LOT to the disappearance. In the meantime, in my grief, people, many people, men and women, have come to me, uninvited, and have offered me kindness, gentleness, healing, and love. Makes me wonder where I have been in recent years. I am stunned. It makes me question A LOT.
I grew up in a family where boundaries were at times all but non existent, and so I have had to work extra hard, both professionally and personally, to develop healthy boundaries. Well, these boundaries have been very successful in keeping me professionally in line and personally safe. They are good boundaries, and I have nothing but gratitude for them. But they have also kept simple, innocent, love at a distance, and even in the context of my profession as a healer, perhaps have kept the people, who come to me for healing, from experiencing love at its safest, the way we were all supposed to experience love when we were infants.
You know, it feels like being way out there on a cliff or a limb even making such a statement as that, but I’m going to take the risk to say it loud and publicly. And my boundaries, as excellent as they are, perhaps at this stage of my life, have kept others from loving me. It’s like I have managed to carry a huge neon sign that keeps flashing, "Don’t even think of loving me. It is against the rules." And the boundaries, in turn, have kept others from experiencing my love for them.
You know, I feel really comfortable with my boundaries, really really safe, but perhaps needlessly safe, because there is no real danger. And so I am sure that it is good for me to reevaluate. Perhaps my boundaries, as defined as they are, are no longer serving anyone. It's kind of like locking the door and turning on the alarm when I am working at the office late in the evening. But I would never think of locking the door and putting on the alarm during the day when I know clients are going to be showing up for their appointments.
Tonight, while grocery shopping, a woman in her thirties, someone I have known since her childhood, who had just returned to work after having her second child, came running up to me, hugged me, and told me that she had been thinking about me. Right there in the front of aisle 09, close to the check out line and neither one of us talks softly! There was no reserve or holding back for her. She never stopped to think for a moment what she was doing or saying to me. And through some miracle of the universe, I was totally relaxed with another person’s care and concern for me in such a public arena. Would I say she loved me? Does she have some implicit awareness that I love her? And she wanted to know when she and her husband could make an appointment! I was taken aback by her glow of being a new Mom. I was blown away by the experience of being pulled into her love for life without even asking. What a special moment. David, my son, referred to it as "sweet." And why would I ever again want to protect myself from this person’s approach or love or enthusiasm for life or concern for me? Whatever you want to call it, why would I ever again put up my professional boundary with this person? She certainly has no need for me to do that. She has her own very healthy boundaries and maybe I can learn a few lessons from her what healthy boundaries really are.
If I had clung to my boundaries, I would not have my buddy Bruce who I supervised as an intern too many years ago, and who now "supervises" me as we meet each Wednesday morning to share time supporting each other in our work and in our varied relationships, including our relationship with our Senior Partner. Bruce pays for coffee when I can’t afford to pay even when it is my turn to pay. And I unashamedly borrowed, no took, twenty bucks from him a few months back to put gas into my car. Now that is someone who really loves me
Then there is Dan who is taking me out to dinner and a movie tonight. Yes, we love each other. No, we are not in any closet. I walked with him through a divorce, and he was at my side the night before and the night after Roberta died. We have a wonderful story of having dinner together the evening Roberta died and she coming to us and offering us bread! I may have already shared that story in a previous blog, but if not, I will in the future.
Then there is my son, David, and it is cool that on any given day, he is my son or he is my father!! He is also taking me out to dinner this weekend. Do I love David? You damn right I do. Do I allow him to love me? I’m getting there! Is there some kind of parent child boundary that needs to be held steadily in place? Absolutely NOT!
There is my brother in law, Joe, who listened to me tell part of my life story last weekend as we drove down a mountain highway east of Fresno. Anyone in their right mind, would have pulled the truck over at one point and said, ""Okay, Vern, that’s all I want to hear of your life story. A little too weird for me. OUT! Walk the rest of the way. I’m sure you will make it before dark!" But he didn’t. He conveyed to me that he really understood.
I recently spent time with one of my sisters who is blind and she has more insight than anyone with twenty twenty. And she loves me, I mean really loves me, in a way that leaves me speechless. And I am finally learning how to not only love her, but really convey that to her. And she laughs at all my stupid jokes!
There is also my sister, Terri, who stayed up till three in the morning watching me in a movie with Jack Nicholson! Yes, I knew that would get your attention! The movie is called, The Challenge , made in 1963 when jack Nicholson was relatively unknown. I was also unknown and remain unknown, at least in film!! The details for another hub! She got up when she just wanted to sleep in and walked five miles with me just for the heck of it! Just for the fun of our relationship together. Now that is love.
My sister, Marianne, invited me over to eat Chinese food in her beautiful garden. We talked and laughed and shared our journeys in therapy. She trusts me so. She’s like a Redwood Tree in my life.
There is Candy who not only bated me with the possibility of multigrain pancakes if I came camping, but actually came through. AND invited me to make the pancakes with her the second morning from some really good scratch. It was like Michaelangelo inviting me to paint the Sistine Chapel with him. I’m serious. Not to mention that we sat up together till three in the morning around the campfire, sharing our grief and our passion for writing. By The way, Candy just published her first hub. http://hubpages.com/hub/In-Other-Words I really love Candy because her husband, Jim, works for a winery! Terrible terrible terrible! Candy is a physical therapist by profession, and a writer and an editor. So she has that capacity to really touch people. And she has been therapy to my heart in recent weeks both on Facebook and in person.
My sister Marilyn tolerates me sometimes giving her the crumbs. Terrible on my part. She was an enormous part of my growing up years between the ages of zero to eight. Then she ran away to a nunnery, of all things! But she showed up in my life again when I was twenty three and needing a place to live. She arranged for me to live next door to her in the priest’s house!!
I can’t forget my brother in law, Scott, who has probably never forgiven me for tricking him into thinking that the local sheriff had mistaken his van for the van the SLA used to kidnap Patty Hearst! Scott and I have laughed over more crazy sh-t than anyone else on the face of the planet, including the Dalai Lama. As difficult as it might be for Scott to say "I love you," he tells me that he loves me.
I have another friend Dan, who continues to love me even though my contact with him is sparse and sometimes separated by YEARS.
I cannot tell you how many times in the past year, both men and women, in the process of their own journies to discover what it is to love and be loved, have challenged me to see how lovable I am. It's almost like they rubbed my nose in it! Making it possible then for me to let them see that I can love them as well. Any fondness, for men or women, I have gone way out of my way to keep hidden or unspoken, a way of being which I thought best, safe, and proper, not ever realizing that those boundaries can also create a confusing "veil" of nuttiness of which the other person can make absolutely no sense or worse conclude that they are not lovable..
There is Andrew who offered me a place to live, Bob, who is going to help me fix the flat tire on my stranded car later today. My wife, Dianna, who has challenged me to go where I thought I could never go. There is Sandy, a wonderful new therapist who was intuitive enough to pick up on something I said about everyone cancelling one day last week, and she proceeded to hand me forty dollars. So do I just go around accepting handouts from people? I suppose if I did what was proper, I might see it as a handout and refuse the money, rather than recognizing that it''s really not money she is offering me. But an opportunity to let someone love me and then opening up myself to loving them IN PERSON rather than from behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz.
I saw a colleague in the post office yesterday that I hadn’t seen in over a year. I didn’t think anything of opening up my arms and giving her a hug. I wouldn’t have done that two months ago.
I wouldn't say it is easy, but it is one thing to finally accept the love of my sisters or long-time friends or colleagues and to conclude from that I AM lovable, and to feel free to express my love in return.
But when someone comes
along, someone you are not looking for, sometimes called a soul mate,
and you know who you are, and you see in their eyes and face an unmistable divine love for you, it is an even bigger experience, a wake-up call kind of experience. This is
serious business. This is not to be sluffed away, chalked up as some
kind of dizzy, mush. I am loved by God in stranger's guise as
the Albert Burt Christmas Carol sings. And this person tells me they
have been searching for me their entire life. And I know they are not
dangerous, insane, nor a stalker. Whoa, it is serious business. To love and be loved really is a calling
and a mandate and one to take very seriously. It's going back to the beginning when God held us in the palm of his hand and called us by name eons before we were even a speck..
What is happening to me? If I am falling in love, I am in trouble. Too many people to fall in love with. And if I am falling in love, falling out of love is right around the corner. So what is it? Maybe it is just simply experiencing both loving and being loved perhaps for the first time in my life. The emphasis is on the experiencing, because many of these people have loved me for a very long time and I have also loved them, but I’ve never let it be known and I’ve always kept their love for me on the porch of my soul, sort of the place my alcoholic Uncle had in our family.
I think this is a good place to end for now. I hope my exploration will nudge you to explore. Who are the people you love? Do they even have a clue? Who are the people who love you and do you let them in?
I hope that you’ re beginning to recognize that falling in and out of love is not love at all. Love is an experience that is so much more grounded than falling in and out of. It is so very very precious and I am humbly grateful for all the people, who have allowed me to walk with them and who are now encouraging me or demanding me to follow my own map.
And remember those first eighteen years. Take a look for yourself. See the connection for every time you have fallen in love and then out of love, see the connection between those experiences and the wounds you incurred in those first eighteen years. It's not a blame game. It's simply about recognition, awareness, and then healing. I don't know if it takes sixty five years or if it has to take sixty five years. I tend to think NOT. Just because it did for me, doesn't mean there's not a quicker path to healing and loving and being loved.
Don't forget to vote in the poll at the end of the blog.
THANKS FOR READING
SAYTH THE LORD,
A Poem by David Bradley
Loves patience will suffer long into time