What is love? Oh please tell me, what is love?
Is it but a word? Is it but an ideal from the realm of fairytales? Where should I seek this thing you call love? How should I obtain this idea so prized by all of humanity?
Please Won’t You Tell Me, What is Love?
When I was little, my mother told me she loved me. And so love is what a my other had for me. But how does that help me?
How should I know what love is without being a mother?
When I was small, I liked watching television. I saw the little mermaid fall in love with the handsome prince, and the prince fall in love with the beautiful mermaid. He loved her voice, he loved her smile, he loved her eyes. She loved his strength, she loved his valiance, she loved his stature.
And so love became something we have for the valiant and for the beautiful, for those qualities which are deemed desirable in fairytales. Love is desire - desire for beauty, and for the possession of beauty.
Once I got a little older, they told me to say I love you. They told me to say it to my mom, to my granddad, and to my little cousin. They told me I had to say it even though I wasn’t their mother and I didn’t really find them beautiful or strong or valiant. They told me I had to, otherwise they would feel bad - and I didn’t want to make them feel bad - I didn’t want to be a bad person.
I wanted them to like me, I wanted to be good - and so I told them I loved them. I felt a little bit bad and a little ashamed, but I guess that was better than not being liked.
I grew up some more and I felt like I started having sexual desires. And then I looked at society and how it said that to have sex you have to be married and being married means promising to love someone forever and never having sex with anyone else. And if you really love a person, then you won’t even want to have sex with anyone else.
And so love became somehow the same as sexual desire, and true love as a promise of never allowing feelings or desire for anyone other than this one person to ever exist.
But as I grew up some more, I started realizing that having sexual desires for only one person wasn’t really something I could do. I tried hard and hard, and every time the desires came back I reminded myself how ashamed I should feel and how much of a terrible sex-obsessed patriarchal model of female oppression I was. Through shame I repressed my sexuality. When the shame was too much to handle I buried myself into patterns of avoidance: addictions and self-loathing. And anger, a lot of anger: I was such a bad person incapable of this thing they called love. Why couldn’t I love? Why didn’t others love me? I started projecting my sexual frustration as resentment towards women.
Is this what love should be - pain and self-loathing? Does loving someone have to mean hating myself? Does loving someone have to be so desperately agonizing? Does it have to be so inherently tied to and inseparable from biological sexual needs?
Please Tell Me, What Have I Done Wrong?
I started life by defining what my mother and father were as pure love. Whatever they did, however it hurt, had to be love - for what else should it be? I tried hard and hard to trust that everything they ever did towards me and towards each other was ultimately loving. Whatever they did and said, I came to label that as love.
When I set out in the world, I behaved towards that world in the same way that my parents behaved at home. I blindly trusted that this was loving in action, that this was how the world was to be made better. I criticized those people I thought I loved - I told them what was wrong with them and how they ought to live their lives. I did that because that’s what I thought love was.
I placed myself in situations where I could be pitied, and I reveled in the pity. I made myself look poor and weak in order to be rescued and taken care of. I wanted to be loved and that’s how I was taught love was to be gained. And when that failed, I simply blamed those around me for not being loving enough - for failing to respond to my needs and for being so selfish in forgetting the commitment they had towards me for sake of me deciding they ought to love me. I needed them to love me - how dare they not love me enough? They really ought to be ashamed, just as I am and ever was for failing to understand just how important a duty it is to love each other.
I repressed and held my sexuality back for many many years. I felt completely ashamed by the disrespect I felt in having sexual desires without a feeling of love or a genuine intention to commit to someone for the rest of my life. Proper gentlemen don’t look at girls as sex objects, they have to look their eyes and tell them how beautiful they are and take them on nice respectful platonic dates. Sex has to be repressed, women are not meat. And so whenever I looked at a girl and felt arousal I shamed myself into isolation and merely reverted to porn - because real women were simply too good for my sex obsessed teenage mind. At least, the women on the screen wouldn’t push more shame onto me.
When I couldn’t hold myself back anymore, I simply went along with the game - assuming it might all make sense once I actually surrendered to it. And so I had sex, and I committed, and I went along with everything I was ever told it meant to love someone…
I wanted to be loved, and so I turned my lover into my mother.
I wanted to know what love was, and so I turned myself into her father.
I manipulated her into the ideal of beauty I envisaged, all for the sake of loving her more. How could more love not be exactly what she wanted? How could she not want to be my fantasy for the sake of my love? Within the guise of monogamy, are we not meant to be anything and everything for each other - ever after?
I told her I loved her, and I accepted her words as she returned the compliment. The words, to-or-fro, didn’t really mean anything to me - but hopefully one day they would. The words felt empty at first - solemn and ritualistic, a duty to be carried with blind faith. This emptiness didn’t last, however - for slowly the words became filled with resentment, the expectations of a love unfulfilled: a need for validation, a hope and desire for something fundamental yet which never came. How could she not give me the love I so desperately needed and which was, as my wife, her solemn and holy duty? For I could not feel love in her words and actions - not the love I wanted anyway, not the fulfillment of this inner void and despair which I so desperately needed someone to come and replace with warm fuzzy feeling in rescuing me from the emptiness that was my life full of shame and devoid of love.
As the hopes of love dove into the downward spiral of mutual hate and self-pity, the roots of narcissistic abuse took hold into the foundations of our poisoned relationship. Codependency, the ultimate symptom of a love forever pursued yet unfulfilled, was the sour nourishment for this angry inner child in its everlasting quest for the simplicity of caring solace.
Everything I Did, I Did in the Name of Love
I had become my mother, I had become my father.
In my quest for love, I had emulated everything I believed was supposed to lead me to love - to being loving as well as being loved. Through my parents’ empty words in proclaiming their love for either me or for each other, I learned only that love was meaningless and full of poison - yet at the time I was misled into seeing the poison as the elixir of life, and the meaninglessness as my childish naiveté in not yet understanding what the world really was about.
I went along for the ride, I played the game: I believed. I believed is their truth - as for sake of their truth conflicting with my naive childish outlook on life, how could I but dismiss my infantile innocence for sake of their greater adult wisdom?
Yet with the hindsight of spiritual freedom, I see clearly that it is only children who know the true meaning of love. They know this for they do not yet know what unlove is. Love is not something to be known or understood - it belongs to a domain outside the boundaries of rational understanding. Only unlove thrives within reason, only unlove can be learned and grasped and pursued.
Only unlove can be the object of any action.
Love cannot be pursued, it can only be embraced - for it is already here, it is already within, and it need only be accepted and allowed to flow as blood within our veins. A poisoned heart will flow blood but will not flow love - and without love, what are we but an empty shell, alive in name only?
This thing they call love, this word or concept or idea promoted by Disney and Hollywood and fairytales and religion… that is not love but unlove.
Love is not a name. Love is not an idea. Love is not a concept. Love is not to be understood or rationalized or dictated or taught.
Love is to be experienced with the naiveté and curiosity of a newborn. Love is merely absence - the void of an empty soul - for it is the primordial truth of existence, the blueprint of our being.
Love is the essence of allowance into everything that is - and I say is in the sense of a state of existing through the tangible here and now, the present experience that thrives beyond the duality of spiritual and material, of right and wrong, of true and false. The only truth known to the reality of this universe, as opposed to the illusions of the mind, is that which transcends everything and anything that can exist in the mind - for only what does not exist in the mind truly exists in the reality of experience.
Only once the mind is free from concepts, judgments, expectations, needs, and desires can the absolute nature of love come to blossom. That love, as an experience rather than an idea, is the only truth to be found in this universe.