Thursday, June 30, 2016
A ramble on love
We all deserved parents who loved us. But do we deserve a spouse who loves us?
I think this is an interesting question that contains feelings from childhood and adulthood, and bitter and sweet feelings of the child in the adult. It makes us look at “What is ‘deserve’?” Of course a baby who is here deserves to live as a whole person, and that requires love. But how can an adult deserve something that’s a matter of chance, bent antennae, and the unconscious? Yet how can it be right for him or her to be unloved?
There are those decent people who, growing up, had to lose their sensitivity to love because to need something that was not there would be to starve to death. The “irony” is that you can love these people and they cannot feel it, they cannot really know you love them. Where is the “deserve” in that scene?
Freud seemed to think that everything in human life reduced to sex. What if, instead, everything reduces to love? What if nothing is right without it; nothing, even the good things, is complete? If you’ve been without love for years, or forever, will you look at the most placid mountain lake or hear a Chopin Nocturne in the same way? Friendship without it is – less. A career without it is – money or ego, lesser things. Curiosity without it must have a short shelf life. Religion without it is neurotic, often murderous.
Then see how much love is missing in the world. Or maybe it’s always been very thinned out in the wide atmosphere of the world, throughout history. Whose fault is that? In therapy sessions, I’ll sometimes say “Blame God or nature” that childhood emotional injuries do not heal without help, they remain, despite our growing up. Blame God or nature for the great craters of lovelessness in the human drama.
Here I’ll propose a test. If you think you’ve had good enough* love in your life, particularly in your growing years, check your moods and attitudes in a number of situations. Are you angered by small things, like a slowly reloading computer screen or the woman in the car ahead who pauses three seconds after the light turns green? Despite a good day at work or at home with your wife or husband, may you feel some deflation? Is there the eternal missing in your life, a question mark, though you don’t know its identity? Do you generalize people – “Even the best Muslims are probably terrorist sympathizers”? Can you be hateful toward people sometimes, even though you have a dedicated and good marriage? Can you have a spasm of deep rage within a calm or happy moment? Are your moods a bit too oceanic, undulating dark and light without a clear factor, frothy then thick? These are all signs of a deep wound, long before the present. It’s a wound of the failure of love, and it will always deplete everything because love is the sole blueprint, the one “on switch,” of our life.
Good news is that there are things that can be done to improve love.
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* Referring to D. W. Winnicott's seminal concept of the "good enough mother."