Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lo que encontre... se que es larguito..pero worth it...

We all believe we know what love is, or at least feels like. We feel it, we fall into it, we have it taken away - and hurt like hell when that happens - and we hear about it constantly every day of our lives.
So many books have been written on the topic, and so many different shades of explanations, that I am sometimes left more confused after reading some of them, than more enlightened by their insight. Sometimes, but not always.
The problem that each of us seem to face throughout our lives is finding out how to get it, and keep its magic in our lives in as many ways as possible. Take it away, and the rage and pain that comes from the loss wreaks terrible havoc at its worst. Trying to find out what love really is, and how to make it work in my life, has been - and continues to be - one of the main struggles of my life. And probably for many others. I am a long way from getting the full understanding I desire so much, but what I have found has enriched my life immeasurably. And I hope has enriched others as well. Here is what I believe form my journey so far.

I Am Not in Love With My Wife

This statement may come as a shock to many people. "How can you not be in love with your wife, and stay married to her?" For me to make such a statement, I likely seem like a hypocrite, and slime of the worst sort to some people. I do love my wife, deeply, but there is a difference to me between loving, and being in love. I love her because she deserves to be loved, simply because she exists. If my love falls short in any way, it is not because of anything she is, or does - it falls short because my ability to love ANYONE falls short of what it could be. When I hear couples talking about falling out of love, and ending a relationship as a result, I see a deep loss - not because they have failed to meet each others' inner expectations, but we have all been exposed to the lie that whether we love someone depends on what they do or don't do, or who they are. This belief, whether we acknowledge it our not, shortchanges us. We are missing out on the true richness of love. We are chasing a mirage.
I don't need my wife. My choice is a free one; I choose to spend and share my life with her, because it is a loving choice for both of us. We support each other's efforts to learn how to love more fully. This includes learning to accept each other and ourselves more fully for who we are; sharing the insights we gain each day; sharing our laughter, sadness, pain, joy, quiet moments, and other experiences and feelings. We do all this far from perfectly, but we both realize that our growth and happiness depends on OUR individual choices, not from what choices our partner makes. We show love when we give each other the freedom and encouragement to make our own mistakes, to discover our own strengths, and to find out who we really are - and want to be - inside. No other woman in the world knows me better than my wife; she has a 18 year head start on anyone else. And if I ever made the choice to start a relationship with another woman I
felt I could be happier with, I would be deceiving myself. My happiness is no one else's
responsibility except my own. By giving control of my happiness to anyone else, even partially, I also give them the ability to take it away in the future. For me, such illusions no longer hold any attraction. There is a saying that whatever we give to another person, we also give to ourself. It is in learning to accept and love my wife as a whole, yet imperfect human being that I learn to accept and love myself as a whole, yet imperfect human being. I no longer try to solve her problems with the passion that I used to; as a result, she is discovering the inner strength she always had, but had little faith in, to handle difficult choices. In the process, I've discovered that - while I was trying to solve problems for her - I was making a total mess of many areas of my life. In working on myself, I have lessened considerable the ADDITIONAL problems I was placing on her shoulders because of my choices.
Loving someone doesn't mean allowing their actions to hurt you. In fact, love DEMANDS that
we make choices that minimizes, or prevents unnecessary pain to ourselves, and others. I
believe in the philosophy that if I hurt someone, I hurt myself; conversely, if someone hurts me, they also hurt themselves. In loving my wife, I do not want to contribute, or be a part of unnecessary hurt to her. In standing up and making healthy choices when her actions hurt, or may hurt me, I put that part of love into action. In other words, I do my best to ensure that her actions don't hurt her as well as me. Making such choices is not easy. When I experience hurt because of her actions, it is extremely important to me to separate actions that clearly hurt me, and actions that uncover old hurt that I need to deal with. If she fails to get me the birthday present I was hoping for, for example, it is my EXPECTATIONS, not her actions that are at the source of the hurt I feel. It is old unmet needs inside that I must face, because if I don't, they will come back and hurt me over and over again, whether with her, or anyone else. If however she lies about something important to both of us in the relationship, and violates the trust I have given her, the most loving thing I can do is allow her to face the consequences of her actions. In doing so, I have expressed my anger, and made difficult choices that involved withdrawing my trust, and preventing any further lies from causing continuing hurt. Once again, I must re-emphasize, that I believe that even when a partner does something to hurt us, withdrawing our love is the worst thing we could do. When our choices are based on loving principles, we give ourself and our partner the best possible chance of facing the natural consequences of our decisions, learning valuable lessons from those, and making the profound and difficult changes that we need to in order to stop short-changing ourselves so much.
It is my firm belief that these principles have made a crucial difference in our relationship. We have each made choices that caused each other tremendous pain, and we each had plenty of justification to wish each other the worst fate that could befall scum. It is a miracle that someone we discovered enough about how to love better, and how to make the choices we needed to get out of the quicksand, before our relationship self-destructed.

The Passion of Love
Someone once asked me "can you have passion without feeling love, and can you have love without feeling passion?" I believe the answer to this is a qualified yes, but only because of the way the question is phrased. If the question is about love and passion for people, then it is my firm conviction that passion and love are inseparable. We can, however, block our feelings of passion and love - and probably often do, because allowing ourselves to feel either precludes us from putting up emotional walls. We simply can't feel passion or love, if we don't allow them to flow outward. Why do we put up walls? Because we're afraid - of getting hurt, of having such powerful feelings used against us. If we hold those feelings inside like an emotional dam, and
suddenly release them all at once, we get caught up in a swirling flood of feelings, and have a very difficult time sorting out the messages inside that help keep us safe from the wash of emotions we want to bathe in. Love IS passionate. It flows outward with passion, whether we feel that passion or not. When we don't feel that passion, it is likely because we are loving the best we can, but holding significantly back on our full capacity to love, out of self-preservation.
It is no wonder then that we often feel the greatest amount of love with those we feel safest with, such as babies, small children, those dying, or extremely ill. But if a stranger gives you a hug, although you may make a very loving choice by giving them a hug back, inside the walls are screaming, because you have no idea whether the stranger cares about hurting you, or loving you. And each of us has our own horror stories, some worse than the others. Yet, when we look at the lives and actions of people that somehow found a love that was all encompassing, no matter what the circumstances, we see great passion in their love - constantly. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, Mother Theresa, and many many more. The case may be made that passionate love cost many their lives, but if humanity is to survive, holding back our love because of this fear is the surest way to condemn us all. Passionate love isn't the danger - it's the lack of it that threatens each and every one of us.

Falling In and Out of Love, and the Pain of Love
Earlier I wrote about "not being in love" with my wife; more, not doing "in love" any more, because for me, it denotes dependency and control, which are poison to true love. However, it still mystified me why being "in love" felt so loving, so powerful, and so much like what I consider is true love. Many psychologists speak of "in love" feelings as "attachment" feelings - sort of like artificial sweeteners taste much like real sugar. I think there is truth to this, but I
also believe that maybe it misses the possibility that "in love" contains a large chunk of real love.
I believe that when we fall in love, more happens than just a collapse of our ego boundaries, as some books note. When I take a look at the feelings of acceptance, caring, compassion, passion, and everything else that happens when we fall" in love", I think that we are actually experiencing real love in all its glory, no matter how transient that state is. So what goes so sour? It is my firm belief that one of love's main powers, and one of its main goals, is to counter evil, and help us heal from past hurt and evil that's been thrust upon us. We cry at weddings, not because we're unhappy, but because love is doing the work it wants to passionately - freeing us of old pain. Pain cannot be "thought" away; for whatever reason our creator made us this way, the only way to heal, is to feel. Pain must be felt fully to be released; but when released, it is replaced with love. And in the process, we become more whole, more alive, more who we are, uniquely. We are left with a paradox. In fairy tale love, we live happily ever after, as if our old
pain just magically disappears. I reality however, things turn out much differently. Love tries to heal us of pain, simply, because old pain is like old shit. The longer we allow it to fester inside, the more it stinks up our life, and those close to us. A man who beats his wife doesn't do it out of love - he is driven, in large part, in his desperation at trying to numb his pain. by obtaining a false sense of power. If he feels powerful enough (and gets that feeling by releasing pent-up rage on a close victim), then he can use that power to subjugate his own pain, however briefly. The pent-up rage is like methane from a pile of shit - explosive, and volatile. But because the actual shit is never dragged out and released, each time the methane just builds up, again and again,
explosion after explosion. The destruction is usually progressive - both for the victim(s) and perpetrator. So as love starts to do its work in a new relationship, many partners confusing find that they are feeling more and more pain, or having to struggle more and more to subdue it. And
that pain continues its deceit - leading us to believe that we are having these awful feelings of anxiety, hurt and frustration because he forgot a birthday card, or she was too tired to have sex when he wanted, and so on, and so on. I know many of the blame lines. intimately. Instead of our relationship bringing us greater happiness, we find that there seems to be so many hidden pricetags, and the walls start forming. We can't believe the person that we were once so overjoyed with, has suddenly shut us off from a part of them, or is doing things that we feel show a real disregard for our feelings. Eventually, many of us fall "out of love"; the passion is gone, and the pain simply isn't worth it anymore. We end the relationship, or are unceremoniously dumped from it, and the pain of rejection - of feeling unlovable - hits us like a ton of bricks. We feel like dying, and some actually end up dying from choices the pain leads us to. Or we stay in therelationship out of a sense of duty or obligation, or for the kids, or many other reason and try our best to get as much of a feeling of love while we can, often feeling that we've been short-changed, sometime dramatically. Our anger at losing out on life seeps through our lives, affecting our happiness, our kids, and others close to us. Often it leads to affairs, and the additional destruction those lead to. Somehow, love seems very, very screwed up, and something all of us wish had never been invented. It wasn't until I started taking responsibility for MY feelings, my old pain, through a combination of grace and luck, that I began to see how misled I had been by the fiction of what love was supposed to be and do. Whether my case is unique, or holds some universal truths, is not for me to decide for anyone else but myself. I hope the examples and results speak for themselves. I learned how to let love bring out my pain; I began to embrace the pain, to feel it, and to release it. I bashed beer bottles, screamed at God and the wind, wept bitterly at my dad's grave and down by the seashore. I wrote and wrote, putting down my anger and pain on paper, exposing it to light. I went to support meeting after support meeting, talked to those I felt were closer to the type of love I was searching for, went in therapy, and read every book on relationships, life, and love I could afford, or borrow. Somewhere in the midst of all my confusion, things began to change - imperceptibly at first, but with more and more force as time went on. As I began to blame my wife less and less for my sense of loneliness and loss, I found that I learned to truly love myself more - not only in feeling, but in the choices I made. Each step forward put me more in touch with a magical force inside me - call it intuition, gut feeling, inner voice, whatever - and I found that I could sense more and more whether someone was acting toward me in loving ways, or not - and make choices that were good for me. When love brings old pain to the surface now, I am less afraid of feeling it. It still hurts like hell at times, but that's ok. I know that leaving it inside will hurt me even more in the long run. Pain delayed is not pain avoided. And if my wife, or anyone else does something to add to the pain, I discover a part of me that is not protected by self- love yet. Those moments are a gift like any other. I find ways to deal with their choices that are as loving as possible for both of us. And I do all this imperfectly. Very imperfectly at times.And the passion is coming back. More than that, I am feeling passion at an intensity at times that I never felt before, ever. For life, for love, for my wife, and for others. I still get hurt, but get hurt much less easily, and less often. I can see that someone's ill treatment of me says more about them, than it does of me. Someone cannot be genuinely caring, and loving, and hurt someone else purposely. And when they do so, loving people make amends, and take the time to learn from their mistakes.
Maybe some of you are saying "yeah, right, looks good on paper - anything does". All I can
say is that, somehow, somewhere, I have found much of the love I have been looking for all
my life. And it is safer than at any time in my life that I tried to protect myself with emotional walls. Comments or choices from other people no longer trigger old pain the way they used to. There is a much safer place inside where I can walk calmly to, instead of fleeing in panic like I used to. I believe that love, as an ideal, is much more attainable by any of us than we ever dreamed. In my work as a wedding photographer, I have heard these words often. The first time I heard them, my reaction was something like a cynical "yeah, right". Each time I hear them now, however, I realize how true the words are, and how much closer we can get to their
simple, yet powerful message. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek it's own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; Does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.


Renny R. said...

Muy excelente eso que escribe ese señor. Thanks for posting it.

Fran said...

Está muy largo para traducirlo, este lo paso. :)