February 24, 2008

What Is Love?

I never much enjoyed Valentine's Day. Back in elementary school, I used to give a valentine to everyone in my class, and I received very few back; proof that I wasn't loved. My father would give my mother a large box of chocolates, and a much smaller box to me; proof that he loved her more. When I complained about this, he started getting me a large one too, but that didn't count because I had to ask for it. If he loved me, he would have known. (Besides, he ate most of it.)

Our first Valentine's Day together, my first serious boyfriend gave me a valentine card that was basically a dirty joke. So much for love, I thought.

This year, I received some very sweet valentines (mostly from married friends of both sexes), one naughty one (this time I laughed)...and the most beautiful and tasteful (and very purple, therefore very Carolish) small bouquet of flowers I have ever received from a dear friend who perhaps wants us to become something more, and I don't know that for certain, and it was hard to be gracious about it because I don't know if I want us to be something more, yet I don't want to eliminate this possibility either. Sigh.

"Personalities don't love, they want something." —Byron Katie.


I can see where my personality wants something, always. More accurately, it wants plenty, and it gets depressed when it doesn't get what it thinks it wants.

Mostly, cartoon-character Carol thinks she wants love, and she wants it on her own terms, which are subject to change without notice, and side effects may occur.

So what is love? It can't be what I think it is when I believe I don't have it, because those thoughts do not bring me joy.

In the past, love has meant, "If you loved me you would ____ ." That didn't work.

It has meant, "I need you, I can't be happy without you." Ew.

It has meant, "If you loved me, you wouldn't be so critical of me." Seeing through this lie has been one of the most enlightening realizations of my life.

I don't know much, but here's what I know about love so far.

Love has a life of its own. I'm no good at hating, and I can't help loving. I can try and try to resist love, but it will have its way with me. I can try to write people off, but I can't do it; it's like trying to stop myself from breathing. I tried to write off my mother, my best friend from high school, my exes, my former guru. I can't do it.

That friend who gave me the purple flowers? I've done everything I can think of to discourage him and push him away, and when I don't see him for awhile, I see his face in my mind's eye, and I smile.

I've come to see that love is none of my business.

Love is honest. Last week I listened to six peoples' Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheets about me, and facilitated two of them. The week before, a friend called to say, "You think you are better than I am." I experienced their words as love letters...especially since these friends were brave enough to come to me with their thoughts. I just wept, hearing their hearts. I felt merged with them as one feels with a lover.

By the way, this is how I know The Work works; the same judgments seven years ago would have left me in a morass of hatred and self-hatred. The tears would have come out of pain, and I would have shot back zingers and/or never spoken to these people again.

Love says,
"Carol, you're too fat. Your glasses and hair are all wrong."

I understand; that's so often what I see in the mirror. You must really care about me to want me to look better. Any suggestions?

Love says,
"Carol, I need you to show me your true self."

Thank you. I want to give you that as well...fearlessly. I'm not able to yet, and I'm working on it.

Love says,
"Carol, you want to destroy me."

Oh, yes. I've been there, out of irritation, out of a desire for control, out of competition...in short, out of fear. Thank you for pointing this out to me. It helps me to see that it's not personal, and to realize how much I really do love you.

Love says,
"Carol, you think you are better than I am."

Yes, I have thought so, and that hurts. Thank you for helping me to see where that belief comes from, so that I can stop hurting myself.

It just doesn't get more intimate than this.

What can you say that I haven't thought, that I haven't been? Where do I defend? Thank you for the loving gift of clarity in your criticism.

Love is a murderer.
If Love wanted to call me home, to consume me, wouldn't it come fiercely, an irresistible force that completely unravels me?

Bring it on.



©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

1 comment:

Jon Willis said...

Hey Carol,

Great post - just want to share my experience of Valentine's Day this year - it was great!

For the first time in many years, no wife or girlfriend, no-one that I 'had to' get something for (and yeah, I never had to anyway...).

Had ideas to do something for myself, be my own Valentine, etc and I can't remember doing anything specific, except just having a good day.

With love, Jon x