To Blave

Riddle me this: what is the difference between true love and indifference?  'Cause, you know, I'm not really sure anymore.

All my life, there have been certain people who could hurt me more than anyone else with the things that they said to or about me.  Or, rather, all my life, there have been certain people whom I allowed to hurt me more than anyone else because, or so I thought, I loved them.  Or, rather, all my life, there have been certain people whose opinion of me I valued so much that, regardless whether what they said had any bearing on reality, I believed because, after all, they loved me, which meant, surely, that they knew me better than anyone else and that, therefore, I could trust them to see me clearly and understand who I was and, therefore, how what I was was good or true or worthwhile.  Or lovable.

Which hurts (and has hurt).  A lot.  Because, as I have started to realize over these past several weeks of sitting with those uncomfortable feelings I keep talking about, quite frequently those people whose opinion I valued so much that I would do anything to try to please them up to and including mistrusting myself didn't know the f*ck what they were talking about.  That, or they were being just plain mean.  Or inept.  Or were so caught up in themselves and their own view of things that they couldn't step outside of it long enough to see where I might be coming from.  Or whatever.  The point is not the reason that they said or did what they did.  The point now, for me, is what it means if I don't let them have this effect on me anymore.  If, in other words, I cease to care or trust or value what they do or say as an accurate reflection of my worth.

The upside, I think, is that I wouldn't feel the need to be so jealous anymore.  Not if I knew that my worth as a human being was utterly independent of the way in which so-and-so behaved toward me.  So what if he or she says something hurtful?  It doesn't mean it is right.  Nor do I have to bend over backward to try to answer whatever has been said, to try to justify myself or explain.  Indeed, it's rather pleasant feeling so comfortably numb, indifferent, liberated from the demands of love.  Which can only be a good thing.  Which, if you think about it, is what true love is supposed to be, right?

We all know the list.  True love is--to paraphrase the Apostle (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)--"patient and kind, not envious or boastful, not self-seeking or easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs."  True love cannot be hurt by the things that other people say because it is not dependent upon other people's approval.  True love does not strive to please at all costs; it does not measure itself by how lovingly the other person responds.  True love will not be bothered if it is not understood; it does not care if it is teased or ignored.  True love does not need to be reciprocated; it does not need kind words or attention.  True love thinks only of the other person, his or her frailties and concerns.  True love is not grasping or jealous because true love does not measure itself by how it is received.

Um.  Right.  Except that that is not the way love generally feels.  Love hurts because it longs for the beloved.  Love dies unless it can gaze on the beloved face.  Love wants nothing more than to be in the presence of the beloved.  Love turns on the beloved's every glance.  "You have wounded my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace" (Song of Songs 4:9).  What is love if not allowing oneself to be wounded?  Which sucks if all you get is wounds.  So do you stick around, being wounded because that's what love does?  Or do you say to yourself, "I don't need to depend on this or that person to validate me"?  And then what?  How do you love without getting hurt?

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