Love me, love me, say that you love me

26 09 2010

Love isn’t really my thing.

I don’t have anything against it, and it’s not that I don’t believe that it exists (whatever that means), but love and I don’t have much to do with each other.

I’m thinking about this because I referred to love in the comments to my last post, asking if someone were told that her belief was hated but that she was loved, would she, in fact, feel loved?

It was not so much the definition of love I was after so much as the question of being, but, nonetheless, it felt a bit. . . odd to use the term.

People have told me they loved me. My parents. My friend M. (who knows how it discomfits me). And I would guess that at least some of my friends would say, if not to me then at least about me, that they love me.

I don’t disbelieve them: if they say they love me, then okay. But I don’t feel it.

And I don’t feel badly about it. A little bad, insofar as I don’t say it back—this is one lie I can’t quite manage—but I don’t feel this great gaping and gasping pain of the absence of it in my life. Perhaps I can say that I feel the absence, but it is simply absence, something I register, and nothing more.

Have I ever felt love? I don’t know. I remember as a child telling my parents I loved them, and I think I would have said that I loved people (I certainly loved my pets) and meant it, but I also remember feeling that there was something obligatory in the saying: It was always tied, always. . . crimped or stapled into some line of duty.

I don’t remember it ever having been—although it must have been, once, it must have been—free.

And because it wasn’t free, because there was always that stitch in the side of any profession of love, it felt like a lie, a compulsion in order to reassure those around me that. . . oh, christ, I don’t know what. That I belonged? I can’t remember this, either, can’t remember why I felt guilty for saying it, only that I did, that I questioned whether I meant it.

This isn’t about conditional versus unconditional love: conditional doesn’t equal coerced. But I did feel compelled, for whatever reason, felt that there were certain things I must feel about certain people, and that I had to rank these people in a particular order—family before friends, parents before all others—and that to break ranks was a kind of betrayal.

And I betrayed.

Again, I don’t know where these feelings came from. Parents are the usual suspects, but they did (do) love us, and they did (do) try to be good parents. Perhaps it was a matter of their uncertainties and my sensitivities colliding in a way no one intended, but leaving us all damaged, nonetheless.

Damaged, hm. No, I’m not pained, but I do recognize that this absence is, indeed, an absence. And I wonder what its presence is like, and whether I, so long used to living without it, could even ever know what love is.

I don’t know what I’m missing, which makes me wonder what I’m missing.


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3 responses

27 09 2010
dmf

we are in the grips of all kinds of orientations that we don’t as much choose as experience, pushes and pulls to be weathered and worn. never could get my mind around the idea of what it would mean to love on Command, which is part of the appeal of caputo’s weak god of love/conscience. yes aspects of surrender and submission but often not without related gains in ability/possibility that we sometimes call freedom (is anything human unconditional?) love’s absence is a kind of presence, if one allows for being haunted by what hasn’t happened and might not. thatgrlb has been wrestling some such angels recently in her determined/witty way and she is right that we can respond to such challenges in ways which enhance our depth of experience, even quality of life, as freud spoke of “sublimation” which is akin to the sublime. do you make a place in your life for such encounters/events to get a hold of you, to make contact?
http://www.janushead.org/8-2/lingis.pdf

27 09 2010
absurdbeats

I guess I could accept absence as presence in the sense of knowing something is missing, i.e., that I’m aware of this space.

And that’s not nothing, but the presence of absence seems of a different kind that a presence of itself (even allowing for the usual missings and hiccups in a presence), such that experience of each kind reveals not simply something different on the practical level (eating ice cream versus drinking wine) but ontologically so. Furthermore, I would guess—not really knowing—that the experience of lost love (the absence of what had been) is also ontologically distinct from never-love.

Words words words. The attempt to fuzz the boundaries leads ineluctably to chasms.

As for what I leave myself open to: not much. But I am trying, some days harder than others.

28 09 2010
dmf

To think is not to get out of the cave; it is not to replace the uncertainty of shadows by the clear-cut
outlines of things themselves, the flame’s flickering glow by the light of the true sun. To think is to
enter the Labyrinth; more exactly, it is to make be and appear a Labyrinth when we might have stayed
“lying among the flowers, facing the sky.” It is to lose oneself amidst galleries which exist only because
we never tire of digging them; to turn round and round at the end of a cul-de-sac whose entrance has
been shut off behind us—until, inexplicably, this spinning round opens up in the surrounding walls
cracks which offer passage.
Cornelius Castoriadis, Crossroads in the Labyrinth (1978)

yes indeed many shades of difference, and if they were only words than one could get stuck in the flyjar but i think that these are differences that make a difference, re-presenting aspects of experience if you will. you are a phenomenologist at heart i think and the mind abhors a vacuum.
to tie in with some earlier threads i believe that arendt once said that if one does not feel pained/outraged by the manifestations of poverty than one is not really seeing poverty, a symptom of an impoverished soul. and now i have that song stuck in my head for another day now…

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