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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And the sun would glint/On a time well spent/On a time that ain’t no more

10 05 2009

The tears no longer fall, but they do hover, expectant.

I’m trying to rush through my grief, away from the bewilderment of loss and the abashedness I feel at the grief itself.

It’s not that she was ‘just a cat’, nor do I try to compare her death to that of a human being. It doesn’t matter. The loss of a cat or a dog matters, on its own, just as the cat or the dog or whatever animal mattered, on its own, when he or she lived.

That’s what I tell myself, at least. But there’s still a part of me that says, Pssshh, don’t make too much of this. Don’t make this more than it is.

That’s what I do: I make too much of things, then tamp it all down, way down.

Perhaps this explains my reverence for balance: I have never learned, truly, how to balance, other than by going too far one way, then too far the other, then wondering just what the hell I’m supposed to do with the detritus of such a whipsaw.

Ignore it, forget it, walk away. Mention it to no one, until, perhaps, some point in the future when time has successfully exhausted the emotion.

A revision, perhaps: That’s what I used to do, what I still sometimes do. I’m trying to learn, at the fulcrum of my life, how to find a balance for the second half of my life which was absent in the first half.

So I am trying to come to terms with what it means to grieve a pet. It is both a small matter and a large one: Chelsea was a cat, and she was with me for almost all of my adult life.

And she let me know it: Chelsea was loud. She brayed at me when she was hungry, made pigeon sounds when startled, chattered away as I walked down hallways or got dressed, yipped when surveilling squirrels, hissed when FatCat batted her tail, yowled at thunder, groaned as she settled into my lap, and purred like a geiger counter gone nuclear.

(I had named her Chelsea because, while I was a big Janis Joplin fan, I didn’t want to be so gauche as to actually name her either Janis or Joplin. Instead, I name her for one of my favorite shots of Janis, decked out in her feathers in front of the Chelsea Hotel. Had I known she would end up sounding like her. . . .)

Part of the reason I got FatCat was due to Chelsea’s incessant noise: she was driving my then-roommate P. and me crazy with her constant talk. Of course, that backfired on me when she taught FatCat to talk, and I ended up with two cats yelling at me.

FatCat still talks, but she’s not the pundit Chelsea was—a kitty who comments on every move every member of the household makes.

So, this week, I miss the sound of her. If grieving is recognizing absence, then perhaps the resolution of such grief is in remembering the presence. Perhaps this is the only balance to be found in loss.

I am trying to let the balance come, but all that answers the summons are the tears.

But maybe balance cannot be summoned, that I can only let it come, that I can only recognize it when it does come. And even then, it might still come with tears.