What Love Isn't

Maybe the only lesson that life has taught me is the importance of letting go of the things that hurt. Life, however doesn't offer anything like a short course in how, or more significantly how to identify those things that hurt before they start to hurt.

My ex hurt. So much of her identity was wrapped up in that hurt, in the same way that so many of the women I've known have defined their successes in life in relationship to the things they believed they were powerless to control. Sometimes I think that the social function of being a woman, as distinct from being a man, necessarily involves absorbing and then brokering harm rather than repressing, avoiding and eliminating it. I can't otherwise conveive of a reason for so much encouragemnent, affirmation and acceptance of the unacceptable in the lives of women who've sometimes shared my own life.

Loving someone truly can be the ultimate anaesthetic, it mutes the pain of separation from the familiar, it gives a person freedom to consider a different life, to reconsider old relationships and discard attachments to old baggage. It trivializes hurt. When two people once full of hurt are suddenly full of love instead, it gives them superpowers over their lives, making them vulnerable only to each other.

A transcendent love that fails the test of reality might give a person vision. It might motivate a person to torture a metaphor and perform massive, invasive surgery, carefully evaluating and severing every link to the elements and persons responsible for the harm that came before it. A failure in love might send a person directly back into the circumstances of harm that once made love so unlikely, and that failure might represent the most precious gift imaginable, a newfound unwillingness to tolerate those same circumstances ever again.

My ex was unhappy. It was obvious to me that the way she behaved should hurt her, nobody could deliberately design a more perfect engine of tolerable sustained self harm than my ex and the people in her life. Other than the people who shared my life before her, and no longer do. Maybe the difference in our acceptance of harm was that mine was tacit and blind, hers was willing and active. She's seen fewer consequences in life. I truly hope that she sees only emough consequences to finally wisen her.

Loving her showed me very clearly all of the many things that love isn't. I have many fewer, much better friends now. I've said goodbye to my pathological, abusive, and self-harming family members. And I'm no more alone and much less lonely than I've ever been, not unhappy, not blissful, somewhat optimistic. And she might always be as wrong for me as she was when I loved her, but I will always quetly love her first for the simple gift of sight that allowed me to change my life entirely, not gloriously, not gracefully, but simply for the better.

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