Thursday, February 10, 2005

I Don't Trust Love

I HAD BEEN after enchanted romances all my life. I wanted to be lost in the magic of love, to melt in it, to disappear in it. I wanted to spend my time thinking about "the one" for hours on end, to transfer her into my world and keep her there, alive, to burn for her. To unite her existence with my own. And once was not enough. I don't know how many loves I lived in my mind, how many people I dreamed of loving, how many imaginary worlds I created with others, only to destroy them later on, and be left stranded among the ruins. The possibilities were endless. The mind conceives of as much as it can. The heart is never satisfied, it never says "please, don't love me anymore," but is always after more. Love knew no limits. One after the other, determining the colour of the world and the colour of my world.
The magic of being in love was so enticing. Love, romantic love was the biggest weapon against loneliness. It was the one branch I could catch hold of as I was falling down into a bottomless pit. The moment I was left alone was the moment life lost it's meaning. My feelings got hurt, the world came crashing down around me, there was no reason left to live. Like a drug that eased the pain, love was an ointment for the heartache. It was impossible to live without an incentive for living. And so love came to the rescue. One wanted someone to be there. Someone to whom we could say "you are in my dreams, you're the only one for me". This had to be someone who was the only one who could make our hearts pound, the only one who could arouse our excitement. I wanted to make them feel special. I wanted to say " you are the only one who can excite me, who can make me feel the way you do. What I feel for you is very special". And I wanted to hear the same reply. Someone who belonged to my world only. Saying these things changed my world. Life became easier, gained meaning, gained colour. You knew that now, she was thinking of you. You were on her mind. She was dependent on you. She thought you were important. You gave meaning to her life. The "emptiness" you felt inside disappeared. Your existence was acknowledged, recognised, valuable. At last, you existed.
When someone would tell me that they were in love, I would feel jealous. Jealous of the one in love and the one loved. I wanted to be the one who loved and the loved one. To me these people had conquered life. The path to nothingness had been blocked and emptiness was a problem no longer. They had found a branch to hold on to. As for me, I was like one groping around in vacuity.
I am no longer jealous of the lovers and the loved ones. This has nothing to do with my unrequited loves or to my being abandoned. It’s due to the hundreds of love stories I’ve heard first-hand. If love was enough in itself to bring happiness and peace to people, then the planet would be free of pain, heartache and distress. But I have seen the opposite happen. I have heard lovers tell of their love and the pain they have felt because of it. Hundreds of people have told me of how their love stories have ended in heartache. Love left pain in its wake. Something was not right somewhere.
I no longer trust love. I am no longer jealous of lovers and their loved ones. Loving, being loved, falling in love tired one. It even frightened one.
I used to think that falling in love meant loving another person. I thought that the heavy burden of life would disappear with loving, with being loved, with romance. But I now no longer trust love. Loving, being in love, falling in love and having someone fall in love with you, carried as heavy a load as life itself. Loving and being in love, falling in love and having someone fall in love with you, is a heavy weight placed upon our emotions.
For years I wore myself out with my efforts at loving and being loved. I didn’t recognise the problem within my own self. What could be wrong with love? It was only an innocent emotion I was in search of. And, anyway it was out of my hands. Loving and being loved couldn’t be wrong. But why did it carry such heartache with it? Why did it tire one so? Why couldn’t we always have what we want? Why weren’t innocent loves requited? Why, when love was reciprocated did it last the life-span of a soap bubble?. For years who knows how many times I experienced the same thing. Those who I wanted to love, didn’t love me, and those who loved me, I couldn’t love. I couldn’t understand them, or myself. But my faith in love continued still.
I felt my first disappointment in love on listening to love stories, told by lovers who had loved and then parted. As I listened to their tales of love I realised that these stories were my stories. In every word, in every sentence, in every emphasis, I saw the impasse of love. It was like they were talking in my place. This wasn’t their story, it was "our story". This wasn’t their impasse; it was "ours".
There was one question I couldn’t resist asking someone in love after they had lost their loved one. I would wait impatiently for them to tell their story. As soon as they had finished I would ask that crucial question: "What does it mean to you to be loved by that person" ? The replies to this question always managed to shock me. How could these words come out of a person’s mouth? How could a person say such things? How could a person fall to such depths? How could a person exalt another in such a manner? And how could I have done the same thing?
The replies would begin something like this: " She was my everything". " I can’t live without her. She was my only support in life. My life had meaning with her. I lost everything after losing her. I have nothing left in the world. I am all alone. I’m living in a deserted universe. You couldn’t really call it living actually. Because the meaning in my life has been taken away."
The replies were frightening. Whenever I hear these replies, the words float about in my mind; "my everything", "without him", "meaning". "She was my everything". A shocking expression. The load placed on another creature was too heavy a load for that being to bear. "I can’t live without him". Wasn’t this a lie? Did we come into being with "him"? Was "she" the one to bring us out of the darkness of non-existence into the world of the living? "My life has no meaning now" is a meaningless statement itself. How can someone who played no role in our creation be the meaning of our lives? These were the mistakes in love I had made all my life. People were not worthy of these statements. None of us can carry such a burden. Nothing can be our everything, nor can we be somebody else’s everything.
The replies given were my replies. For years I had lived without realising this. For years I had lived a lie. On saying "I love you", I had used my love and my loved one. Those who told they loved me were, in fact, using me and their love. The things we said to each other! The things we wrote! And we added things that we didn’t believe ourselves. We amplified what we felt. We tried to impress. And we wanted to be impressed ourselves. We tried to bind them to ourselves. We expected to be worshipped by them. We wanted them to tell us that they couldn’t live without us. We exploited love. In order to be admired, we told them how much we admired them. Lies! What we were really saying was, "please idolise me".
These were tainted loves. Because they were surrounded by lies. We elevated the ones we said we loved. Because there was the possibility that they would love us and elevate us in return. Thus we were trying to satisfy our need to be loved by an exalted being.
To be the meaning of someone’s life. "You’re the most important part of my life. You’re the one that binds me to life. Without you life has no meaning. You’re my everything." These words tickle our ego. We are flattered. We wanted to be worshipped. Like prostrating oneself before an idol, we wanted to be prostrated to. And it was at this point that we lied. We were using love when we said that we loved. No, this was something more like the desire to be adulated. How could we be someone’s reason for living, when we played no part in that person’s coming into being and for whom we have no role in the continuation of their life.
All my efforts and all our efforts carried the underlying message. "Make me feel valuable". " I valued her because of my need to be valued by her". I was never able to make this confession made by one of my patients. I continued to deceive and tell the "I love you" lie. Or I was trying to console myself and to console others with my "I value you" lie.
I had a patient once. He came to see me after his father had died. He told me how much he loved his father. He talked of his father’s importance in his life and of his pain. And then at one point in his speech, he spoke of his anger at his father. "Just when I needed him the most, he left me", he said. The pity I felt for him vanished. The deception in love reared it’s ugly head. There was "personal benefit" lurking in the words "He left us". As if death was in his father’s hands, as if he was the one who determined the time of his death. He didn’t care about his dead father. Maybe his father was happy now, peaceful, free of the difficulties of this life, his spirit lightened now on being released from his body. It must be a characteristic of one’s nephesh. One thought of oneself first. I was startled. Another blow to my faith in love. I didn’t leave it at that. I went on to apply this to myself.
I thought about my patients with whom I had spent most of my time. I knew I was liked by them, that I was valued and respected by them, that I meant something to them. I tried to do everything I could for them. I tried to apply my learning and abilities as best I could. They knew this and appreciated it. One day I decided to test something. But they weren’t to know about this. I imagined myself dead for a moment. I was in my coffin. Being taken to the cemetery. Alone. No-one beside me. Dirt being shovelled on top of me. Angels arriving. Asking their questions. I had no one to help me, no one to consult. I was all alone. As at the point of my birth. My loved ones came to the funeral. My patients were sad and grieving. In the minds of most of them was this thought: "You’ve left us doctor. What are we going to do now?" No one thought about me.. What I was doing in my grave, what answer I was to give to the angels. The ones who did think of me wouldn’t number more than 10-15 people. The rest would think only of themselves, grieving at being left alone.
I was devastated. Love came tumbling down all around me. The love I had imagined came crushing down upon me. I was not loved. People loved their own nephesh first, above all else. They loved for themselves. For their own benefit. I no longer trusted untried loves.
The first blow came when, on deciding that I loved someone, I then realized that it wasn’t really them that I loved. The second one hit me when I realised that in being loved by someone else I was not the one who was loved. In loving the things I loved, I was actually loving their attributes. I was loving their beauty, their virtue, their talent, their maturity, goodness, benevolence, kindness. When someone else told me they loved me, they actually loved my characteristics. None of the characteristics of any being belonged to that being themselves. A beautiful face was created out of nothing. In loving a beautiful face, in being in awe of it, wasn’t it actually the one who created it that we were in awe of. In praising a person’s talents, in marvelling at them, wasn’t it actually the Creator that we marvelled at? All beauty, all talent that we failed to love in the name of The Creator was wasted, exhausted. Praised and then forgotten.
All love was actually love felt for the beauty of the Creator reflected in His Creation. And love is, itself, a gift bestowed by The Creator. It belongs to Him. It is given in order to know Him, to recognise Him, to love Him. From this aspect, we are at each moment being tested in life. Every concern, every love, every thing given and every thing taken back is all a test. Dawn is a test. The darkness of night is a test. Every child placed in our lap is a test. Every calamity, every problem, every worry is a test. Every love planted in our hearts is a test. Every anger is a test. Every love felt for us, every concern about us, every kindness towards us is a test. Whatever means there is to love is His creation. But our ego wants to ascribe this to itself. People want to take love out of His hands and place it in their own. Maliciously using it, abusing it, exploiting it for their own emotional benefit. They do this under the guise of "I love you". They do it under the guise of wanting to be loved by others. They assume possession of the love given by the Creator, in order to love Him, and use it for themselves. In order to feel valuable. In order to feel special. In order to inflate their ego.
When people say "I love you" they want eternity from us. They want to take infinity away from us. They expect us to sacrifice our lives for them and vice versa. What is being asked of us is our eternal lives. Love is too infinite and vast to be spent on one person only. Infinite and unlimited. Who else can love us infinitely but our Creator. Who else can we love infinitely but our Creator? Is it possible to talk of real love in the absence of love in His Name? Who other than the Creator can be our everything, can give us everything we want. Who other than Him can give us infinite mercy? Who else but Him can know us and understand us, value us? Who else can know what is best for us? And who else can, in knowing what is best for us, will it to happen?
Loving is innocent only when directed towards Him.

© 2004 / Mustafa Ulusoy


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