CAN LOVE BE OVERLY ROMANTICIZED?
I'll be honest: one of the biggest pleasures in life isn't just a good shot of Whiskey (although I'm not gonna complain if you hand me two-fingers of Hudon Baby Bourbon Whiskey); or running a 100 mile race (there's pleasure in that pain, to be sure); or sailing to obscure islands in Greece (yes, please!); for me, the greatest of all pleasures is a good love story. I don't even need a great love story; just a good one does the trick. I so love when two souls find each other and find ways of making love happen. And I know the odds of finding your "soul mate" are so stacked against the mathematical universe, but somehow love finds a way that leaves even a genius mathematics professors scratching their heads.
My love for the love story is so profoundly intertwined in me that you could say I'm just a sucker for love. I am. I'm not afraid to admit it. I love the idea of love. If I'm having a bad day, I either write a good love story or read one (and yes, I love watching cheesy Rom-Coms). Ok, I admit it. There something about the story that moves me emotionally. A few months ago I watched the film ME BEFORE YOU and we just cried our eyes out. It's sentimental, I know, I know, but it's what I love even when I'm critical of sentimentalism (so I contradict myself).
Being moved emotionally for me feels cleansing--like sweating when you workout at the gym--crying is actually a healthy thing for your body--it helps you moved things out of your body that might otherwise be stuck. So there you have it, it's my confession to you.
But what is it about a love story that's different for me than say, a "who done it" story? I like detective stories, don't get me wrong, esp. where you follow the plot until justice is served. That's cool. There's definitely something ethical about the "who done it." But for me, the story you have when you observe and experience two unlikely and dysfunctional human beings, with all their hangups and corks, find a way to let a love blanket shelter them. They become a world in worlds, and that belonging to a unique world that two lovers create for themselves, sheltering themselves off, creating their own language and a twisted sense of humor, is what for me is so interesting. No one would ever get the jokes that a lover and I share--they would ship us out on the next bus to lunnyville.
In a world full of individuals who seek to shelter themselves off from others, from pain, from the ravishes of permanent endless stress and competition, the love story in which two individuals break out of their prison-ego and find a new world together with someone else is not just rare, but miraculous. Love is a miracle. It's like the sun when it breaks open the darkness of the night. I love that. In a "me" "me" "me" culture where you're trained to buy things for yourself, to operate under the tyranny of "only consider your own self-interest", love flows against the current. That's why the Italians call it amore (against the mores of society).
Of course when one or both lovers can't release their ego and risk a new world of flux in which you are no longer the master of your own destiny, this is where real love can begin to grow like a strong tree that shades you from the sun. I'm not saying that you need to lose yourself entirely, that would be dangerous and can destroy you, but to think that you're always going to be just the same person and fully in command of yourself while you're in a love relationship will sabotage your co-creation of a love-world. This is where a good love story becomes a great one: it's the moment when both lovers finally throws off the ego-mastery over themselves (and over the relationship, "You must do this and not that...." and so on) that they can finally ride the wave of a different divine vibration. You know, it's the moment when you know it's not rational to give up something significant (an ex-lover, a job, a religion, your ego whatever) and so you throw reason to the wind because the beloved becomes for you your destiny. Said slightly differently, the other isn't and should never be considered necessary, of course. We are not a logical sequence of reason, we are human beings full of amazing acts of stupidity and irrational acts of beauty and grace. Finally, excuse the analogy, but a lover is like dessert: the chocolate pie-cake isn't necessary, but wow can it send you to a different register and level of enjoyment (not to mention an extra hour at the gym). But to have the dessert you must first have the main course.
But my problem has always been that I see love as the ultimate end of my life, that somehow I'll be completed in the other and will find ultimate joy. No doubt this belief is related to my relationship with a mother I never had. You know the endless search for the mother you never had but desired in your twisted warped fantasy. And this for me is like crack for the crack-head: love becomes like a drug and I have to get the next "fix" to feel okay. Like I have done crazy shit, like REAL CRAZY SHIT before, selling houses, a business, hell, I would give the shirt off my back for my beloved. But boy, 'o boy, have I been burned. I was a crack-head for love (and I still might be). Damn! Have I learned my lesson? No, I'd do it again and sell everything for my lover, I'm hopeless this way, me think!
But is this behavior healthy? It seems so romantic, right? Wrong! I hate to pop this bubble, but this is actually self-destructive behavior. The problem was that I had to stop and think to myself--why was I so desperate? Sure it's good to sacrifice somethings but why everything? And the answer I return to, and this is so difficult, I realized that I have such a low self-esteem that I think that my lover will only love me for what I can give and not love me for who I am. Just me. Me. Hello!
And of course, the most romantic story of them all is that, even with my self-destructive problem, that I am loved despite myself. That a lover would see through this self-destructive problem that I have and still love me because it's "me". It might not be a healthy "me" but it is me where I am. After all don't we all have our toxic diseases and ugliness inside?
Yet this only raises another problem: manipulation, like deep, dark, manipulation that eats away your dreams and sanity.
If just "me" isn't good enough for me (causing me to have to give away all that I have), then it certainly won't be good enough for someone else, like a lover. A lover doesn't deserve a me that hates itself. So the real sacrifice that's needed isn't anything material at all--it's the sacrifice of sacrifice itself, because your lover demands the respect that comes when there's a solid and dignified me whom he or she is able to love otherwise it's just a trap. Plus, think of all the pressure you put on someone if you don't know who you are. That's fucked.
Think about it: if you lack a true sense of dignity in-and-of-yourself then the very possibility of the love story is itself always impossible and you'll end up repeating the cycle over and over again. The house of cards will always collapse, and that may be fun to watch, but it's not fun to experience (trust me). In the end, without dignity even minimal but true self-love, your not able to give love at all, and so all the gifts are just manipulations to force the other to NOT love you, but a fake you. Oh, shit...that's crazy, right? And this is why I love a good love story. Got it?
Welcome to my world, wink wink!