‘Beyond attachment, after fear… REAL love.’
Below is a re-post of a piece I published in 2010. I was reminded of its existence whilst reading through a spreadsheet listing all 304 posts I have ever published here.
I then re-read some of my earliest ones; some of them truly feel like my past self was communicating (quite specifically) with my present self, regarding what present self needs to be mindful of at this point in my life.
This, my 38th post, is one of them. A lot of what I wrote in it, is far more applicable to my private emotional life today than it was back then.
When you have been through the emotional ringer so many times, it is easy to become closed up. I’m so in awe of friends who charge heart first into relationships and friendships, over and over again. No matter how many times they fall off a horse, they get right back on it! I don’t know whether this is an admirable feat, or the definition of insanity – after all, the oft quoted and misattributed definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Perhaps the re-mounting of the horse is only insane if you get back on the same horse? Alas, I do not know.
What I do know is that I don’t think I’m in danger of closing up anymore. From an early age, I struggled with the reality that it is a fundamental part of my constitution to feel the undercurrents of everyone around me. This predicament, a gift and a curse, can be exhausting, and has caused me much grief in the past. So, a number of years ago, as many people do, I found it necessary to try and find some balance between that natural state of being, and detachment. But, like a lot of people, I confused detachment with closing my heart, in order to protect it (or so I thought). It’s a common mistake, one that occurred because of my motivation at the time. A motivation that trips up people all over the world: the motivation to not be fucked around or hurt by others again. Self-preservation.
Essentially, I was motivated by fear.
Nowadays, the fear is gone, and my desire to cultivate a level of detachment is motivated by something else. It is motivated by a desire for healthy, balanced, higher relationships. Relationships and friendships without the psychotic intensity that left me so battered in previous relationships and friendships, as I subjugated myself to the other. Relationships with honesty, space and respect, that allow both parties to be who they are… freely.
So, I’m practicing (or rather, learning to practice, imperfect student I am) loving-detachment in all my relationships. Some might say this is an oxymoron, but this perception is due to a misunderstanding of what love actually is. Love is not attachment, and real love is not conditional. Moreover, attachment implies conditions attached.
Detachment to me is thus about acceptance of all other people as equals and individuals, responsible for themselves. It’s about being responsible for the way you feel but, also, being honest about the way you feel. And it’s about allowing people to be who they are without judgement, and supporting the best in them. And, of course, it’s about love – unconditional love. And taking care of yourself.
My big problem has always been losing myself in a relationship. So I am still trying to learn that “taking care of yourself” part… and have resolved to be single, build my life and enjoy my friendships until I’ve mastered that – not just for my own benefit, but for the benefit of my future partner. But I am getting better at the “unconditional love” part.
Below is an excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. If someone narcs on me I’ll take it down 😛 But I’m posting it here because it encapsulates the point I am feebly trying to make (because the words just aren’t flowing today… one of those terribly unproductive days).
And that point is this: don’t fear the pain. Love requires vulnerability. That means it hurts, sometimes. But when you love unconditionally, you can afford to love wastefully. Because the strange and steadfast paradox is that holding fast to and choosing love, every time, without conditions, protects you from everything.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”