Sunday, January 13, 2013

Love is not enough

I've had this idea rolling around in my mind for a few months, about love and how we know it. I believe strongly that the feeling of love may be unconditional, but relationships should not be.

My childhood taught me that love is not enough, because people commit all sorts of atrocities in the name of love.  Love lets you accept awful things from the people you care about.  Love is what we call it when people who aren't good for each other stay together. Love is what lets families cluster around people who have done someone else harm, and protect them regardless of innocence or guilt.

But love is not enough. The feeling of it, the words we call it. The language of love is useless and insulting without acts of love to accompany it.  Acts of love are not standalone behaviours that we can cast about and say 'here is proof of my love'.  Love is always contextual, always matters in light of what has gone before.

Staying with someone is not always an act of love, and leaving them sometimes is.  Rage is not an act of love, but the right kind of anger can be.  Pouring out the flimsy words we use to describe love can be an act of love as much as it can be an act of violence, of manipulation, or of selfishness.

It's all too easy to list all the things that love isn't, to talk about why love isn't enough.  All of us can list the things that others do that make us feel unloved.  Lots of people are good at seeing when they aren't being loved in "the right way".  But that doesn't help us know it when we see it, when it's in the room with us.

I may not have been loved by any man, but I surely know what a woman's love is.  I know what women's love is capable of. I know the love that I am capable of.

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