The feeling of being loved or not being loved is not circumstantial.
I can feel alone anywhere in the world, in any crowd, in any set of eyes or arms.
Most of the love that has been here for me in my life has not been translatable. I haven’t received it, haven’t felt it or believed in it. I am having specific kinds of memories lately, sudden flashes of times when people have been showing me they loved me and I have missed the ball completely.
In line at the Value Village on Capital Hill yesterday or in the Reef with a milk shake last week or at the pop show the week before that, I will see a little movie in my mind and I will almost shout out loud, “Oh My God! That person loved me. They did that because of love!”
I heard once that when giant boats first met the shores of this continent, many people could not even see them. They were so far out of any ones frame of reference that they just disappeared in the eyes of those beholders. I have no idea if that is real or bullshit but it is an apt metaphor for my relationship with human love.
My automatic response to a loving act of any variety was dismissal, and that’s if I noticed it in the first place. Most of my life it has been so beyond me that anyone would ever act out of love for me that I don’t even see it, let alone feel or respond.
It’s easy to believe no one loves me and not even notice I am believing it. It’s unquestioned. It’s a fact like solid ground, except in reality the ground is always moving. Except in reality there is an abundance of love for me.
She held up the little blue VapoRub bottle and said “Your not gonna like this.”
She held it close to me. “This is your idea of love.”
“This is your idea of love okay?” I nodded, sort of following.
“It’s this shape, it’s this color and size, it has exactly this many letters printed on this exact label in this exact order. Alright?”
“There are two things going on right now. First of all you can’t recognize any love that doesn’t look and feel and act exactly like this. For instance if someone had this kind of love for you,” she took a coffee mug and set it next to the VapoRub bottle on a chair she had pulled up right in front of me, “you couldn’t accept it because you wouldn’t even know it was love.”
“Secondly you won’t show anyone what you think love is.” She grabbed the bottle and held it behind her back and did a not to flattering impression of me. “Oh yeah. You say you love me. Well what color is love? What size is it? How many letters are on it?… any wrong answer is evidence that the person you’re testing doesn’t love you. You’re always testing everyone. It’s a set up. No one will ever win and you will never feel loved.”
“What if,” she is queen of semi-dramatic pauses, “What if it was none of your business how other people loved you? What if it was only your business to work to recognize it and then decide if you want it?”
She was wrong about one thing.
I did like that.
I want to tattoo an open VapoRub bottle on my forehead (I might settle for my arm). I want to see it everyday. I want to work hard to rewire my brain. I want to be my hearts diligent private detective. I want to collect mountains of evidence that I am loved by all kinds of people in all kinds of ways.
I want to jump to the conclusion that everyone is doing their best with their own special fallible beautiful variety of love. I know that I am and who am I to think I am the only one?
What if it was none of my business how people loved me?
What if I was in the business of receiving?
What if I was in the business of accepting?
What if ten years from now I am having vivid memories of the love I shared instead of the love I missed?