Friday, November 12, 2010

I Can't Regret What I Did For Love

On love, fear, and other things
The right types of sacrifices

It takes awhile to realize how quiet you have to be, how delicate you ought to live – what words you say, what actions you make, who you align yourself with. How you must live in a manner simultaneously very loud, but also very, very quiet. You become aware, eventually, as I have – that politics, hierarchies, are everywhere. You watch the way people treat you – how a slight turn of phrase reveals your standing in this structure is lesser than theirs. You observe; I observe.

I observe friends wrap themselves into unnecessary problems just because they’re too afraid to do anything else than the pattern they’ve been living for years. I’ve been approached by co-workers who agree, “I’ve learned to be very quiet on this job,” another relief staff: “just keep your head down and your mouth shut.” Which is to say: I observe the patterns people deem acceptable, and why they deem them acceptable – how we are bound by love, fear, or ingrained societal belief. I screen every moment of life more than I live it, in an attempt to live more fruitfully in the long run.

I haven’t updated this blog in awhile just as I haven’t written nearly as often as I should be. I have only a few close friends in the area, a few more throughout the country, and then my mother; I learn to invest in myself. I see too many disasters – interpersonal conflicts. I attempt to remind myself everyday, “For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.” – Audrey Hepburn

Perhaps it should be worded: I am too aware, and I have lived through enough in life that I know what I don’t need to live through. Qualifiers.

I’ve begun approaching life on a very reserved love concept. It’s an approach that’s simultaneously hard and easy to execute, simultaneously quiet and loud. The approach demands I try to discover what I need from life, what I want from life, and what it will take me to obtain these things. This requires me to radically alter and screen my environment and the people in it so that all possible toxins are repeatedly fumigated. I mention to a friend that it makes me feel like an elitist, that I occasionally get lonely, because I can’t meet eye to eye with so many people. Because I demand that my environment be intelligent, compassionate, enlightening, aware (socially and politically), respectful, caring, genuine: I demand that my environment give me the same things I know I can give others. I want an environment that creates rather than destroys, that gives rather than survives.

I’ve met people recently, and immediately batted them out of my radar within minutes. I gauge tolerances and flexibilities, and remind myself of all the friends I have had in the past: the ones who will blame everyone else for personal problems they can’t deal with; ones who yell and curse; ones who shirk responsibility for their own life; ones who run towards drugs and bars to escape a life they can’t find a way to bear; ones who give up when life gets complicated; ones who believe everything can be solved by sex, drugs, or parties; ones who look towards you to always always ALWAYS pick them up after they fall. People whose lives gravitate around reacting out of fear rather than love, who do not take on full responsibility and emotional consciousness in regards to their actions and the corresponding responsive reactions of their environments. A lot of people are naturally like this – society breeds it. And to be honest, I have been that person before too. It’s easy in a society that likes to let you believe there is instant gratification possible for almost every problem, for a society that doesn’t like to admit it has problems.

But... I’m not a babysitter. I’m not a pulpit. I’m not a reflection hub. I will not encourage and regurgitate those types of behaviors: the ones that encourage self-ignorance. And so I learn how to love myself first, how to alter my definition of love.

When I experienced an emotionally challenging dating situation the past year, I found myself hunkering down and reading “All about love” by bell hooks and “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm. I was aware I had a lot to work on in myself, and I wanted to understand why my relationships kept failing when I put all of myself into them; I wanted to understand what I was attracting and bringing into my life, and what love really was – how I could obtain it.

While the cliché persists that we must love ourselves first before anyone else will love us, I’ve found that tidbit to be a bit trite – while it may be true, it loses its true meaning when our ideas of love are so skewed. “Love yourself” has been infused with a pop culture definition just as bad as “love” has, wherein “love yourself” becomes spend money on yourself and go out all the time!, treat yourself to comfort items and vacation days! and “love” becomes I will suffer all abuses including bruised limbs and emotional blackmailing because that is true love because true love endures all, even abuse.

It’s a society we live in that glorifies extremes – one that provides hypocritical advice. If you love yourself, wouldn’t you be averse to getting into an abusive relationship – but wait, according to society, true love means ignoring the abuse… Wait… Hold on a second…

Fuck, it’s too complicated – let’s just go to the bars, right?

In my past: I’ve been abused physically, emotionally, and sexually. In my past, I’ve also likely been very emotionally abusive. In my past, I’ve had drug problems; I’ve had escapism problems. I’d go shopping to put things behind me, compensating stress with the societal form of LOVE YOURSELF! I approached life yelling, kicking, and screaming: fighting. I’d run off on one road trip after the next. Everything was a struggle that felt too overwhelming. "She was a lover, baby, and a fighter" and it got to the point I couldn’t really discern what was what anymore. I loved the things I hated and vice versa. It was hard to argue with myself when everyone else was solving their problems the way I was, when society glorified my own decay.

I got tired of it though. I got tired of myself, and I got tired for everyone else who had to deal with me.

So I shut off the flood gates. Learned to be responsible.

I found myself reminding myself and everyone else that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” You’re complaining about your job? Your job may suck, but you are the one working there and you can choose another job. Sucky love life? While the other person may be difficult, you did choose them – so perhaps you should learn to rehabilitate your selection patterns and discover yourself before you pick a person to be in a relationship with. Not feeling like you’re living a fulfilling life? Life is hard and the economy is awful, but you do make your own life at the end of the day and no one is stopping you from changing it.

Many people don’t like these sort of rhetorical responses from me – they frequently involve more effort than people feel comfortable putting in (comfort being quite possibly the most accurate word here).

But I suppose this is a very verbose way to say: I’m learning to carve myself out again. I’ve made myself a canvas once more, and I pick my paints very carefully. I pick the directions I’m taking my paintbrush deliberately. I make myself think, “will this foster the good parts of who I am or bring out the bad parts? Can I love this? Why don’t I love this? Can I handle this? What are my limits? How can I give myself the most natural form of freedom?”

Through mindfulness, I am giving myself more in the long run.

Does this person seem like they’d foster who I am as a person, and expand me? No? Goodbye.

Does this job seem like it’d fit my career goals? No? Adjust it.

Does this situation, this organization, this life path feel right to me? No? Why not?

And if I find myself doing something repeatedly that keeps getting me more stressed and feeling crappy, I sit myself down and then ask myself, Okay, why do I keep doing this thing that ends up making me feel emotionally drained?, so that I can yank that power cord and energy flow from my brain, and create a more sustainable organic alternative.

I have been very quiet lately: honing in, hollowing out. I’ve been very loud lately: attending meditation centers, attempting to let personal time infiltrate into my schedule in any possible way, talking with people that will help make my career goals possible, being around people who seek a creative, mutually beneficial exchange. I learn to love myself. To make every action I commit to one of self-love, love of art, love of relationship: peaceful, creative, fostering love.

And thus, I try to commit myself to a life of love.

I’ve found that most of our society glorifies love as this concept limited to romantic relationship or family relationships. I lack both of those (aside from the relationship with my mother). But I don’t find myself nearly as short-changed as the times I was involved with my chaotic, harmful family and abusive and emotionally immature friends: what society tells me love is or should suffer through.

Love is knowing what mature love isn’t and isn’t, and that if one were in a loving relationship, there would never be a trace of abuse. “When we understand love as the will to nurture our own and another's spiritual growth, it becomes clear that we cannot claim to love if we are hurtful and abusive. Love and abuse cannot coexist. Abuse and neglect, are by definition, the opposites of nurturance and care.” – bell hooks

I tread loudly and quietly, constructing my world so that it feeds rather than malnourishes me. I hurt people occasionally, and I have lived a less than admirable past – but I grow compassionate with myself and my errors, I grow responsive and responsible for my own needs and recognize that I must not and cannot regret what I do for the sake of love. And I remain truly sorry to all those I have harmed, and get embarrassed or guilty about my actions occasionally with having ex-communicated some and hung onto others who didn’t want me, grazing a hurtful line of intimate connection. I can recognize the desperation I suffered in trying to come to terms with who I was and what I needed to do.

And I take it all in, and I grow hyperaware of how I have been, who I am now, and who I desire to be. I gain the approach of love, and I move on, thinking:

I can’t regret what I did for love.

For love, true love in the purest sense, is worth all the time and effort you can put into it. And, being aware of bell hooks and Isaac Newtown and trivial shows like Glee that help refresh my mind on the broadness of the word of love (season 2 episode 1), I know that love (in any form) is a very conscious choice that begins with the self and then expands to all others we surround ourselves with. And it’s up to us for it to be fulfilling and wholesome.

Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
But I can't regret
What I did for love, what I did for love

Look my eyes are dry
The gift was ours to borrow
It's as if we always knew,
And I won't forget what I did for love,
What I did for love


  1. Hey, this is brilliant writing. I'm working hard everyday to carve my own environment as well. It is like trying pushing against a wall sometimes keeping my own "spine" and speaking, behaving from a place that is true to myself and not just replicating other's realities.

  2. Sounds like you are definitely in a place in life where you are redefining yourself, redefining how you live in the world. It definitely can be a lonely time, one where you lose more friends than you gain. But that loss is temporary, as you find your right people who love you for you - both the you of right now and the you that you are becoming.