Strange title, no? Love isn’t really the kind of thing I ever thought I’d be writing about on here, but things happen and I like to share them.
A week ago yesterday my wife’s sister’s husband’s brother (brother-in-law twice removed?) died in a car wreck. My last post was about what to say to comfort those who are outside your own belief system, and this is kind of a strange extension to that story.
My wife’s life story is a really interesting one, and some of it we are still learning about in recent times. One of the things we have learned is that she was born dead, and was actually dead for 5 minutes after she was born, and they don’t even know if she was dead while stuck in the birth canal. So, her total time ‘not alive’ is an unknown. We were only told this at my daughter’s birthday party in the beginning of June, so we’re still putting together some of the pieces of how that explains a fewe of her personality and problems. She’s had her own psyc doc for a while and she’s never made sense to them. She still doesn’t make any sense, but at least they have a good idea why. I know…it’s a strange situation.
Anyway, back to the death. So one of the issues she has is that when she’s under a MASSIVE amount of stress, her bowels shut down. Funky? Yeah. It’s only happened three times in her life now, so it’s not a hard day at work makes her not poop. We’ve had CT scans and all that good stuff and nobody knows why, it’s just the way it is. Well, with all the death in her family (7 in the last two months), work, our little girl, and dealing with me, things got to be too much again. The problem is that this time we couldn’t tell her to drop a class or something to lighten her stress, things just are the way they are.
The funeral for M was on Friday, and she was already having big problems by Wednesday. She’s been watching his kids, prepping meals, grieving, and all those other things that come along with the untimely demise of a loved one. So, Thursday night I devised a plan. Being a loving person and caring for her overall well being, I decided to involve her in a ritual. She couldn’t know what it was about, sometimes that has to be the way things are, but the goal was for me to ease her burden on Friday. So, I setup a multifaceted approach to help her out.
In the ritual I set things up to give her a sense of peace, calm, and comforting when she came under emotional stress, and to pass what it replaced on to me. I’ve recently been through so much therapy, including grief/mourning training, that I was willing to deal with the ramifications of lifting her emotional burdens for a day. All of this was so she could receive a good experience from M’s funeral and achieve a very positive closure like I have learned to achieve.
The good news is, it worked! The interesting news is, I had NO idea what I was in for. That day, when she would have come emotionally apart, she really did get that sense of peace, calm, and comfort. She didn’t know that was specifically what I did the night before, those were just the words that came out of her mouth. So, I considered that a success. The part I wasn’t expecting was how the ‘overflow valve’ that would send her emotions over to me would actually work. It was WAY different than I could have ever imagined.
I think the first thing I should explain is that I really didn’t understand how naive I was. Not about how well it would work, but about the way people feel. There is a part in my mind that just assumes that love/hate/anger/loss and the entire gamut of emotions are the same for everyone. I know we all may feel them stronger in different situations or towards different people, but I had no idea that my entire concept of an emotion could be wrong.
When I read about love, or even hear others talk about it, there are different traits that appear. Some seem very hierarchical like ‘motherly love’, ‘platonic love’, ‘religious love’, or even the ‘love those we hate’ (I still haven’t figured that one out). I can see the love people have wax and wane based on familiarity, time, positive and negative deeds, and even sometimes seemly their love can change on a whim. I’m no stranger to these different ‘types’ of love. I love my daughter different than I love my wife. One is a ‘fatherly love’ and the other is a ‘romantic love’. Right? Does this make sense? I’ve been asking people about ‘how’ they love others and ‘why’ they love others the last couple days, and so far it seems like everyone I talk to can use the same words and get into the same conversation about the concept.
Not my wife. She has no idea what I’m talking about. As a part of her psyc evals and therapy there has been a lot of talk about an “emotional wall” with her. It’s one of the things that made doctors wonder about something in the autism spectrum before they found out about the whole ‘dead’ thing. We’ve always talked about the fact that she doesn’t feel ‘romantic love’. It’s just not there for her. It’s not a problem in our marriage as I love her for many reasons beyond reciprocation of emotion, and there is love there, it’s just not expressed in the same way. Or so I thought.
Back to Friday. We go through the funeral, the reception, and the obligatory hugs on the way out. I noticed that I was far more emotional than I should have been. I think I met M twice before he died; both times at a holiday barbecue, so I didn’t even really have much of superficial connection to him, let alone a deep one. So I’m getting all of this emotion, but my primary concern is to be there for C and to make sure she’s ok. I even made a little ‘item’ for her during the ritual for her to use if I thought things were getting out of control. But, she was fine. She sat there and listened, remembered, and thought. There was one specific time where I could see she was starting to get a big ball of emotion going and it just fizzled out and she went back to her peaceful state. As designed, it came over to me. Through the whole thing, she was perfectly peaceful and I was being bombarded by emotion. After it was done I had to go straight to a meeting that ran late, and it wasn’t until it was done and I was heading home that I really had a chance to sift through the emotions and what had happened.
Through therapy I developed this unconscious process of dissecting and handling emotion. My brain just starts picking at them one-by-one, rather than as a mass, examines them, comes to peace with them, and then moves on. It sounds very formulaic, but it’s a coping skill that some of us need to learn. One emotion at a time until all of them are handled. Never try to handle them all at once. That’s what makes pills necessary.
So I’m sifting through the day and I start having a hard time processing some of the emotions. It wasn’t because they were so powerful, or that they were for someone I didn’t know, it’s because the way they were experienced was totally foreign to me. The sense of loss, sadness, and all those others were running around in there and very normal to deal with, but they all revolved around love. It makes sense, she knew M, loved him, and lost him. What I didn’t understand was her version of love.
C’s version of love is almost indescribable. She doesn’t have hierarchies, qualifications (deeds, attitudes), and it doesn’t wax and wane. I didn’t just get to feel her love for M, I got to feel it for every person that she met during that day. Not everyone got the love, but those that did all got the same love. She loves M as much as her brother. It’s the same with T (M’s brother, my brother-in-law) and her mom. It’s the same with me and Little N. Her love doesn’t change based on the person…at all. As far as the love aspect goes, there would have been no difference if it was anyone that she loved in that box, the emotion would have been the same. Period.
I didn’t just get to understand the way she feels love, I got to feel love the way she does. I felt love as her on Friday. It wasn’t sympathy, it wasn’t empathy, I felt her loss and her love for M as if I was her.
You know what? It absolutely humbled me.
I have never felt anything so whole and unconditional in my entire life. Ever. It was so pure and true that it honestly makes me wonder if I even really understand what love is, or if I can truly know how to love someone. I know that sounds ridiculous. She could have explained to me that he love was different a million times, and I would have just tossed it back to the old ‘she can’t express romantic love’ statement. Now that I have experience the way that she feels love, I know why she doesn’t feel romantic love; she’s completely beyond it. It is a whole and entire love like I never could have truly understood unless I had experienced it myself. It’s almost more like a soul-link to others. She admitted that once she loves a person there is nothing they can do to ever change it. She would separate herself from them if it was needed for her physical or emotional well-being (she’s not stupid), but the love would still remain.
There is only one exception to that, but I won’t really touch on it here. The love is still there, but link has been severed. What love was there is still there, but with the link severed, the love cannot be nurtured and grown anymore.
I know I already talk some seriously nutty stuff on here, but this one makes me feel like a total loon. Experiencing what I did on Friday is making me reevaluate everything. I want to love like that. Having a taste of it and having to let it go is honestly disheartening. I want to be able to feel that way for those I care about. I want to be able to show other people what that pure, whole concept of love really is. All of the poems, songs, and philosophy ever written cannot compare to what I got to experience on Friday. To be one of the few recipients of that love makes me feel like the luckiest man on the planet.
Understanding that love will be part of what consumes me for a while at least. It was like getting a small glimpse of how I want my soul to be.
She feels bad that I carried that emotion for her, I feel bad that I had to let it go. I think it’s possibly the single most powerful spiritual thing that has ever happened to me, and the one that has also made me feel the most inadequate.
P.S.: The fact that my ritual worked that well makes it one of the most awesomely powerful things I’ve ever done with magic. The true lack of boundaries within Chaos is still hard to fathom in its entirety. I need to figure out how this can even happen within Carroll’s probability formulas.