Saturday, July 21, 2007

On the Many Faces of Love

A recent conversation led me to contemplate the many faces of love and the need for forgiveness in light of the fact that none of us are perfect. It is impossible to go through life without both hurting and being hurt. Forgiveness, therefore, has to be learned and practiced if we do not want to end up unloved and unloving.

It had been over twenty years since my younger sister had spoken. When our mother passed away she could not deal with the anger and grief she felt. Since I had been unable to travel half away across the country at that time, she found it easier to direct her anger at me.

When I was so sick last year, my daughter phoned her and discovered that my sister had wanted to reconcile for a long time, but was afraid I would reject her. From my point of view the choice had always been hers. Originally we began corresponding by Instant Messenger once a week. We did not try to reclaim the lost years; it would not have been possible. We simply began the process of getting to know each other all over again.

From the time she was born, we had a deep spiritual connection. She needed only to think about needing to talk to me, and even from a thousand miles away, I would phone her. This was not mind reading, far from it. I simply knew how she was feeling emotionally, and would respond without thinking when she wanted to contact me. This strong a connection is not that rare. People often pick up the phone even before it rings, knowing in advance who it would be. Or they would think about calling someone only to have that person call them before they could follow through with the call.

When she let me back into my accustomed place in her heart, she found it a bit strange initially. I had been there from the time she was born, but had to block her out when she disowned me. It was simply too painful to feel her sorrow and anger without being able to do anything about it. She had forgotten that I had always been there, but as soon as I reminded her, she recalled how empty it felt when I was no longer there. I had not stopped loving her; I just had to do it from a distance.

It was not until last Christmas that I allowed myself to believe that she was back in my life to stay. It was not the gifts she sent, it was the wrapping, the same way we used to do, with a tree ornament on each package. I cried and cried and cried and finally believed.

Forgiveness is very hard to do, it is right up there with I’m sorry. In fact, I think it may be harder to forgive than to apologize, but it can be done. It has to be learned if we do not want to go through life with a heart filled with bitterness and anger, unable to love and losing those we have loved. That does not mean that we forget totally, but the open wound does heal and become a scar. It helps to remember that people don’t usually start out to hurt us,it just happens while they are trying to get their own needs met. The scar is always there, but no longer painful. Many things wound us over the years and we must learn to let those wounds heal for our own benefit if not for others. I will always bear the scars but it does not stop me from loving.

My love for my two chosen sisters, sisters of my soul, as close to me as it is possible for people to be close. They have walked in my soul. I know of no other way to describe what happened in the hospital last year. They came through the mist to bring me back. The image created in my mind was of the three of us sitting around a small bistro table in a glorious garden, while they told me that I could do this. I could come back, I just needed a bit of help and some extra strength to do so, and both of them gave me all that they had. One of them provided the direction, the other provided the visualization and made her strength available. They created an unbreakable bond between the three of us. They were not even sure they had succeeded until I wrote them from the hospital to try to thank them, although there are really no words for the love and gratitude I feel for them.

There are so many faces of love. The love is no less strong and it is not a matter of loving one more or less than another. Love simply is, it courses through us, bringing beauty to all that we see and do. For instance, my love for my biological daughter began even before she was born. She carries a part of my soul, the part that animated her when still in my womb. Another bond forged of love that cannot be broken.

My love for my daughters by choice is based on the need they had for a maternal figure, which I could provide. It has to do with never refusing to help when there is an observed need. My love for them is no less for that, but I am much more prepared to let them go when the time comes that they no longer have that need.

My love for my partner wears yet another face. It is based on many lifetimes spent together, the trust that comes from knowing each other so well and each putting the needs of the other first. He completes me.

When we are here on this earth, in these bodies, we cannot be perfect. We inevitably hurt one another, not on purpose but because we are unable to totally avoid it. We are simply trying to get our own needs met. We must remember to forgive ourselves as well as those who have caused us pain.


jim said...

Love is like that Zareba, many aspects and manifestations, we should recognize love more than we do. And of course, be more ready to feel and give it.

You are right about the forgiveness from understanding that we all have to operate from ourselves much of the time. Some CAN be more giving, others simply and really cannot, due to circumstances, circumstances that often are not known even by the person themselves. I practise 'benefit of the doubt' and don't press for 'return' on love, it is much easier that way, easier to love and leave people free to operate as necessity requires, I don't try to second guess them, something I have learned.

I also think that one should try to make possible a 'clean slate' for others, all the time. This doesn't mean accepting everything, just not holding onto everything.

Very good post, Zareba, enjoyed reading these thoughts and means. My best to you, keep writing.

Margie said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful post!
It touched me so very much!


Alexys Fairfield said...

What a beautiful story of love. Love does have many faces, many feelings, experiences, textures, shapes and colors. It shapes us into what we are -- and more important what we become.

jim said...

My brother and I speak very seldom, his life, a thousand miles away from mine, my poverty limits me, his wife limits him, but love still exists between us, we both know that, it is just that life is not what we would like in some regards at this time. This has been true for 20 years, maybe it will change one day, patience you know.

Keep writing Zareba, great thoughts and stories, I look forward to more. Love always, to you Zareba.

Don Iannone said...

Z...wonderful. Wishing you blessings.

Zareba said...

Thanks to all of you for your comments. It is wonderful to have you read and identify with what I have written. It sends me back to the keyboard with renewed faith that what I do matters. ...Z