The meaning of the word. (What it means to you)
I was in a relationship a few years back that had, like MOST relationships I am familiar with, entered into a season of threatening turbulence. At the time of this “situation”, rather by the time of this situation, we had began to exist outside of the immediate “sensation” that is the genesis of most unions and were beginning to enter into the period in which if it was worth something to either of us, it was time to fight for it. We had gotten past that initial “like” phase and we had gone through the “can’t separate us phase” and the “sex makes everything better” phase was wearing thin as was the “everyone is looking, lets keep up the appearance of symbiotic perfection” finding its way out of the door too. We were coming to the point where you really “meet the person you met”. We had come to the point where you really begin to know someone, if that’s what you REALLY want to do.
So here we were.
To be honest, I was never fully committed to the relationship in the first place ( I base this conclusion on hindsight and the resulting maturity that I have undergone) but I knew that my “weaknesses” were still STRONGER than any capacity of which the woman that I was with could handle. She was fascinated by things about me, that she interpreted were just for her, that were just things I do naturally. I am naturally a comforter, naturally a mediator, naturally an optimist, naturally passionate, naturally sexual, naturally considerate, and naturally sweet-talking, and so the qualities that she “felt” were those that guaranteed her place and space in my life were just “par for the course”, it was not special or especially for her, it was just who I am. She had qualities like this that I admired (and interpreted for me) as well. She was so nurturing and caring, so attentive and inquisitive, so sexual and interested into my sexuality, so “open-minded” sexually, so ambitious, so “trusting” (or so it seemed) and just SO DAMN CUTE to me. These qualities were not all that we shared but they were a lot of the “anchor” traits that distracted us from really dealing or having to deal with the “real” issues. These things kept us from dealing with each other.
One night we were in the car and her pager went off. (Yeah, it was that long ago) This was no big thing, her pager going off, even as late as it was, and I didn’t have a problem with the pager or who might be calling it. But then it went off again and after about 3 minutes, again. Now at the time we were actually in the midst of a minor argument about something TOTALLY different but the pager just set off an “alert” in me and I demanded she respond to the person who was calling. She refused. Ooooooooh, why she do that! So I grabbed the pager and I called the number back from my cell phone. By the time the guy answered I was already “hot as fish grease” and there was probably nothing that he could say or she could not say that was going to calm down my state. When he heard my voice he grew quiet and I could tell he was about to hang up the phone. I said, “No Bruh, here she is…” And I handed her my phone. She hung the phone up. I grabbed my phone and called him RIGHT BACK! I said, “I’m sorry that she hung up on you, here she is…” And I gave her the phone. She hung up on him again. Immediately after I went into this berating, angry, frustrated dialogue towards her actions and there was not much that she should have been able to say but low and behold, she argued back. The AUDACITY! And then she said, after about 2 hours of back and forth, this:
“People cheat, they deal with it, they work it out and they stay together.”
You ever been somewhere that you didn’t belong but you’re there and the fact that you’re there is playing on your pride and ego so much so that you can’t leave or walk out because it would look “bad” or so you think and so instead of leaving you make yourself as “comfortable” as discomfort will allow but the entire time you are just there “physically” but all of your other “self” has long departed and what’s worse is that the shell of you that is in attendance has no power to fight off the environment as you need to so you find yourself, or what is left of you, becoming more a part of the “situation” than you would condone even becoming a “leader” of the pack in terms of “owning” the nonsense, habits and traits, and even beginning to defend the stupidity and ignorance that YOU KNOW this situation or place is but by this time you’re invested, at least in “time served” and that selfishness, of not wanting to walk away “empty handed” is corroding the quality of the value that you once “thought” you had?
Yea, that’s what I felt like right then.
And she followed that bizarre statement with, “I love you.”
I’ll forward past the years and time spent after this because the point is that I stayed. Why or how I stayed is irrelevant to this particular message but I stayed. I give this part of the story as background for what I am about to say now.
Now is about the meaning of the word and what “that” word means to YOU.
Love, by definition, means:
(According to the dictionary)
An intense feeling of deep affection: “their love for their country”.
Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone): “do you love me?”.
When we most often talk or think about love it is almost always in a more “complete” and specifics driven definition than the above definition gives. Love from our general understanding requires pages upon pages to detail the “all” that it encompasses. Love is a “trickling effect” type of word that is small in stature but is BIG in statute. It means so much. It represents that much more.
Love to me:
The woman that I was with back then, who is still a friend of mine and very much in agreement with my viewpoint and recollection of our time together, had a very “different” idea and definition of what “love” was. What I learned from her life “before me” I didn’t really understand until “after us”. Her experiences and dealings with “what love represents” caused a train reaction and subsequent mindset towards how to deal with men. Her mother and aunts had illustrated to her and the other younger women in her family that men were not to be trusted and monogamy was no requirement for “relationships” to work, that sex is a tool used in every negotiation of a relationship, that expressing your true feelings is a “deal breaker”, and that communication is best handled via the power of sex. Love to her was sex. When she said, “I love you”, it meant, “You can have my body”. Because a lot of men reciprocate being given sex with conformity and generosity, she had experienced and witnessed this phenomenon work. So “love” to her meant “sex” and because “sex” had most times meant “cooperation” and/or personal “power” or gain of some sort, “love” meant relationship. But because of what she had been taught via the generational doctrine that had been passed down to her, love didn’t require honesty, trust, loyalty, or many other NECESSARY qualities to facilitate POSITIVE benefits of an AUTHENTIC and TRUE representation of LOVE. When she said to me that people cheat and they get over it, it was because she had seen that example. She had seen that example, if not work “properly”, work out at least to the extent that from it their family was formed. So in “bad” was “good” and some are reluctant to separate these components for fear of destroying a “foundation ” that is all they know. Tragic.
And I learned from this what the word love “meant” to me.
I was taught secrets. I was shown privacy. I was given the idea that love meant power and control. I too was shown that sex was the major component of “loving” someone. I even saw this twisted concept intertwined in familial relationships. This is where the dark secrets of molestation and inbreeding that pervert our families fester. I had been exposed to some of these perversions, a victim even. And these things were followed by, “love”. I was NEVER given the example of a man and woman, as husband and wife, living cohesively as a family. NOT ONE IN MY FAMILY, immediate nor close. But what I was shown, was always somehow categorized as some type of love. Whether it was boyfriend/girlfriend, abused, manipulated, “comfortable”, “expected”, and so on. Love was the secret of homosexuality that I witnessed as a child but was not taught about. It was the “excuse” given to justify why two people (of the same sex) spent so much time behind closed doors. I had questions about that but I was told that the “love” of GOD encompassed an understanding that I may not “understand” at that time. Confusing enough for a child, huh? The only “married” men I knew of in my family were the ones who had babies with women in my family but stayed with their wives. But I always heard love somewhere in the telling of these truths. So love for me became questions and misinformation and lies and manipulation and audacity and acceptance (primarily of bullshit and lies) and secrets. The crazy part is that I saw homosexuality as a better visual, in terms of example, of what love was supposed to be. The gay people that I grew up seeing had stuck together and had friends and showed emotion and affection and trusted one another. As I grew up that confused me. I’ve never understood how or why someone would be gay, but I’ve always had a comfort with people who were.
(For the idiots that will somehow get out of this writing that I am or was gay or this is my coming out, NO I AM NOT GAY, I HAVE NEVER BEEN GAY NOR HAVE I EVER BEEN INVOLVED IN ANY HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP OR SEX ACT. I was proof reading this blog with a friend of mine who writes and when I got to this part he says, “Man, I thought you was about to come out.” He had a straight face. I could only laugh.)
I am telling all of this stuff because of what I used to think “love” was.
My mother loved me. I LOVED my mother. My mother was murdered when I was 15 years old and I discovered her body on Monday, March 28, 1994. After her murder, I went into a depression and desperation that had lasted for almost 2 decades. So many things that I felt and held onto (as ideas and mind sets) are the causation of the core deficiencies that my character suffered from.
And I am about to explain a little of it…
A couple of years after my mother was murdered I was told that she was gay. (This statement has/had not been confirmed by anyone relevant but it was whispered and submitted into the atmosphere.) I was even told by the authorities that investigated her death that they suspected a “relationship” of a lesbian nature had played a role in the circumstances leading to her death. I was also told by members and even clergy of the church that we grew up in, that had withdrew their support and presence from our lives subsequent to her death, that they had not much “experience” in the circumstances of our situation and that the lifestyle choices my mom had made even more complicated their ability to “stand in front of” the issue. And some friends and family members offered commentary that promoted the non-fiction of these reverberations as well. Me, at the time, I vigorously denied that any of it could be true. I loved my mom and she loved me and she should have told me if something like that was true. But here I was at 15 trying to defend the story that “I thought I knew” that was behind the story others “saw” and even some allegedly knew more about. But no clarity, no closure. Instead there were just more questions.
Because some of the things I dealt with immediately after her death deserve blogs on their own, I’m not going to venture off topic too much. I’m just going to release in this moment things that have to do with this.
The depression that I had endured for a very long time after my moms death really hinged on one thing. I felt betrayed. I felt betrayed because of trust. I had trusted because of care. I cared because of “love”. Love was a lie.
Everything that I said before now was just a snapshot of the bigger picture that has been my understanding of the word love. I had to mention the things as I did because they represent the catalyst that formed the impression that “love” imprinted upon me. The “dark” truth about it is nevertheless the only truth that will produce the light that leads me out of the states and situations that dog my ability to move on. The crazy part is that I used the word love so frequently and with such ease for a very long time. I said the word and it was accompanied by all of the passion and poise and pain that once permeated my conceptualization of its meaning. So when I said the word, with all of those other things as a backdrop, it was felt. It came off as genuine because it was the truth, based on facts as I knew them, formed from events and emotions that led me to that conclusion. But it was a lie. The lie was that most times my “definition” of the word was not how the other people that I was using it with or in regard to had identified love, instead they defined it an entirely different way. Like the relationship that I was in, my definition of love and her definition of love, though both il- informed and totally dysfunctional, were just not the same and neither of us at that time had the wherewithal to learn a new meaning or submit to our partners interpretation of it.
Where did this get me?
At some point my subconscious and psyche developed this mechanism for dealing with love as it was defined by me. So the words love or trust or care or feel all became “triggers” for me to revert to the parts of me that found it more feasible to play out the dark elements of my personal definition of these words and to almost mimic the events that I had observed, though painfully, from my past. So love and trust primarily become the words that prompted me to withdraw and question and second-guess and doubt which then led to manipulation, lies, and deceit. I knew love as confusing as so it confused my being even when there was nothing available to frustrate. I’ve had the “perfect” situation many times over, in business, personally, and spiritually, but I ruined it because I deemed it something other than what it was. That alienated me from my friends and my family and really played a part in altering my future, as was the reality that I’ve lost and gained, good and bad, with no consistency.
Until I walked by the bathroom mirror about a year ago and there, totally naked, I said to the person that I saw, I love you.
This has been a very long journey for me. In this journey I have been exposed to myself with unadulterated measure. Having to examine MY definition of love, the definition that I was taught, the biblical definition, the societal definition, the barbershop definition, the media’s definition, the musical definition and take into account the varying definitions based on EACH & EVERYONE ELSE’S interpretation of each one of these definitions! Yea, that’s a whole lot to chew on. But I was asked once, “How do you eat an elephant?”…
One bite at a time.
And I now know what that means.
©Cornelious M. Flowers III