the way it can look to be all the way at your edge of loving and being loved
What's to be done with the love that overwhelms us? What's to be done when we overwhelm others with our love?
A short story detour
In high school I dated a poet. Many a poets I've dated, actually, but this one was not afraid to use his poetry for seduction. (Okay...let's be honest: What poet is?) I was terrified. Poets can be terrifying, distilling moments and emotionality that most of us keep locked in the closet (even us peer poets). As the subject of his poems, I felt like the front door to a haunted house within which he walked fearlessly. Where are his gasps? Where is his trembling? How could he stay this long, singing hallelujah in this damn house? Does he not see the ghosts I mention??
I broke up with him just before Christmas. I've never been good at faking love just for family affairs. But I did love him, I can tell you now. Mostly because he terrified me. Mostly because he showed me what I was terrified of in myself. Mostly because he pointed to the place where I was so utterly lost from love.
Back to you...
So what I really want to say to that person overwhelmed by an unfamiliar color of love, is to let it in, anyway, as far as you can stand it. Go hard and fast to your edge. There is no need to keep your wardrobe standard in the trying-ons of love. Let the dressing room run amok with color. Swallow down every shade that seeks to fill you up with goodness. Taste, with those tender timid buds, every hue of how you're deemed magnificent in someone else's eyes. Even the ways that taste silly or too strong or sour or bitter or overwhelmingly sweet.
The tongue that rejects not is always fed.
But if you're reading this thinking, No! Please! Don't make me eat that! I know I won't like it. I know I will want to spit it out. It is for you, and that same part of me, that I inquire, Since when did we become so choosy with the holiness we let in? Since when did we decide that we do not want to be seen for our beauty, our awe?
And to the lovers out there, crushing hard and huge... LOVE BIGGER. Go all the way. Know that you will not always get it back. Go, go, go, anyway... until every part of you shouts out, "No more!" Until your emotional equilibrium can stand it no longer.
Clearly, in these moments when we say, "No more!" we have reached an edge.
What edge, exactly? For each of us, it may vary...
One edge is the fear that we will break someone because we cannot match their love. A lie that we are indebted to a tit-for-tat reciprocity... Every person that loves us, we must love in equal measure and color. As if we could ever love the sun the same way the sun loves us. As if we could ever demonstrate the same giving as a tree that offers us air, shade, wood. Does the sun expect our love to look like its? Would not a simple, thank you, I feel you, thank you again, do?
Another hang up is that if they really love us, and we really let it in, we are acknowledging, not just intellectually--but vicerally--that we, too, have something incredible within us. That we, too, are as amazing as the trees and the sun. And to do that, is to revolutionize our lives. From a springboard of love, nothing can stay the same.
And for the givers, perhaps the edge is resentment. How much, how limitless, how unwavering must I be, before I get anything back? I'm tired. So tired. I, too, want to be held.
Our edges are real. They call for naps. But when we awake, we wake knowing that love is everlasting. Somewhere deep and dark and wonderful, we know, there's a boundlessness beneath our tired. We could still give more. We could let more in.
We are asked to come up against our edges of giving and receiving, and to soften, to rest, until we are ready and strong enough for the next brave edge.
We are asked to have new expectations... beyond measures of giving and receiving, beyond tallying up a score... we are asked to simply give what we long to give, and take in what is given to us.
But what about the tenderness? The fear? For those, we must speak to the eyes.
Those eyes...those eyes that were once unafraid, that once came into this world with a simple birthright--an exquisit expectation beneath them--to be loved unconditionally, and to give love just as freely...
I speak to those eyes that now fear their opening, after such horrendous let downs, such exquisit pain. Those eyes that now wait for someone to see them more exactly, for someone to take them in more fully, for someone to make it safe again to love. Those eyes that are now a lion's gate of warrior protection for all the love that's been battered and bruised with misunderstanding and mistreatment.
Those eyes do not have to look widely. They do not have to open all the way for just anyone. They do not have to give it all, all the time. They can continue on protecting, as they should, in this big scary world. But do not be fooled...
Underneath safe and careful, beyond material trappings, the love reaches anyway, the love slips out.
A shy peek, batted lashes--love penetrates even quieter places than these. No wounds nor shields are large enough to keep the love out. It's too late. The poems have already been written. 10,000 of them, in fact, before you were even born. You will be bitten again. Will you let yourself feel it?
And to the tired, trying biters: bite anyway, despite the way you are received. Even a nibble will make a difference. If not to the one you bite, to you own integrity, your own satisfaction of knowing you did not go 80%, you went all the way.
Love is all there really is. It is what you are made up of, by nature. It is your ultimate home, what you are asked to embody, just like in the beginning, when you had no doubt, only those wide, whole eyes--small circles of connection.
There is a notion about circles in the Lakota culture--about circles broken, and our task as humans to heal the broken links of the circles in our existence.
Go underneath, where you longing lives, where your tenderness has been kept safe, where you sit with your most natural, human desire to rest in that birthright of love. Go underneath, where the circle is still unbroken. Down, down, down, as far as you have to go to reach it. In that place, you can ask for strength, you can ask for surrender, you can ask for the courage to love again, so eternally.
You can ask, humbly. And that will be enough.
If this resonates for you, I would so love knowing how. I feel a bit like a freak writing these words. A bit over-the-top and insane. A bit like the biter, unsure if there's a place where this shade of love can really rest, land, live.
Thank you for reading, for being with me... Oh, god, it means the world.