Big Love

December 11, 2011

There is love, and there is Love. Let’s call them little love and Big Love.

Little love is easy to find, have, and feel. Big Love is not as easy.

We all have little love. We feel it toward many things in life: people, animals, experiences, sensations, feelings, movies, foods, music, ideas, and so on. When we talk about “love,” we usually talk about little love.

Romantic love is little love. (“Big” little love?)

We feel little love when something from outside ourselves fills a hole within ourselves. Little love makes us feel better.

Little love comes and goes. Sometimes it comes back. Maybe many times. But when it leaves we have that hole again, which we then seek to fill again with some other object of little love, which can be quite different from the object we lost.

Because little love fills a hole within us, it causes us to identify with the object of our love. We mistakenly see it, or him, or her, as a part of ourselves. Then we seek to control it, or him, or her, as we would control ourselves. Thus, little love, left on its own, tends to lead to control.

That is a Big Mistake.

Big Love is more elusive, but less fleeting. Its most common expression is a probably a mother’s love for her child. Another common expression is a wife’s love for her husband. But either of these relationships can be little love, not Big Love. Any relationship can be little love, and most of them probably are, for most people.

Big Love is unconditional love. It does not depend on outside circumstances. It does not come and go. It is, patiently. Big Love can be hidden, for a while, underneath wrong thoughts and negative emotion (in fact, this is the state of most of us!), until we get rid of the wrong thoughts and negative emotion somehow.

We all carry Big Love inside, near our core, but most of us have lost view of it underneath a pile of junk.

Romantic love is a great way to get rid of wrong thoughts and negative emotion, so that we can grow into Big Love—if we and our partners are strong enough to handle the process! Parenthood is another way (if we—and our little ones—can handle the process!).

Little love seeks to fill oneself; Big Love seeks to share with another. Little love clings. Big Love lets go. Little love wants what’s best “for me.” Big Love wants what’s best.

Little love can lead to Big Love, with a little patience, understanding—and balls. It’s not easy to let go of what you treasure, or to risk opening the gaping hole in yourself to loss (again). The reason why we have holes in the first place is because of losses we experienced in the past.

Big Love can heal us from those losses. In fact, Big Love is the state of being healed from loss (which then leads to more healing, in ourselves and in others). Big Love is the result of freedom: freedom from the fear of loss, freedom to choose where to bestow the Big Love we carry within us.

We must be free before we can Love.

Freedom is self-determination. Freedom is the ability to choose how we live. Freedom is power. We do not have to be alone to be free, though! Like Big Love, freedom is an interior condition.

Big Love flows from within ourselves, outward to the world, and we bestow it wherever we choose. Little love sucks outer things inward and tries to draw them from the world into itself.

This is not to say that little love is wrong; it’s better than hurting all the time. But how much better it is to heal the holes that make us love, so that we can Love!

(written in 2008)

Healing in Relationships

December 10, 2011

We are all broken by the time we start to seek partners. Real love heals us, and it grows as we heal. Maybe the trick to romantic relationships is finding someone who understands this, who will stay in the trenches with you as you both fight and kill your own demons with each other’s help. Maybe a true partner is our “wing man” in our struggle to heal ourselves, which is our life’s work.

In my experience, there are many hurts that we can only heal with a partner’s help. I think a lot of conflict in relationships is “just” one partner becoming aware of a problem (an unresolved hurt) in the other and making the other aware of it through the mirror of relationship, while the other’s ego reacts in self-defense.

After the conflict, with that particular battlefield clear, when the healing is done, maybe we can go about enjoying a deeper love and connection than we enjoyed together at the beginning, when we chose each other—before our inner battles became shared, when new love was easy.

Maybe this happens in steps, again and again, over a long time together, until all our hurts are healed together—both the past ones and the ones that happen along the way.

Not all old couples are just living out their marriage contract. There’s something powerful there, in being with someone who knows you thoroughly, scars and all. But to get there I think there are some uphill battles to fight along the way. That’s where commitment comes in. To me, commitment is faith—faith in yourself, in the other, and in the togetherness you share.

I think we only find what we’re really after when we see and accept each other’s pain and ugliness, and resolve to accept each other completely in spite of it. We can’t do that if we try to find a mate who is already perfect when we are not.

Nobody is.

(written in 2008)

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