Where have I heard this before? My mother often told me when I was young that there were things about me that she could not love. She was always so matter-of-fact about it that I had to respect her honesty. But then at other times, she told me how much she loved me. I was so desperate to be loved that I tried my very best to believe her.
Just as I wanted to believe my ex.
As I struggled to hang on to that belief, my friend said, "Read this book, and then tell me who loves you." The book was All About Love by bell hooks. In it, she talks about how children are damaged when the people who love them also hurt them. This early training that love is the act of contrition after abuse trains us to see the drama of the abuse as a signal that love is forthcoming. But this is not love. Love is acting in a loving way.
In reading bell hooks's words, I am coming to the conclusion that I am already truly loved in the way I have always wanted to be loved. It does not match what the culture tells me love is. But the people who love me do so as a conscious act. They choose to love me, with all my faults and all my strengths. And I do not need to deserve it. I do not need to be lovable, because love is not about me. It is about them. It is about the will and act of loving. You cannot beg another to choose this path. You cannot seduce them into it. You cannot guilt them into it, because you cannot force another's will. The simple truth is that you will be loved when you let loving people into your life.
I realize that in all the arguing about whether my ex loved me or not, we were arguing about the wrong thing. This is not an argument of semantics. I was caught up in the need to discover her definition of love so that I could somehow understand what had happened. That is the trap. The truth is much more basic. I chose to love her. She did not choose to love me back.
I am choosing to love others. I am letting loving people into my life, people who choose to skip the abuse and go right to the love. It is not that I am lovable, but that I am wise. There is no lovable and unlovable, there is only love. And love is a verb, my friends.
- Cholla Soledad, make/shift, Spring/Summer 2011