Saturday, 11 April 2015

Love Springs Eternal..

Spring has arrived.

The sun is shining, the flowers are bursting forth and there is a hint of green coming to the trees. Spring is a time of magic. I love all the seasons for different reasons but Spring and Summer are where I belong, where I feel most in tune with my surroundings.

From late winter when the snowdrops pop up defying the cold and bob about in the breeze I anticipate the arrival of the burst of life that Spring brings. I can feel it resonating deep inside me. It is a divine anticipation of lengthening evenings and of the rebirth of nature herself.   .

Looking out of the study window I can see the almond trees covered in pink blossom with narcissi dancing at their feet. Where there is life there is hope.

As Tennyson famously penned..

  "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love"

Spring holds so much promise, and not only for the young. The horizon screams of spring and the budding trees, tulips poking their head above the soil and thoughts of romance and love fill our hearts and minds. It is in the air, catch it, make it your own, take what is there and let life and love happen. 

Our expectations of what love can bring changes as we grow older. Our needs are different, our bodies are different. Time might not have been as kind to some as to others. That does not matter for real love sees not the effects of time but instead the benefits that time has granted through experience. Love in later life seeps through the cracks left behind by previous heartbreak. 

Romantic love is often dismissed as the years roll by, but has been described as ‘a human universal, or near universal’ and is associated with intense emotional experiences such as increased energy, euphoria, obsessive thinking about the loved one, feelings of dependency and craving. When people are ‘in love’ they may feel as if they have uncovered the very meaning of life. One feels complete and life feels whole. This can and does happen at any stage of life, but is at it's most intense when we are younger. Love lifts us up no matter what age we are, it fulfills us and gives us reason and hope for the future.

I am reminded of the following passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

"Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your root was so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two."

We all need love in our lives. If you believe yourself to be unworthy or incapable of love I urge you to think again. Love takes many forms and truly is a many splendored thing. Do not turn your back on it or deny it life. Life as survivor of childhood sexual abuse can be tough enough as it is. Frequently we feel unworthy of love, or incapable of expressing it, for a variety of reasons. Learn to F.L.Y (First Love Yourself), accept that love and allow yourself to be open to love from others. 

There are so many excuses as to why some people do not allow themselves to be in love. If the love is true, then it will survive any obstacle, time zone, distance or challenge. Love is patient..
 Spread your wings this year, fly with no fear, be all that you know you are and can be. Make it happen! Give love a chance.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (1881-1944)
‘What is REAL?’ asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. ‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’ ‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, buy REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt? Asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’  It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’ ‘I suppose you are real?’ said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse only smiled. ‘Someone made me Real,’ he said. ‘That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’

What is this thing called love?

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often do not have the same outlook on life as non-abused adults. As a child, someone they trusted hurt and manipulated them. Not understanding what was happening, but somehow 'knowing' that it was wrong, they assimilate many deviant behaviours into their understanding of 'normality'. They grow up with a different view of many of the cornerstones of inter-human relationships and interactions.
An example would be the concept of 'love'. Often the abuser will say that they love the child. The non-offending parent(s) will say they love the child. Love is then understood to be a good thing - people who love you care for you, comfort you when you are sad, give you presents on your birthday, make you feel happy etc. It is also a bad thing that leads you to get physically hurt, to become terrified at times, makes you feel embarrassed or dominated. It will include forced involvement in activities that must be shrouded in secrecy and which you will not be able terminate, avoid or have any control over. To a child being abused, this becomes what 'love' is. Upon reaching adulthood the social pressure to find a life partner to love and that loves you in return is seen as a dubious or alarming goal. The survivor may also 'love' someone else and may view this emotion in themselves as forever corrupted. Anyone who proclaims love may 'naturally' be viewed with suspicion, perhaps dread or fear, or at best with wariness. The other person's motives will always be open to speculation.
To try to grasp complex emotional concepts like love, children group experiences into simplistic extremes. Good or bad, black or white, there is no grey. They can't differentiate between one trusted adult's behaviour and that of another's. Therefore, if one trusted adult abuses them, this experience is not taken away by the non-abusive relationships they experience, it just becomes part of their understanding of 'relationship'. The child learns not that 'some adults do bad things', but that 'all trusted people can do bad things.' This includes even the child itself. Like many other aspects of their developing psychological make up, this distrust becomes an integral part of their socialised constructs - their sense of how they see themselves and others and how people relate. It is just the same as their sense of humor or ability to reason. As with these psychological traits, once it is integrated it can never be 'unlearned' or erased. It 'just is'.
In adults, this total acceptance of distorted worldviews form the basis of many survivors beliefs about their 'true selves'. These views are like coloured lenses placed on the eyes of the survivor - they see everything through them and are usually totally unaware of their existence. It forms the core of their beliefs of themselves and of how others see them. It is through these lenses that they observe others interactions with themselves. As the beliefs are tainted with shame and guilt, they promote isolationist or self-destructive behaviours (I hate myself, you have no idea what I'm 'really' like, I am unlovable, you're only being nice to me because you want something). It is common for these beliefs to go unchallenged until the survivor begins sexual assault counselling.

1 comment:

Julian said...

Very deep article about love, and I applaud you for your honest approach with this article.

Maybe it's just me, but I always suspected that bad things allowed the EGO to stumble upon 'mindfulness', and then seeing the 'oneness' in everything, thereby allowing more inner love to flourish...could be just me though. Thanks for posting


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