Tuesday 15 February 2022

Thought Picnic: Letting vulnerability lead to love

No path is straight

I have shied away from reading manuals about issues that require a lot more tailoring to situations and circumstances than prescription as a panacea to an issue. Now, for instance, I take my medical prescriptions religiously, the only tailoring involved is the time of day when I take my medicine, it has to suit my life, my lifestyle, and my work, not impeding function, purpose, or energy to perform.

Then I look at things like my career, life-changing decisions, and love, none of which have followed a trajectory or even example, every path has been uniquely individual and maybe different, or where similarities can be seen, there are many other factors that challenge the premise of imitation. In many cases, other people’s lives do not follow a template of lists or processes, individuality is an often frowned upon characteristic in some cultures, deviating from a norm can lead to ostracism and hence it modulates the tendency to conform.

Mistakes as lesson notes

On the matter of love, sadly, I find no immediate example of close or distant relations of the generation before mine who have laid out a promise of anything near perfect, however, a study of their situations has informed the need and desire not to fall into the same mistakes they made.

If it is not the power dynamics of dominance and submission, controlling the means of provision, conformity to traditions, expectations and requirements of culture, transitional states of contrived convenience, imposition by reason of responsibilities especially after procreation, or infidelities condoned even in the face of humiliation and embarrassment of the other, love has had a stranger than believable meaning to the participants. In the longer term, they have separated, regretted, fought, alienated, castigated, abused, or neglected each other.

It is case of uneasy d├ętente as their offspring negotiate the minefields of animosity if they can deftly avoid becoming the grass on which the elephants get to fight to complete exhaustion and rise again to continue where they left off.

Learning what we can do

This is where much learning has to begin, in understanding what love really is and how it is manifest to us. To many, love is a strange esoteric thing, made aspirational in fairy tales that suggest living happily ever after, the fiction of an ideal rarely close to real life. We are imperfect beings seeking a more perfect relationship with those we are attracted to whilst making allowances for the fact that nothing is ever completely done, there is a process of growth and nurturing that needs committing to, for enduring fulfilment.

We probably know how to show and give love, from a place of understanding or out of making amends for bad experiences that appeared to suggest love when it never was that. The past can have damaged people irreparably that they seek succour in anything, accepting everything believing there is some sort of security even as they endure the totally untenable when they should walk, if not flee from their abuser who either knows no better or sees that flawed dynamic as the best expression of themselves.

Love is a process

In another song we are told, ‘Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.’ That is easier said than done, for knowing love, loving oneself and then getting the love you truly deserve could take a lifetime of failures and processes of elimination, the unlearning of things, the relearning of other things, along with a schooling of life with all its vicissitudes of good and bad fortune.

With our built-in survivor’s instinct, we look for ways to thrive in all areas of endeavour, a sense of independence, responsibility, self-awareness, and self-control sometimes denies you some elements of your humanity as vulnerability, weakness, infirmity, weakness, or incapacity, which are all part of the human experience. The superhuman may have many admirers but no friends or confidantes as we put ourselves outside the reach of those who can genuinely appreciate us fully and help us when our strength is not full.

Letting your vulnerability help you love

That is the more difficult part of the expression of love, knowing how to use it, knowing when to let go, appreciating when to give way or let be, and most of all being able to let yourself be loved like you should, purely, wholly, fully, unconditionally, and magnificently. You have to accept your vulnerability to be there and resist the temptation to instruct or construct barriers masquerading as understanding the depth from which love is shown to you and how it is expressed in word and in deed.

Like with nature, we need to become good fertile and watered ground in which the seeds of love can be sown to reap a bountiful harvest of the heart in full glow of a fairy tale that can only exist in the imagination of others. I can only wonder if we have the ability to rewrite our love stories when given the opportunity to work at it.

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