Love is expressed in many ways, but only sometimes is it portrayed in the purest manner. How some people show love to others is detrimental and damaging. For many, if we do not take the time or have the chance to change, we adopt the forms of love that we received ourselves.
I know a girl. Her father never talked in detail about his childhood, but she always assumed it had an influence on why he was who he was. He wanted the best for her. He wanted her to succeed. To not make the same mistakes he did. But he was strict, mean, and abusive. He used manipulation tactics to get his point across. He thought his “tough love” would benefit her in the long run to make the right choices. But manipulation is not love. He may want the best for her, but he utilized tactics to establish power, dominance, and control. Whether it be conscious or unconscious, that is not love. But to him it was. It was the only way he felt able to show love. But he failed to acknowledge that he was only mimicking the detrimental love he himself received. Instead, he made excuses.
A healthy person would not hesitate to dismiss this expression as one of love. But to the father, that is exactly what it was. As someone who is a strong advocate of love and its power, I feel crazy saying that love is not a term that should be spread so openly. It allows for people to warp the embodiment of it so drastically that it strays from its essence and is instead portrayed dangerously or harmfully. And then it is called love. I lay out this scenario to explain just how fluid this term is in some people’s eyes. This portrayal of love is the result of weak character, which is not uncommon. Many of us deal with trauma, mental illness, or insecurities, and they affect every aspect of us. Including the way we show love.
Obviously, not all embodiments of love are abusive.
Some embodiments are the results of unfortunate circumstances–presented as forms of love that did not have the chance to blossom.
There are parents who work their hardest to sacrifice and provide for their children. But they stress. And the yell. And they take it out on their children. They never have time to spend with them. Their children don’t understand, and they don’t feel loved.
There are embodiments that mimic love, but instead represent only a semblance of it, lacking the needed components.
A father hounds his child to do well in school–instilling immense amounts of pressure to be at the top of their class. All he wants is the best for them. That is his idea of love. But it is not enough for the child.
Many embodiments of love are sustainable in their own way.
I know a grandmother whose love is translated through ensuring her children and grandchildren are always financially comfortable and have enough food to eat. It is healthy, and it is enough.
There are siblings who love each other dearly, but never say it. There is an implicit knowing of the love that runs deeply between them.
I always thought love to be the driving factor of peace and harmony. But it would be ignorant to say that love is all the world needs. Not with the long history of institutionalized oppression, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and every other plague the world has faced. While these are all driven by hatred, which is merely the opposite of love, to simply assume love is the answer would disregard the existing damage and the work needed to fix it. While I do still believe that there is a power within love to advance healing, this take would also suggest that we are all capable of expressing love in its truest and healthiest form.
To love someone, to have love for someone, and to simply have love, are all different. There are people in my life that I love and show that through actions and words. There are people that I am not as close with, but have love for. I do believe having love for others is healing and necessary, but because I do not believe that conditional love is true love, instead rather a precursor, I do not claim to love everyone. But, to simply have or be love refers to the essence of it. Love is something I believe is innate within us all. Even with this innateness, there exists subjectivity in love. In that sense, love is both subjective and objective. Objective in its chemical makeup in the brain, its existence within the soul, and in its undeniable key components. But subjective in the sense that we all have different ideas and practices of love. Atheists, theists, conservatives, and liberals alike, all have their own ideas of love. However, many of us do not connect to the love already within us and instead search and try to attain it in other manners. When we do this, we often expand the subjectivity of the concept of love, allowing room for digression into harmful portrayals.
This post is not one to tell you what love truly is or is not, but rather to emphasize that we all have taken to writing our own definition. I write about unideal forms of love to represent the many forms that it takes when it is not connected to as it should be. There are people in my life who have loved me in their own way, but in a way that has caused me pain. I struggled with that for a long time and sometimes still do. But I am beginning to understand that that is what they believe love is. I do not excuse or justify unjustifiable actions, and I never will. And I do not forgive if I am not ready or do not want to, but I try to understand. I have always been a highly empathic person so understanding even the darkest of things is something I am able to do without excusing actions of others. While I recognize that this is not the case for everyone, understanding helps to bring me a sense of closure and peace so that I may move on. I hope this wasn’t too difficult to follow. Thanks for reading</3