I have been thinking a lot about love lately, as evidenced by my last couple of posts. I have been thinking about how conventional models of love are so limited and strained. I am expected to love the people who created me and raised me because our blood ties act as a magic elixir of love that trumps everything. I am expected to love my husband because he is my husband and heterosexual romantic love is right and normal and true. We have committed to spending the rest of our lives together because we love each other.
So much of our culture, great literature, television, music etc.. is tied up with love, but more often than not that love is a narrow love, it is either familial or romantic and there is nothing in between. I think of love as existing far beyond these two constraints. Love to me is the feeling I have for my friends, love is the feeling I have for myself most of the time. Love is more than blood or sex, love is about connection, compassion ,truth and vulnerability. My love is expansive, it is more than a feeling, it is a philosophy.
Audre Lorde in ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power’ says:
“The erotic functions for me in several ways, and the first is in
providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit
with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical,
emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the
sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what
is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their
In this essay Lorde uses ‘the erotic’ as a short hand to describe a world view that operates from the inside out. It is a philosophy that prioritises emotion, connection and understanding over capitalist exploitative models of being. I think that such a way of living is deeply powerful. It speaks to creating depth within every aspect of our lives, not just in relationships but in every thing we do. Obviously this is not possible for every human being, but it is something that I think is worthy of my aspirations. Many contemporary societies are caught up in policing the boundaries of love, deciding what constitutes meaningful love, how love should be expressed. It seems as though we have to be careful with how we dole out love because being too free with it will demean it’s worth. That saddens me. I do not think that loving more makes love worth less. Love is something that grows and transforms as we express it.
Over the last few years I have striven to live my life honestly and openly and from a place of love. This has meant a dismantling of the barriers that I had put in place to preserve my self in difficult circumstances. It has meant repeatedly feeling like an exposed nerve, and sometimes being disappointed by people who have not loved me back in the way I hoped. I am certainly not perfect, I am still frequently emotionally defensive and can get caught up in competition, but I know that is not where I want to be. I have a vision for my life and centering an expansive concept of love is a big part of that. In learning how to love more and how to love better I have had to sit with my emotions. It has meant doing hard work in in figuring out why I feel certain ways and what is a reaction to present circumstances and what is a reaction to past trauma or a learned pattern. Untangling my emotional life has been beneficial if painful and it has allowed me to live an love more freely.
I’m not really sure where I am going here except to say that love is important and large and shouldn’t be confined to small societally approved ways of expression. If I like you I probably love you a little bit and I’m OK with that.