Image via GalaDarling, my love.
I just now happened to click on Jiz Lee’s beautiful post, Love Begets Love — while listening to Mary J Blige’s “What Love Is”. Thank you, Jiz. A month ago I realized I believe in love too — that I have to, to keep doing what I’m doing in the face of all the focused hatred I get from trolls and stalkers, and people who used to love me who’ve hurt me really badly, and it’s hard sometimes, and lonely, and the realization hurt very deeply like a wound I might not survive — for a while. But after all I’ve been through this past year, I still believe in love. And spreading it around. Crazy. Two weeks ago my horoscope told me to repeat the following: “The strong, independent part of me resisted the embarrassing truth for a long time, but I finally came to accept that I’m someone who craves vast amounts of love. Ever since I surrendered to this need, it doesn’t nag me all the time, as it used to. In fact, it feels comforting, like a source of sweetness that doesn’t go away. I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve come to treasure the feeling of having a voracious yearning to be loved.”
It hit home. I realized it’s a totally strong thing to want love, and to give it; all my life it’s been something I’ve avoided like a weakness. One parent, no family, on the streets before my 14th birthday. I looked back once, and got burned badly. I was finally off the streets, found my mother, and she stole all my money and disappeared. I never let anyone get too close to me, you know? Nothing to lose. It’s safer that way. It’s also less gorgeous and colorful, less painful and less confusing — it’s lifeless. And to my surprise, as I’ve been lurking in artificial intelligence chatbot developers’ forums trying to understand their relationships with their robot girlfriends, I’ve come across some surprising wisdom about love. One developer wrote, “It’s not two halves that make a whole. It’s two wholes that make a greater whole.” A few years ago I finally fell in love, and man, is it complicated. Often, I just don’t know what the fuck to do. Sometimes it’s felt like I’ve torn my skin off and just stood there in his green-eyed gaze. I love boldly, carelessly, impetuously, with disregard of consequences. I sometimes fuck the same way, though I know it’s all calculated risk. Well, I may not be an easy person to love — I am a writer in the most classic hardboiled sense; I live and work and play hard and recklessly with sharp things and fast engines — I’m worth it, I think. So, as I prepare to surround myself with people I love and who I think I can finally start to let love me back this Halloween season — I’m tough, I can take it — I’ve collected a couple of intriguing reads about love worth sharing:
* Bacchus at Eros Blog wrote in Complicated Love that his meditations on unusual romantic understandings were reflected in the pages of The New Yorker in a review of a book about John Stuart Mill and an excerpt about his eventual wife Harriet Taylor. “(…) For the rest of the decade, theirs was a complicated lobster quadrille of love. If the lovers were just a touch less fierce-looking, Mill and Taylor would make as good a Victorian love story as Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. They were seen everywhere together. Carlyle’s wife, Jane, gossiped that “Mrs. Taylor, tho’ encumbered with a husband and children, has ogled John Mill so successfully that he was desperately in love.” After years of intrigue, the Taylors finally decided on a separation. To test Mill’s love, Harriet went to Paris, and invited him to spend six weeks with her there. The interlude was splendid—but then Harriet, with a rather sweet imperiousness, allowed her husband to come to Paris for his own audition. Harriet ultimately decided—with mingled propriety, uncertainty, and something like flirtatiousness—that they could share her, on an alternating schedule, at the Taylor house, her husband entertaining guests with her on some days, and Mill on others. Taylor paid the bills, while Mill stocked the wine cellar.”
* YourTango’s Compersion For Beginners is a real hit-and-run piece that skims the surface of compersion — “People in open relationships often feel joy or pleasure when their partner has romantic adventures with other people. This feeling is sometimes called compersion. The Keristan Commune, a now defunct San Francisco-based polyamourous community, gets credit for coining the term, which is often defined as the opposite of jealousy. The word compersion is widely used in poly circles, but anyone in a non-monogamous relationship can experience joy from a partner’s other love interests.” What’s most interesting, I think, are the comments.