I love, pun intended, this quote.
“Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love, but in reality love is the only thing in this world that covers up all pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing in this world that does not hurt.”
― Meša Selimović
As odd as it might sound I just saw this for the first time a few days ago. It’s been on my mind. As I am wont to do I questioned the statement, its obvious conclusions, and the implied meaning. After a bit I went searching for the quote and perused some of the comments on various sites. Apparently there are not a few shallow thinkers out their and I suspect the deeper thinkers just keep thier thoughts to themselves. I like to think I’m an extroverted deep thinker so I’m going to offer some thoughts.
“Everyone says love hurts,...” This is not true in absolute terms but I accept the meaning in that most people would off the cuff agree. I think in times gone by, before so much information was readily available, that this statement would have been less true. Now, in the age of lazy thinking too many would just agree and be done with it. And, I agree it “is not true.”
Loneliness hurts. One of the most fundamental attributes that makes a thing alive is the ability to replicate. The need to reproduce is so deeply ingrained that life and limb are often risked to succeed in the act. Nature has taken an innumerable range of actions to create environments where living things can procreate. At the apex of living things we humans exist. We are at the apex simply because, as far as we know, we are the only living things that recognize, realize, and are aware of the world around us. “I think therefore I am” is not just a cute quote. This awareness instills a deep need to congregate or seek out companship. This, combined reproduction imperative with the need for companionship can be a source of loneliness. The drive for companionship and to reproduce ourselves is at times at war with our personal desires to avoid the trial and tribulations that come with interacting with others. This awareness or intellect convinces us we should avoid these trials and this dichotomy leads to an emotional and mental dissonance we call loneliness. The inherent challenge arises from the need to actually communicate with another aware person. This kind of communication includes the need to compromise and adapt.
“Rejection hurts.” This rejection damages our sense of worth. Someone in whom we have invested even a small amount of emotional energy, turning away from the offering we are making, decreases faith in ourselves, in our decisions, in others in general. When the emotional investment is high the pain of rejection is higher. Rejection also decreases trust; another source of loneliness. Rejection is an intentional act which complicates our ability to heal from the pain.
“Losing someone hurts” This is a type of rejection, but lacks intent. It is not just someone dying, but includes loss by circumstances and is colored by a lack of control over the circumstances. The hurt from losing someone can be as intense as any other when the conditions are beyond our control.
I joined the US Navy when I was 17 years old. I was “seeing” a woman six years older, married, who lived across the street. Barbara was beautiful. She’d asked me to make something and when I delivered it I made a very cautious overture. When I took the money I took her hand. She apparently was flattered by the attention and invited me over to listen to Jose Feliciano, I was learning to play guitar. I was so inexperienced, it was embarrassing. I had no idea what was going on. I just know I very much liked her company. Eventually the relationship got serious physically and for me emotionally. The situation grated on my weak moral foundations and after some time I realized I had to end it. Joining the Navy was my way of creating a situation or condition that resulted in separation. It is now 47 years later and the pain of the that separation is still in me. I’ve learned to tolerate it, but it’s still there. She was the first person I lost. She was not the last person I lost due to circumstances out of my control. My next relationship was also fraught with pain of both rejection and loss. I was making submarine patrols which required me to be out of touch for a couple of months at a time. My “girlfriend’s” pain from loneliness was more than she could bear so she sought out the company of others. This resulted in rejection on my part. This pain was intensely different. In all the relationships that I have experienced which ended, only finding love from another healed the pain.
Love is not the thing that hurts. The bandage did NOT cause the injury. The airbag did NOT cause the collision. It is the lack of love and its companionship, it is having loved ripped away by someone, and it is the loss of companionship when someone leaves that hurts. The pain comes from the intense emotional dissonance created when our trust and love are denied, rejected or lost. When our emotional expectations cannot be met by the unfolding circumstances we feel disconnected as mental and physical pain. They say that time heals all wounds. But it isn’t time that heals, it is the replacement of that which was lost. And this takes time.
It takes time to grow accustomed to the change in circumstance. It takes time for the emotional storm to calm. It takes time for our mental and emotional capabilities to grow with the new experience. And it SHOULD take time for this to happen before seeking the balm of love from another.
Envy hurts. I left this until now because the others hurts are inflicted upon us. This one we do to ourselves. But, I’m going to let you ponder on this one.
Gould’s Rule 6 states: In all things leave people better than you find them.
Sometimes we have no choice but to cause hurt. Be thoughtful, careful with the feelings of others as well as yourself. Endeavor to never get in a situation where you may have to reject someone. It’s hard, do it anyway. Be careful, thoughtful, when getting involved with someone and don’t let the relationship deepen too much if you sense the relationship should end. Think before you act. Act with compassion.
For more on my rules here they are. Shameless plug.
Rule 1. What goes around, comes around.
Rule 2. It doesn’t matter what others do with the Gospel. It only matters what I do.
Rule 3. The level of concern for my problem is inversely proportional to the square of the distance of the person who can solve my problem. (Build relationships)
Rule 4. Life’s not fair, get over it.
Rule 5. Life is short and then you die.
Rule 6. In all things leave people better than you find them.
Find DE Gould’s book “Rules for a Meaningful Life” on Amazon.