“And you became like coffee,
In its deliciousness, its bitterness and its addiction”
وتشابهت أنت وقهوتى فى اللذة والمرارة والإدمان
Mahmoud Darwish – Palestinian poet
I’m tempted to talk about how this is not a love quote, but it is. I’m tempted to talk about how “real love” is not supposed to harbour toxic codependency, addiction and despondency and is smooth when you find the right person, but that’s a load of crap. Nothing in life comes easy.
Love is one of the most simple but misunderstood feelings we feel. Love is something that is engraved in our emotional fabric, but can be something that destroys us if we don’t learn about our relationship with it. We learn to love through our experiences. We lean towards what is familiar, even if it’s painful, it’s what we know.
The way we love is a mirror of our experiences throughout our lives and how we handle them.
Me? I recently realised that I feel loved when people allow me to prove myself to them. I set myself to a standard that I don’t set others to because to me, asking someone to prove being worthy of love is painful. Yet, because it’s what I know – being loved because of my credentials – without realising, I allow people to love me this way.
In my mind, it’s foreign for someone to love me simply because I’m an awesome person. I realised this days ago when I was in the shower. It was a strange revelation, but one I needed to admit to myself.
If someone downplays my career, I don’t get offended if I care for you. I actually feel the need to justify myself and feel satisfied when my justification is accepted.
This revelation took me back to all of the things I knew about love. That love is not supposed to hurt, that love is patient and it’s allowed to make mistakes. I forgive people, but I hardly ever forgive myself. I carry resentment from the actions of my past and forgive people their role when in reality, I should forgive myself before I forgive the other person.
False love-hate paradigms
I’m sure we’ve heard “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”. It’s true. We love and hate with the same amount of energy. To add an extra layer, this means indifference is the opposite of both love and hate.
Therefore, we need to manage ourselves not based on the emotions we feel, but based on the energy we invest.
This is why after a disappointment of some sort, our emotions are everywhere. We focus too much on regulating our emotions when it’s really the energy we should be keeping an eye on. We go through hoops of emotions with the same amount of intensity, punishing ourselves for feeling a certain way and fearing feeling the opposite.
No matter what, no feeling we have is invalid. This is because first and foremost: we’re human. It’s also because we can view the same situation in many ways – it’s only our mood that is shaping our interpretation at that time.
But the more energy we put into an emotion, the more intense the feeling is. When you feel a huge rush of sadness, know it isn’t the sadness that is overtaking you, it’s the energy within you that has manifested itself into sadness.
Accept that a part of you is sad about the situation. Accept that you’re allowed to feel sad. But be careful with the amount of energy you put into the sadness. It’s amazing because the less you fight your sadness, the less energy you put into your sadness and the less overwhelming the sadness gets.
I’m still upset about a certain situation that I was subjected to, but for the most part, I put all of my energy in thanking God for the experience, because I know if I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t have understood how important my boundaries are.
It’s something that even though I’ve moved on from, but I sometimes still shed a tear when I remember. I cry less often and the cries are less intense, but I still cry. I cry when I remember. Crying is healthy. Emotions are healthy.
The thing that’s stopping me from crying now that didn’t stop me then? Time is healing me, which is evident from the amount of energy I’m putting into my thoughts and feelings. I get a slight tug at the heart, to which I say a prayer for the person and myself (I like to think God is reminding me of this person because they’re in need of prayer) and I go back to what I was doing.
I allow myself to feel how I feel, but I don’t put energy into my feelings. I don’t try to not put energy, I’m just moving on. But for those who need to remove energy from their feelings, take your energy somewhere else. But make sure you take it somewhere healthy.
I did this naturally as I moved on and realised God’s will was more powerful than mine and his plan was wiser than mine; but if I knew this a few months ago, I wouldn’t have blocked my feelings until I broke down and cried myself to sleep until I was out of breath, I would have allowed myself to feel the feelings and would have utilised my energy elsewhere.
Focus on what you deserve
The Qur’an explicitly tells us that we may love something that is bad for us and we may hate something that is good for you. Yes, a lot of faith in God’s decree is needed, but one of the ways to understand it is by focusing on what you deserve.
If you know you deserve someone who trusts you, then remind yourself of that. If you know you deserve someone who will want to work things out, remember that. If you know you deserve an employer who appreciates you, keep that in mind.
Attachment isn’t bad. Neither is love. It’s okay to feel and question. Loving something “bad” doesn’t make you a bad person, same with loving something “good”. It’s all about the way you love that becomes a mirror to your being and exposes your soul.