The more we love, the more it hurts.
Sometimes the hurt is good, when all is well, when the object of our love is with us and loves us in return. We get that full feeling in our heart and a sweet ache that makes us feel as if we will burst. In those moments, we hold our love close to us, appreciating them for simply being who they are, for being part of our lives, for their faithfulness and dependability. We capture that little moment of time and commit it to memory, realizing it doesn’t get any better than this. There is nothing more precious in life. Nothing that could make our world better than it is right then, with the one we love, because we are not alone. They are with us. And that makes everything right somehow.
Sometimes the hurt is wrenching. Unbearable. When the one we love dies. When they are unfaithful. When they betray us; betray our love and confidence in them. When they leave us, throwing us away as if we are of no consequence. At those times, we doubt life will ever be worth living. The pain threatens to explode our heart. Our tears flow in spite of all efforts to contain them. The agony shows in our eyes, even if we paste a smile on our face. Everything that mattered, that made life worth living, has been taken from us in a moment and there is nothing we can do to fix what has been destroyed. No amount of praying or working will bring restoration. Now, our good memories wound us. All the wonderful times we spent together are daggers plunged into our gut. We don’t want to remember because it’s an excruciating reminder of how much we have lost. They are no longer with us. It feels as if nothing will ever be right again.
The more we love, the more joy we feel and the more despair we experience when it’s over. The more we love, the more it hurts when that love is no more.
I know this from experience. I have loved deeply and intensely. Loved and paid the price.
I loved my father. When I was a young child, I wanted to be like him. I refused to wear a shirt in the summer because he didn’t wear one. I learned how to fish and could cast better than many grown men, all because my father loved to fish. When I was 4, I recited a poem to my kindergarten class entitled, “I Wish I Was a Boy” because I wanted to be a boy like my father. I thought he hung the moon and the stars. Until the abuse started. Until the “other” daddy showed his sick face. That father was not a daddy. That father was frightening and cold. He hit and molested and exploded without warning. He used the belt, buckle end first, to spank. He used his fists to hit. He lashed out with a fierce fury. He was sneaky and quivery and horrible when he took what he wanted and did what he wanted sexually. I was suddenly afraid. I didn’t want to be like him any longer. I tried to avoid him. Kept my head down when I couldn’t. Tried to go unnoticed. The love I had for him hurt horribly. At first, it was a wonderful hurt because I thought he was the best daddy in the world. But sometime during the year I turned 4 or 5, I realized the real daddy was evil and he hid behind a mask. The mask was the daddy I thought was mine, but it was only a facade. That’s when love started to hurt like a gaping wound, raw and ferocious. I lost my daddy that year. And the pain was unbearable.
I loved my first husband. He was only 18 when we married; I was 17. But he was more man than boy, at least in appearance. Maybe not so much in maturity. He was a hippie, like me, with long hair, a full beard, and he was taller than most men. I liked tall guys. He was a talented musician who wrote songs, occasionally about me, and made me feel special and wanted. Until we married. Then he didn’t want me anymore. I remember vividly as we were driving to the hotel where we were going to spend our honeymoon how a sense of dread began to creep over me. A knowledge that he had suddenly decided he had made a grave mistake and wanted out. I knew then, in that moment, I shouldn’t have married him. My fear was confirmed when we went to lunch on our way to the hotel. He flirted outrageously with the waitress who was wearing short shorts and a skimpy top. A mere two weeks later, he asked me for a divorce. The love that had felt so wonderful suddenly cut me like a knife.
I loved my second husband with my whole heart. We were 25 when we married and I believed he was everything I could have ever wanted in a man. He was also tall and he was intelligent, interesting, and fun. He had a great sense of humor and knew what he wanted to do with his life. We were both Christians, so we shared a spiritual connection as well. The summer and fall we fell in love were incredibly wonderful and magical. I had never experienced anything that felt so good and I looked forward to being his wife for the rest of my life. I wrote him notes, poems, love letters. I was giddy and deliriously happy, knowing I would soon be his forever. After the ceremony, I didn’t immediately feel that nightmarish dread and fear that had overwhelmed me only an hour after my first marriage. I was relieved and grateful. I thought, this time, finally, all was right and well with the world. But two weeks later, when we loaded up all our belongings and moved to Santa Fe, NM, just as we approached the city, I felt those horrible feelings of not being wanted. I could feel what he was feeling and he didn’t want me there with him in this place where he grew up. It was as if in seeing his home town, he realized how far I was from being the ideal woman he had dreamed of during his formative years. He was ashamed of me. Embarrassed by me. He didn’t want me to be his wife.
I asked him about it later that evening and he denied it. Initially. But a month or two later, he finally acknowledged his feelings of having made a mistake. He confessed he really didn’t love me or want me. I couldn’t believe it was happening again. I loved him so much, the knife of his rejection tore deeply into my heart. I began to die that day.
The more you love, the more it hurts.
Now, I love my dogs. The people in my life are fairly distant. But my dogs have captured my heart totally and completely. There are times when I sit with them sleeping securely on my lap and I feel as if I will explode from all the love I have in my heart for them. I am overwhelmed with a desire to protect them, to keep their world safe and secure. To make them happy and keep them healthy. I want them to know they can always trust me, that I will do everything in my power to take care of them and I will give them every ounce of love I have in my soul because they are so sweet and wonderful and treasured. In those moments, I hold them close and cherish the warmth of their little bodies, the little yips they make as they dream, the way they snuggle in close and burrow their little bodies into my neck or stomach or lap. I hold those moments and burn them into my memory, almost bursting with the feelings of love I have for them. The more you love…
I know the day will come when they are no longer with me. I can barely stand the thought because even the idea brings searing pain. When they are gone, all the memories of them that I have treasured inside of me will rip me asunder. Knowing I will never feel their sleeping bodies snuggling in close, their warm breath and cold nose on my neck, their soft fur tickling my nose. I don’t know how I will survive. I don’t know if I will survive. I know I will cry tears that can’t be dried and because I love them so much, the pain of losing them will be unbearable.
The more we love, the more it hurts.
But still, it is better to love.