Love of dance -- or anything that is a deep part of you -- is an essential aspect of your being. No one has to force you to do it. Dancers dance because they have to. Writers write because they feel compelled to. Painters paint because there is no other choice for them. Actually, all people are compelled to express what’s closest to their heart.
Even though I love dance, I still have to accept that there are things I just can’t do. You know, like the tumbling stuff—flips and spectacularly high leaps. I can let that go and just do what feels right. But I’ll never stop, because dance, for me, is a truth.
Love is like that. Sometimes we just have to accept that it doesn’t look the way we would wish (or dream) but it’s the best we can do. We can only do what we can do.
It’s not like we can decide to love (or not love) certain people -- like our parents or our children. We just do. There is no choice. And if there were a choice, would we continue to choose love?
I think so.
Because love is the truth.
Where there is difficult love, we always seem to cherish hope, whether we are conscious of it or not.
I often think (and have had the experience) that a roller coaster of conditional on-again-off-again love and abuse is almost worse than abuse you can count on.
I have a friend who cannot wrap his brain around the fact of his mother’s dementia. She was not a good mother. He experienced alternating love and abuse. Even now he so wants to believe that she can improve. Part of him, after so many decades of the same experience, knows that is not possible, especially now. But there is a part of him that is still hoping. He still loves her, no matter what abuse he had to put up with because there were good times, too. And that’s what we all hold onto. The promise that the bad stuff will go away and what we know is in there, will rise to the surface.
When water-deprived rats are placed in Skinner boxes, they learn that every time they push a lever, they’ll get water. Experimenters put the rats on different schedules, too. Sometimes water is dispensed only after 10 pushes on the lever, for instance. After a while, the experimenters stop the water in order to “extinguish” the rat’s behavior. The rat stops pushing the lever when he realizes that the water is no longer coming. This means the rat’s behavior has reached “extinction.” The most difficult schedule to extinguish is when the water comes out randomly—after 2 pushes, then after 18, then after 5, and so on. The rat just keeps trying because it cannot anticipate when the water’s coming—that rat just keeps trying and hoping.
Much like my friend hoping for maternal love. Or myself in past relationships that were emotionally abusive —you keep going back because you know the love is there. You’ve experienced it before, so it must be real. There must be more, right?
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you stop loving yourself—and abuse is incompatible with real love.
But is love ever completely extinguished for a difficult loved one?
I don’t think so. I think it is beyond our power. But that is a good thing.
It is possible to love even as you disengage from abuse.
You dance, write, create because you have to.
You love because there really is no other choice.