"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
Well... shoot. The decision to be vulnerable. I think about my life and all the things/people I love, have loved, will love, and I have recently come to the startling realization that loving is hard. You love, and you risk. I love, and I get hurt sometimes. It's just what happens. But I mean, Pat Benetar warned us, did she not? Love is a battlefield. (How much do you love that I quoted C.S. Lewis and Pat Benetar all at once? Epic.)
Risky business though it is, it seems to me that it is far scarier to not love than it is to risk, love, and maybe occasionally be hurt. And losing love and being hurt is really freaking hard. In loving we risk loss, we risk disappointment, we risk rejection, we risk the heart-wrenching feeling of watching another person suffer and being helpless to assist. It is occasionally an appealing thought that I could just, if I wanted, say no. I could choose not to invest, not to care, not to do any of it. I could say, "You are scary. I will not love you even though it's what my heart wants, because you terrify me. You could hurt me, but I won't let you. HA! Suckaaaa!" If I don't do it, I'm safe. I'm unhurtable. I'm 100% unvulnerable. Unwringable and unbreakable. And since vulnerability scares the hey-ho out of me, that sounds kind of awesome 85% of the time.
But I don't want that, really. So I try on love. And to love means to risk the awfulness when something bad happens. It means to risk the hurt that comes with my not being able to protect another person from hurt. It means to hurt and be hurt and forgive and be forgiven because I love them too much not to. It means to sometimes cry in a counseling session with a kid even thought it's maybe not the most professional option. It means to cry sometimes just because I know what you're all going through. It means to hurt and grieve right alongside people and hold their hands even when I might need someone to hold mine, too. It sometimes means to let someone do these things for and with me, even when it seems like letting them is the actual scariest thing in the world.
I talked to a friend the other night whose heart is broken and wrenched right now. I have felt the same way, all too recently, and I had very little to offer my friend in the way of comfort or good advice. And in spite of the fact that I hardly know what to say when the people I love get to this place, I love them. They love, I love, and we are wrenched, and I have to believe at the end of the day, it's worth it. That loving each other is a great, wonderful privilege - something we just cannot let ourselves give up no matter how appealing the option looks in the thick of despair.
It's kind of exciting, if you think about it. I mean, exciting in an I-might-pee-my-pants-at-any-given-moment kind of way, but exciting, nonetheless.
"heartache to heartache, we stand..." Preach it, Pat.