Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Opposite of Love

I'm going for weekly posts. And, if I'm feeling extra creative, maybe more than once per week. Let's hope I can keep it up. You know consistency is one of my biggest challenges. But, I'm workin on it...

There’s a thin line between love and hate. At least that’s what the old folks say. Before today, I had always thought of that saying as just a figure of speech. But, very quickly, I learned that – like most figures of speech when you break them down – there’s a lot of truth behind those words.

Yesterday I experienced a flash of such pure hatred that it was almost scary. Ok, a little background on hate. Hate is not the opposite of love. Love is fiery and passionate and, therefore, the OPPOSITE of that is indifference. Indifference is when you just don’t care about whatever you are considering. Hate, on the other hand, which is often mistakenly cited as the opposite of love, is also fiery and passionate. Sometimes, you can hate a person or a thing with so much fervor that it causes you to feel high. You become lightheaded, your heart beats a little faster, you might even sweat, or blush if your skin is light enough. These are also physical responses to love. Actually, though your mind is keenly aware of that which you love and that which you hate, I wonder if your body even knows the difference.

But I digress.

As I was saying, yesterday, I was having a heated conversation via instant message with MBF and – it wasn’t the first time, but it was certainly the time that I felt it with the most intensity – for a split second I hated him. Like, genuinely hated him. It happened so naturally and so quickly that I was startled by the feeling. Just this week, I was busy typing out an ode to my love for him and days later if he had been in my reach I would’ve done physical harm to him and not thought twice about it.

It occurs to me that I have never had a romantic relationship that wasn’t complicated. There are always things left unspoken, an elephant in the room so to speak. I have been angry with every partner. Mostly because, contrary to popular belief, none of my relationships have come easy. Every one of my boyfriends has had some doubts about relationships. I can’t say whether the doubt surrounds their relationship with me specifically (though I obviously am the common denominator here) or whether they all have had an aversion to monogamy, which for all of them has turned out to be true on some level. The thing that I do know is that I’ve nearly had to convince each guy that I’ve dated seriously that I was worth dating. And then after we’d been together and gone through the motions to cement our “love” for one another, they would do something to let me know that they had not believed that I was worth it after all. Maybe they had cheated. Maybe they had done something to disrespect me. Maybe they just seemed INDIFFERENT to me at the moment. Whatever the case, something inside me would snap, I’d see red and in that split second my love for them would quickly mushroom into a cloud of hate. And, no matter where we were or what we were doing, I’d stare indignantly at his face, or at the receiver (if we had been speaking by telephone), or in MBF’s case study his words on a computer screen, and be thinking as my uncle would say, “Dude, fuck you and the horse you rode in on.”

The anger wouldn’t necessarily result from what had just been said right then, nor by the perception that I had of the way that the guy was behaving toward me in the moment. No, the anger would result from a lot of little things that built up over the time that we had been involved. Sort of a “straw that broke the camel’s back” situation. Of course I would feel some hostility and resentment. This was a person that I had spent time trying to convince that I was really worth his time, energy, and exclusivity, and after tireless effort on my part, he would have shown me that he didn’t believe me. And then, logically, I would hate him.

I was startled when it happened with MBF. Shocked, really. I had expected it with boyfriends – it had become a familiar turning point in my relationships… and, yes, I am aware that this is not healthy – but MBF is not a boyfriend, although I probably feel more strongly for him than I’ve felt for any of the boyfriends I’ve had up to this date. At any rate, I wasn’t sure what to do with the feelings that I had. MBF said something that cut me to the core. I’m sure that he didn’t mean for the words to harm me, but I was hurt. So, I made a stupid threatening statement to him in the moment that I hated him. And when he didn’t react – he didn’t even seem surprised at what I had said out of desperation – I became bold and defiant and took my words even further. Dug even deeper in an attempt to hurt him the way that he had just hurt me. Did he even know that what he had said had confirmed what I already knew – that he doesn’t think I’m “worth it”? Again, I spoke out of desperation and almost sounded a bit crazy for saying something so outrageous, ludicrous, and untrue. He paused, laughed, and told me that he forgave me, even before I apologized. And, just like that. Snap! The hatred dissolved and he was my friend again. He had literally fought my hatred with love and, as I always suspected, love won that battle.

It’s sort of crazy how you don’t even know what you are capable of doing until you’re backed into a corner. When you feel forced to act to save face, you will do what it takes to protect your interests. I did that so many times with Mr. Ex, it wasn’t even funny. I had said that I would never again maintain fond feelings toward a man who caused me to act out of my character. With Mr. Ex, I didn’t even recognize myself and that scared me shitless. Numerous times, during our interactions, I’d feel hatred bubble up inside me and settle on my chest like a 25-lbs weight.

Who was this person who wanted to destroy things, who wanted to cause physical harm to other people, who shouted and screamed and made idle threats? Surely, it wasn’t this Lovely Brown Girl. Nothing about who I was with Mr. Ex was “lovely”. It was all ugly and it made me unsure of myself, all the while trying to convince him and everyone else that I was sure of both who I was and what I was worth. But is that exactly why I was so angry all the time? Because how can you successfully convince someone that you’re worth it if you don’t even believe it yourself? That’s what I started to recognize after nearly two years of conflicting emotions, of a daily split between intense love and passionate hate. At the end, I was exhausted. I was tired of trying to convince someone of something they were never going to believe and sick of doubting myself about something I knew to be true from the beginning. Of course I was worth it! I knew it, he didn’t. I was trying to persuade him to believe that I was good enough, when everyone else around me (including, on some level, me) knew that I was in fact TOO good for him. He didn’t deserve me. So I left. End of story.

And now, there is no more hatred of Mr. Ex. That’s how I know I don’t love him. The other day, someone asked me if I knew what he was up to, what he’d been doing since we broke up. My reply: “I don’t know where he is, what he’s doing, who he’s doing it with, when he’s doing it, why he’s doing it, or how he’s doing it. And I don’t care to know.” For the first time, I realized that this was actually true. I don’t wonder about him. When I think about it, I wish no harm to befall him. In fact, I don’t wish anything for him, good or bad.

Mr. Ex has called several times in the last couple of weeks, but I’ve ignored his calls and have not been motivated to call him back. He doesn’t leave messages and the last text that I received from him was on my birthday when he had signed it “A guy you used to know”. I liked that he used the past tense. When I got the message, I read it and smiled and forgot about it until a friend who was there with me when I received it reminded me of it days later. This is indifference. The opposite of love. Golly, it’s great to be here.

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