FORCEFULNESS IN LOVE
My forcefulness in love was weakened by constant disappointments. How many times the beloved shrank in front of me and transformed from an elephant to a mouse, annoyed by a cat. I tried tirelessly to catch him, aiming for a delicious meal, only to find myself exhausted from flirting and annoyed at running circles around him and myself. I left him realizing that, at most, he would be a mere meal that could not even satisfy the hunger of my children. So I watched as he went back to his hole, waiting for him to come out sooner or later to flirt with me, and follow me, and stir up my appetite. I looked at him without hunger, without any interest. I had seen him as an elephant before. How can a lioness follow a mouse into the hole that is his shelter?
“There is tenderness in love, and enslavement in adoration,” “Love is a life preserver.” These phrases amused me as I scrolled through the pages of The Jurisprudence of Love like waves rolling to shore on a sunny, pleasant day. Yes, it is so. But how can love be a lifeline when your boat is adrift with no sails? How can it be a lifeline when your island is your only home, an island surrounded by the depths of the sea where the unknown is buried? A life preserver then becomes a pillow on which to lay your head, a buoy in the wake of life’s wild tornados, a shelter amid earthquakes and the flames of volcanoes. Love is an escape from a bitter reality into tenderness, care, and nostalgia. But no sooner does it turn to adoration then you become a slave under its power. The life preserver transforms into a chain around your neck, dragging you down into submission until you give up entirely.
In my case, it was impossible to surrender. I did not even own myself. How could I be in a dual devotion with a beloved one, even if his buoy was a golden chain and yachts instead of a life boat?
In love, there may be a desire to escape to a shelter that can alleviate the heart’s aches and fears. Yet in love there is also a certain selfishness. The lover cannot give up the moment he falls into the bosom of adoration. It cannot hold together, except when two unite, two bodies and a single soul. The other becomes part of your breath. You inhale him. His smell surrounds you and moves inside you. It can never leave you, no matter how distant you become.
In love, there are hopes and disappointments. Expectations grow larger than the lovers themselves. Emotions fill the air, and the loved one becomes the oxygen and the carbon dioxide. From him and through him comes photosynthesis—and he becomes the destination.
Love is an escape and an asylum. In love, I searched for a path towards a certain hope that could change my life in an instant, the hope of a man who could fill me with the emotions I longed to feel. Inside me was a flow of emotions that surprised me when I fell in love. It was as if I had a crack, and at any moment the crack could open and out would flood springs and waterfalls.
Every time I resorted to a safe shelter in love, I found myself trapped behind an impervious dam. If it didn’t open to release what was happening within me, I would drown.
Love, admiration, fondness, and adoration. All gathered in an instant to become strong emotions, though we dwelled in his universe, rather than in mine. I became dedicated to him despite the responsibilities of my life. I missed him even while he was near me. I wanted more, despite being too full with him. I dreamed of a great love, but once I started living it, I found myself in the emptiness of distance and space, plagued by the echo of my own voice and the shadows of my soul. I was alone with a man I no longer knew. Did he really exist? Or was he the creation of a dream, an exciting fascination born of my imagination? The dream kept fading away until it disappeared, and I looked around to find myself alone.
With every defeat, I learned to grasp the next opportunity. With every heartbreak, I learned to close my wounds. Perhaps the old break of my ribs was the reason, as if inside me there was a fracture that could never be healed, a wound that would bleed the moment it was scratched. I had become accustomed, during that past decade, to heal and to endure that wound’s pain and cry on my own, quietly and in silence.
Each time, I gathered myself and my pain and my disappointment and carried them all on the wings of a new dream, whispering to myself, “Don’t be sad. Imagine if he stayed and you were stuck with him forever.” Each time a man left, I told myself there must be a better opportunity, a better man who could fill me with emotions once again. What is the heart but a pump that must work continuously in order to properly function?
The feeling of love is exceptional. Nothing is equal to it. It is a feeling I love to live in. Sometimes I feel that I love love itself, rather than the beloved. I want to live in love. It’s as if my heart flows with this feeling. Sometimes I think of the shape of my heart, its four chambers filled with love for my children. I admit that all of this love doesn’t give me the fulfillment I need. It’s as if there is an equation between motherhood and womanhood, between the love I give to my children and the love I want to take from a beloved. But soon enough, the moment comes when the man nestles between the ribs of a woman like her breastfed child. The difference is that the child grows and is weaned and leaves to live his life and find his own path, but the man returns to the bosom of the woman, as if he wants to eternally live inside her. He wants an eternal life he doesn’t understand, except that it connects him to a love he considers more refined, sincere, and giving—the love of his mother.
You see him searching for his mother in the hidden parts of the woman, like a puppy looking for a teat to ease his pain and provide security. I don’t know how, but breastfeeding must create an instinctive connection between motherhood and femininity. It’s as if with the cutting of the umbilical cord the child begins his lifelong attachment to the breast of the mother, the woman.
This may perhaps be the supreme trauma in the life of that embryo that has emerged from the uterus, where the breast remains the only place for eternal connection, a place where he can feel attached forever. That is why the moment he is weaned, his instinct pulls him towards the breast of a woman, where, perhaps, motherhood and femininity and instinct mix—and he becomes confused as a result, the way the men in our lives are confused. He doesn’t know whether the woman is a mother or a mistress. His emotions are confused, so he oppresses the woman without realizing it. In an instant, the mother—the center of his life and, through the breast that fed him, its origin—leads to the center of lust and becomes the driver of his instinct. He appears to be a complete man to others and his new female companion, but inside he refuses to be weaned, and searches continuously for a breast to fulfill his thirst, the breast that fulfilled him when the cutting of the umbilical cord separated him from his mother.
And while he is reaching for a mother in another female, the woman searches for a man. He searches for safety in a breast like that of his mother, and she searches for a man who can give her the safety she longs for, in a culture that has raised her to seek the security of a man, his comfort and protection.