The Courage to Love

We all know that love – unconditional acceptance by another person – is what we want, need and desire.  Love is vital to our health and well being and is one of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs.  And yet, loving another is a complicated thing, which requires both courage and resilience to transverse the landscape of such profound emotion.

It is evidenced that many individuals after more than a year of unresolved grief, develop cancer or fatal heart disease. The loss of love can be so profound that indeed, it can, break our hearts and our will to live. The renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud stated that we “are never so hopelessly unhappy as when we lose love.”

In a poignant essay,  published in The Sun, Poe Ballantine provides insight to the necessity of trust within love. Trust is the element of love which provides the safe place necessary to share our lives and hearts with others. Trusting, and dealing with the loss of trust within love, requires great courage to be able to move beyond the loss and love again. It is interesting that we are inundated from many sources these days with information about wellness and how to prevent illness, when what many of us need is information about how to prevent heartbreak.

Ballantine’s essay tells a story about his father:

“He kept a close ritual of coffee, then work, dinner, his television shows and his cigarettes. The newspaper stayed on the table open to the personals. He had opened them the first day she had left him, like the reflex of a man covering a wound after being shot. His face was gray from survival. He was a man who could not allow himself to break. The despair stretched out. The music from the stereo could not fill the emptiness. Our conversations were automatic, clock talk. His single guiding hope was that she would return.”

“What had happened to my father he never believes would happen. He was fifty years old, settled, comfortable, secure. His children were raised. He had worked hard all his life and now he could relax. I understood why my mother had left him, but I still condemed her for leaving – for taking the easy way out. My father and I played cards and watched private-eye dramas on television. He looked in the personals, called once at something that looked right, but cancelled soon after; it just wasn’t in him.”

“One Sunday afternoon I heard him crying in the bedroom. I didn’t know what to do with a father who cried. He taught me all I knew, the important things: honesty, loyalty, firm handshake, the love beyond self-love, the duty of a man. Trust was his only religion and it was failing him and in turn it was the failure of the world.”

“The one thing a human being asks for on this earth is to be loved. Why should it be impossible?”

Trusting, loving and the resilience to come back from the loss of love may be the next “health frontier”.  Nutrition, one of the more popular health topics, is not just about nourishing our tissues. Nourishing our hearts, which are hungry for love and acceptance, is another skill we need to learn. If we should be mindful of what we eat, how mindful should we become about how and who we love?

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2010 G. Donadio