A Case For Love’s Dark Side
I’m not going to profess that I think I have love all figured out, but I can tell you after decades working as a Guide and healer (aka. therapist) that we’re really not doing love right in the slightest. As a species, we suck at love. And chances are, this applies to you too.
We’re going to get deep into it here, but first I invite you to reflect on something. I want you to reflect on the reality surrounding you. Have you looked at the world lately?
Have you felt it? When you go out and run your errands and live your life, what’s that like? How does your heart feel, generally speaking, when you’re “out there”? And when you take in social media, flip through the latest movie options, or peruse the latest video games releases… what do you see? Are you feelin’ the love?
If you follow my work then you might be thinking this article is going to be about trauma. And that would be a wise deduction. We suck at love because we’re traumatized. You’d be astute to assume so, however… I invite us all to go a level or two deeper than that. We are indeed a deeply traumatized species living out our collective wounded state, no doubt about that. We’re swimming in fear, shame, and instability. However, trauma is not the source of why things are so f*cked up. Trauma is the symptom.
To get to the source, we need to go meta. We need to dive deeper, think bigger, go further. The problem my fellow stumbling fool is in what I just asked you to do. Think bigger…
What does one need to do to encompass a larger view of reality and take a deeper look? Simple, one needs to expand one’s awareness. And without an expanded awareness, one only sees what is right in front of them. Their little bubble world of self, nestled up against the other 7 billion or so human bubbles across the world. One only sees the short-term and the obvious, not the long-term and the (due to a severe lack of awareness)….. hidden.
We are traumatized, yes, but our problem is not our woundedness. Our problem is big picture thinking. Our problem is the capacity for expanded awareness and our catastrophic ineptitude with this one critical ability.
Humans are almost hopelessly short-sighted. So consumed by our egos, our little worlds, and our short-term gratification fixations that we scantly see the gigantic negative affects we’re having on each other through our seemingly innocent day-to-day choices. And because of this, our world has been war torn for eons.
Why do we war with one and other? Where does it begin? With greed? Sure. Revenge? Most definitely. A lust for power disguised as virtue? Big time. Yet, if one stops to really think… to really go deep into one’s evaluation of the species… we’d all see that every single reason for war, battling, and even engaging in seemingly innocent arguments, is all the same… it’s all due to incredulous short-sightedness.
If I go to war with you because one of your people killed one of mine, then where does that end? I avenge mine, you avenge yours, and the cycle never ends. If you invade my country for resources because I have more of what you need, you will eventually just need more. So, on to the next conquest and the cycle never ends.
Let’s scale it down now. I mean surely you see my point, but this doesn’t relate to you and I does it? I’m talking about countries and rulers, but how does this relate to us as individuals? Everything about it does. We, you, me are no different. Is an argument, not a battle? Is yelling at the person who cut us off in traffic not an attack? And is calling ourselves an idiot for losing track of our keys yet again not self-abuse?
Okay, so we all contribute in our own way. We all add to the collective soup of all things opposite to love and kindness. And upon realization of our behaviour, we seek to rectify it. We aim to do better, be better, love more. And in so doing we make our small efforts to be the kind of person that spreads more love in the world.
So, the next day we are kinder to the person at the register, we tell our partner we love them, and we give our Mom a call. In the days following we smile at strangers more often, open doors for others, and hold the elevator too. Great. That helps. That’s nice. After all, love is about being nice, right?
Perhaps we even think bigger than that and realize self-care benefits not only ourselves but those around us. So, we run ourselves a bath, we let ourselves sleep in, and we enjoy a treat because we deserve it. Ahhhh… there we go. That’s nice. Feels good. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Wasn’t so hard… yes, that’s right. It wasn’t hard. It was easy. It was instant. We remedied the situation, so we think. We did little acts of kindness to others and for ourselves. Great. Every little bit counts, right? Right… but again, I implore you my friend… go deeper still.
What I’m pointing at is the same short-term gratification oriented, immediate and obvious thinking that got us into this collective mess in the first place.
The soft cushy mushy kind of love just described is nice. That it is. But the sweetness of love is only a fraction of its real power. This gentle nourishing doing and being is but one side of the ethereal coin of the all encompassing and omnipotence that is LOVE. But this is not true love. No. Not yet. This is only the Yin. The feminine soothing touch. The comfortable, the tender, the sweet.
Let’s talk about the other side of the coin. The dark side of the moon. The Yang. This side of love is… much less comfortable. It’s the challenging and… let’s face it… the ever avoided half of the equation.
To offer context on the difficulty and sacrifice that True Love demands of us all, consider the following scenarios:
“So dude’s brother in neighbouring country killed my sister, who married his cousin. Ok. Simple. I must avenge my sister. In honour (aka. love?) for my family, I will have revenge in our family’s name. Ah… there we go. Feels good to be brave. I choose vengeance in honour of my kin! To arms!”
“F*ck that guy who just cut me off. What a dick. He didn’t even use his blinker. People are such jerks. I wish one of his tires would get a flat and he’d learn his lesson. Ahhh… that feels better. My therapist said I should let it out, so there we go. I let myself feel my feelings. That’s self-love right there. Good on me.”
“My sister’s complaining about her life again. Same story over and over. When will she learn to take some responsibility. Oh well. I’ll just listen to her again. After all, she just needs that in the end… someone to listen and hear her out. She just needs to be seen. She’s hurt and I’m her loyal listener. That’s what she comes to me for and that’s the love she needs.”
What do all of the above situations have in common? Each one of those examples exemplify business as usual. They illustrate the common and easy choices, despite appearances. They may seem to show a certain depth of loving consideration, but if we’re going to turn our collective shit-show around, the above forms of love are not going to cut it.
Yes, we must listen to show love. I would agree. Yes, we must set boundaries and stand up for ourselves sometimes. This is true. And yes, we must express ourselves. Letting it out is paramount indeed. But!!! I am telling you, if whatever loving choices you think you’re making feel easy on a consistent basis, then I guarantee without a shadow of a doubt that you are missing the mark in ways far larger than you realize.
You see, love is not just soft, easeful and made of light. Love also dwells in the darkness of its most avoided and difficult forms. In other words, sometimes (to strike the balance) love must be tough. And I would argue, we need the healthiest delivery of love’s tougher side now more than ever before.
But, what defines tough love? In the context of this article I’ll put it plainly: It is any act of love that requires true courage, ego crushing honesty, and immense depth of character. Tough love, in every case, is extremely difficult to do.
It is extremely difficult to forgive someone who killed your family member in cold blood. Despite the slow poison that hatred is to our psychological well-being, it is much easier to yearn for vengeance then to forgive.
It is very hard to let go of the fact that a driver just cut you off and put you and the people driving behind you in a lot of potential danger. It is very hard to cool your jets and consider that his wife might be in the hospital giving birth. Or that unexpected traffic made him late for his mother’s funeral.
It can be incredibly challenging to step out of just listening and to instead call someone out, whilst risking hurting their feelings. It is very hard to reveal a loved one’s short-comings to them, despite the years of suffering this could save them if someone just f*cking came out with it already.
It can feel very hard to take care of your body and go exercise first thing, knowing you’ll be sitting on your ass all day at work, whilst having only gotten six hours of sleep vs your usual eight. It can feel very hard not to skip yet another workout in favour of lounging around, despite the strong and powerful body these small decisions could accumulatively afford you in your 60s and beyond.
It is very difficult to drive by your opportunity for take-out on your way home and choose to get groceries for a healthy meal at 8:00 in the evening, having just finished an unexpectedly long, exhausting, and emotionally difficult day.
And it is extremely challenging to be the first person in the argument to drop your hurt and listen to the perpetrator (your partner) who feels just as deeply hurt by what happened yesterday as you do.
So, I ask you… how big is your picture of love? How deep are you taking it? How much of its tougher darker side are you embracing? And do you care with short-term or long-term thinking in mind?
Do you make things right by choosing the familiar/easy way of loving, or are you willing to do the last thing you want to do, knowing it is the right and most give-a-shit choice you could make?
Expand your awareness when it comes to love. Go deeper. Think bigger and embrace Love’s truly miraculous potential… in all its wound healing AND pattern destroying glory. And through this total embodiment of all that it means to love, I believe we could evolve out of our collective adolescence and into the master race we were always meant to be.