Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Everyone's talking about love - guess I will too

A friend of mine posted this quote on her facebook wall, and I had a very strong reaction to it.
"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
~Mother Theresa
Love until it hurts? How long do I let him hurt me before I don't care if I live or die, and is THAT love? I guess at that point, I don't care if I die, so I'd jump in front of a bus to save someone else... but I don't think that's a very healthy place... I've been there, and it wasn't a place I'd like to revisit...

Love isn't supposed to hurt: If it hurts, it could be called sacrifice, it could be called pain, it could be called abuse, but not love...

Later, I had another friend share the same quote... Her and I have a relationship where I could tell her I had a strong reaction to that quote, and ask her why she liked it and how it helped her... 

She explained sometimes there are processes that hurt. And another friend brought up a situation with her mother's failing health. It hurts to face her mother growing older and losing her independence, and through that process they are learning to love each other in new and different ways... 

I realized, I don't see those things as hurting or painful, at least not in comparison to other pains.
The process of change is hard... I cry. I feel tired. I wouldn't describe it as hurting. At least not compared to the hurt that I felt BEFORE: The anxiety. The blaming myself for other people's anger. The fear. The rape. The being thrown into the wall. The constant feeling that I wasn't good enough and could never be good enough to deserve people to be kind to me. Feeling constantly compelled to do. All of those things HURT... 
changing, growing, learning, finding my own strength, facing fears of rejection by letting people get to know ME, being rejected by some, and feeling the love of MANY, ... that feels amazingly, wonderfully, GOOD in comparison.

Being there with a friend who is going through hard times, stressful times, health problems: That's sad, it isn't easy, it's exhausting sometimes, but I am grateful and I don't describe it as painful. (The most difficult part is realizing that I can't fix it. I can't make it all go away. Being with someone's "hard times" forces me to face my humanness. Being human is sometimes painful for me, but I'd rather be with someone as a human than as the robot I used to be. It feels good to be present, even in "painful" situations.) Mostly, having my friends share their journeys with me has felt validating and empowering. "They're doing it too! I am not alone!"

I also recognize that Mother Theresa is a trigger for me:
She DID sacrifice herself and her life to other people. She wasn't an example of a balanced person. Her out of balance was very valued and valuable, and that doesn't make it any more balanced. Our world NEEDS people like her, because there are so many people that take and take and take: In order to have balance, we need people who will give and give and give... 

For so long, I have felt guilt for not sacrificing everything for everyone else... I still beat myself up for not being as "good" as Mother Theresa... In my "black and white" world, if I am not Mother Theresa, I am selfish. Until I have given everything I have, until I have hurt enough, I have not loved enough.

Loving until it hurts has meant hurting myself. Loving until it hurts has only created pain for me. 
I'm learning to redefine what it means to hurt. For most people, hurting is: sadness, disappointment, unmet expectations, changing, giving a few dollars to someone else, giving a little (but not everything). I feel sadness that I know pain so deeply. I might feel a little bit jealous. I also might feel a little bit silly, because I created many situations that were painful because I thought that is what love should feel like.

Moving forward, I choose love that is joyful, happy, inspirational, fun, full, complete. I choose love that is accepting and without expectations. I choose love without the pain of guilt, fear, or compulsions. I choose love that feels loving towards myself.


  1. I agree - I have never understood this quote, and I see people posting it on Facebook ALL the time (probably because I've friends with a lot of Catholics). I don't know what exactly it means to "love until it hurts" and how there can then be "no more hurt." And I don't know if any of the people posting it actually understand it either.

  2. I saw that quote a while ago on FB as well from one of my friends and I had a very similar reaction. I agree with you Jen that love shouldn't hurt or be painful. I love how you ended your post by saying, "Moving forward, I choose love that is joyful, happy, inspirational, fun, full, complete. I choose love that is accepting and without expectations. I choose love without the pain of guilt, fear, or compulsions. I choose love that feels loving towards myself." That is beautiful and more of us should include that kind of thinking into our lives more frequently. Your journey is inspiring! Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us!

  3. Love is sacrifice though, it means giving of yourself. It doesn't mean losing any part of yourself, but sharing. That's a better term, it means sharing of yourself. The pain of love isn't really painful, but it is still. You said yourself you don't really see it as pain because you have experienced a worse alternative, but even though you have a higher "pain tolerance." Does it not really hurt just a little to see someone hurting, someone that you love? Despite the pain, when you're with those people, no matter what happening, no matter how much they hurt and it hurts to see you hurt. Would rather be anywhere else in the world? At that point, despite the hurt inside, you can't really feel anything BUT the love and hope you have for that person. The joy that comes with just being near someone you love. At that point though love can hurt, it's so overpowering that it can no longer be felt next to everything else that love has given you.

    That's my opinion on, that when you love someone well enough that you feel their pain, your love for that person can overpower that pain. You yourself I think have passed over that threshold. I may be wrong, but I think that's what she meant. That's what it means to me.

    The reason I admire Mother Theresa so much is because she never gave herself up, but shared and shared and shared herself until her love consumed all those around her. She never lost an ounce of herself in giving, that's the balance I think that she found, to share herself without giving herself away. I think that's the balance you're finding too, in your own way. By staying who you are through thick or thin you have found a place you can share yourself without losing any of yourself.

    I may have rambled, but that's what I do. Love you sis!

  4. I wrote something awesome that disappeared, so here I'll try again.

    Love is sharing of yourself, not giving of yourself. Here's the difference, you don't lose any of yourself, you grow, you learn, but you don't lose anything. You are YOU, and not a drop of it is lost through loving of someone else, but when you love, eventually you love someone so much that their pains become, not necessarily yours, a part of you though. You FEEL them, almost as if their were your own. Once you start loving them so much that you feel their pains. You can also grow to love them so much that their joys, hopes, and everything else becomes your own too. You love them enough to feel their pain, but love can over power that pain, it becomes as you said " It feels good to be present, even in "painful" situations. Mostly, having my friends share their journeys with me has felt validating and empowering." There is a pain, that most would describe as pain, but your "emotional pain threshold" IS slightly higher than most people, but I know for a fact that when I'm hurting, you have hurt for me, so while not "painful" it is there.

    When she says love till it hurts, it's not putting yourself in abusive, painful, or bad situations. It's sharing so much of you while maintaining who you are and that love for yourself. (First off, I believe she took very good care of herself, using her knowledge very well that you can't help others until you've helped yourself)

    She shared of herself and her love to the whole world. She found the balance of love of herself with the love of others and desire to serve others.

    This is just my opinion, I may be way off base, I've never studied her life, studied her in any way. It's my opinion of healthy love. A love that is allowed only after a proper love and respect for yourself is established.

  5. Jessica - thanks!
    Dann - Thank you too! thanks for being a part of my journey.

    Jus - I found your first post. It was lost in the spam... incidentally, there were a bunch of other comments by other people lost there, so thanks for sending me to find yours. I like both of your comments - even though you were trying to say the same thing in both, you said good stuff in both.

    I appreciate your description of the quote. Hadn't thought of it that way, and your way actually makes sense to me. I also like your perspective on Mother Theresa. I have no idea if you're right, and she took care of herself or not... I just kind of assumed she didn't, because if I were being her, I wouldn't be... but that doesn't mean she wasn't. And it is true that her love encompassed the whole world.

    I also LOVE hearing your voice. It thrills me to read the things you write as you think about stuff.