Pretty young Things in Yellow Dresses
What has the suffering been about? Why do learned men and women tell us that we have to know hate to be able to know love well? Suffering drives an urgency toward action, towards war. But if we can hate and not take an action, could it be that we could then prevent war, prevent unnecessary pain. At the very least prevent the war of internal conflict.
In the midst of extreme abandonment, I found in me the invincible winter of discontent; and along with that invincible winter I found a location within my mind where genuine love shares a bed with genuine hatred.
I feel rage-full and resentful, angry and sad….what was once love has become bile, putrid and
solid waste. I find it hard to believe that the negative side of love is a passionate hate that comes from hurting at
a place that I do not want to understand. The aspect of love that is characterized by hatred is an aspect I do not want to
acknowledge; but try as I might when I hate, I know that I hate. For many years I compounded this by hating myself for hating.
There are stages to life’s development of love—mother love, daddy love, child love, love for things, love for places, love of life and lovers who we love for a time before they disappear—receding into that bin of discarded dolls and playthings. There is a time to love that feels unconditional, until that one deep abiding principle pops up out of nowhere and expectations and conditions begin to taint the purity of ecstasy and sexual love that we thought was going to be forever.
There is no forever. That’s a delusion if there ever was one. “We do what we can,” Henry James said, “and the rest is the madness of art.” He could also have said, the rest is the madness of love.
So, what then is Love? Is Freud right to say it is a psychosis, a suspension of reality based on denial and pipe dreams and visions of pretty young things in yellow dresses. Is it the unconscious memory of the beautiful woman who lives next door, but can only be appreciated if she is memorialized in a granite statue in a garden in Pompeii. (see Freud’s Gradiva)
Or, is love, unfortunately, more practical than that?
In some ways Love is as much a business contract as it is a feeling. Often when I have seen couples in counseling, I discover that it is an MBA that they need not an MSW. Because after the dust of illusion has settled, love is a commitment, a decision to honor, and to respect, and to hold as precious—like a gem. It is a contract to remain kind and compassionate, to our best possible extent.
Love, like the blush of youth, is a stage of development. It is a recognition that we really are a herding bunch and that the feeling of belonging is as precious and as necessary as food and air and shelter. But, it is not a forever lasting ecstasy. It is not mysticism. It is a practical way of getting on in life. It is acknowledging that a companion is valuable and useful as a partner in getting through this journey we call life.
I guess I ought to be grateful for the changing quality of love. It is much more useful that way. I think of all the loves that i have had in my life and they all have evolved, they never stayed one consistent thing. Even my love for the sea seems different then when I felt it was a muse, or an inspiration.
Nonetheless, I reminisce about those early days when I was twenty and one, and the idea of Ecuador as a snowman build by a river was a promise of something everlasting. It has faded into something almost as delightful as the moon-lite was that night. It faded into a friendship that can never be broken. For that I am grateful.
Dr. A. L. Dussault
Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis