Let’s talk about love. Not just the romantic love, but the love of friends, family, the various people who have come in and out of our lives.
When I was younger, my love was solely for my family. It took many years to understand that I love my friends and even more to love anyone romantically. Love is such an intangible feeling, one that I do not have the words to describe because how do you describe a feeling other than the ways it physically manifests inside us? I do not know what love is, but I do know that I have felt it in an infinite number of ways.
And to this day, I still love those people. The assholes, the liars, the abusers, the monsters. I continue love them and can accept that I may never stop loving them. That love doesn’t mean I have to like them, live with them, or put up with an iota of their shit. I’ve accepted that love does not redeem others. It does not save them. And it does not conquer all. Love is just something I feel that can hurt, heal, or be benign. But what it won’t do is convince me to be anyone’s victim or prey.
One of the biggest disservices we do to one another is sell this idea that love is some magical emotion that heals and redeems people. The whole notion that through love, we can save each other is complete bullshit because love without action is meaningless. Can love influence how we act? Yes. Can it inform the way we choose to live? Of course. But all that depends on the environment in which love is created and nurtured and white supremacist patriarchal capitalism is predatory.
This predatory behavior is global, but as someone who resides in america, I speak from that perspective. And in this country, I see white male predators at worst, mildly penalized for their behavior and at best lauded as heroes. From slave-owner presidents to open pedophiles in the church and government, we see these white men protected from their abuses and everyone outside of that group punished for admitting they exist. We see whiteness protecting whiteness, white women protecting white power even as it abuses them. We see Black people co-signing on whiteness because, to some extent, capitalism empowers and protects them. We see non-Black PoCs co-signing on anti-Blackness because as long as Black people remain the global underclass, they have people to exploit to avoid being exploited themselves.
Our world is violent. Our society is violent. Children and anyone vulnerable to white supremacist patriarchal capitalism is prey and the vast majority of us are living in survival mode. We live in debt under the constant threat of economic destabilization, if we ever actually stabilize, and experience verbal and physical abuse at every turn while being told to grow a thicker skin because otherwise we will not survive. Each generation grows progressively more predatory as more resources are hoarded by the 1% and this manufactured scarcity pushes us into a survival of the ruthless battle royal of existence. It is in that environment that love becomes a tool. A weapon of self-sacrifice and subjugation. Love is an emotion we are conditioned to seek to our detriment and to prioritize at our own expense.
Love is real but in this society, it’s the center of every cautionary tale of self-destruction.
When I was younger, I loved unconditionally. Friends, family, people in general. I trusted. I shared. I gave and gave and gave until there was nothing left to give and every time those I loved hurt me, stole from me, lied to me, and took and took and took until I was a shell of myself, those around me told me it was my fault for caring. My fault for loving. My fault for giving. I should have protected myself, known better, been more cautious. When their lessons took root and I refused them something, suddenly I was selfish. Greedy. Cruel. Self-centered. Suddenly, I didn’t love them or care about them because if I did, then I would give them this one little thing that would make them happy. Didn’t I want them to be happy?
The answer is yes. I do want them to be happy. But if the price of their happiness is a pound of my flesh then they can starve. Our predatory society has made love into less of a feeling and more of a gateway to exploit others.
Loving you makes me vulnerable to you. It opens a door for you to stomp through my life and destroy as much as you can before I realize the monster you are. Over time, I’ve had to learn that in a society of survivors, love is a weapon that can and will convince you to starve so that others can live. Survival is a fight to the death among those with the least power to change it and people will exploit every tool available to ensure theirs.
We are existing on borrowed time. The signs of our mass destruction are here. While it is possible that we will learn that our survival is contingent on our ability to work together with the environment and one another, it is highly improbable as those hoarding resources have no real incentive to change the status quo. I have loved people who think like this. And I love them to this day.
But love doesn’t protect us from monsters. More often than not, it makes us their food. I have been both prey and predator at varying times in my life. Neither of those roles suit me and I have been on the search for something different since realizing that. My vision of a better tomorrow doesn’t quite exist yet, but I know that love will not be weaponized there. It shouldn’t be weaponized in any way, but I don’t control how you choose to give and receive love.
Just know that if you come around me with that “love=sacrifice” bullshit, I’ll fuck you up and warn everyone who’ll listen. I can love you and protect myself and others from you. Just because love does not protect us from the monsters it doesn’t mean it can’t heal us from the harm you cause… if we are lucky enough to survive.
Love without manipulation. Love without causing harm. Love freely while freely kicking anyone’s ass to the curb for trying to use your love against you.
I know I deserve to be treated better than that. Do you?
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