In an episode of “Hoarders” the individual took the film crew from room to room, or more accurately from mountain to mountain, showing off all of the bead supplies, paint supplies, knitting supplies… room after room of it. When asked if she uses these supplies she replied “No, but I might want to in the future and then I’ll have everything here that I need!” All of this potential that never gets fulfilled strikes me as the same as being in love with being “in love”, which is not the same thing as actually doing the work of loving, a work that may not be as immediately satisfying as the idea of it is.
I remember when none of my 4 living siblings existed. As each of 3 babies after me died, I remained an only child. And then when I was 8 one lived, and then another, and another, and another until “I” had become “the 5 of us kids”! As strange as it may sound, it was not so much my parents that gave me a sense of being a family as it was the fact of my siblings coming along; at that point I fit in somewhere, I was “the oldest”, the Big Brother! I felt completed!
And now one of those siblings has explicitly told the other 4 of us in an email that he does not feel part of our family and is opting out of the family. Raised as we are in our Hollywood culture where unrequited love is usually rewarded at the end of two hours what do we do with love when the beloved says, “I’m outta here”?!
When loving is not reciprocated it feels less like what we think of as love, and yet, I suspect that it moves into being a deeper, more mature expression of itself. In order to train a child you immediately reward him with a word of encouragement for correct behavior; when one loves as an adult, there may not be a reward, and yet loving is what our hearts are made for, loving and forgiving others when they flounder around and hurt us; at such moments our hearts and our love grow larger and deeper by giving up any expectation of a satisfying return.
Of course there are also other options available to me. I could lash out at him, punishing him for hurting my heart and making me feel rejected and like an only child again, the existence of my other 3 siblings not-withstanding. But even as anger rises within I see him once again as a tiny baby, I remember how it felt to hold him in my arms, to hear his excited baby-babbling. For all of the wisdom that I have gained over the years, my heart is unsure of what to do with this other than to say that I guess we just wait it out, responding favorably and kindly to any contact that he might make, and not giving-in to hurting him for hurting me.