I do not know if I was taught this, or if I realized it through life experience, but it is my belief that you do not hurt people you love. I know this is simplistic. We all know very well that we do hurt the ones we love. (The ones we shouldn't hurt at all. . .) And sometimes it is with acute deliberation. We either need to prove something to ourselves or to another. It is actually amazing how often, in retrospect, I have consciously done this, and the variety of reasons or rationalizations that I have used. And then there is the big general question that haunts my every waking and sleeping moment. "Is this love?" Followed closely by its red-headed step-child, "What is love?"
A very well-known person who is respected for her advice column and recently had a best selling book got into an on-line controversy about a statement that she made. Actually, she tried to stay out of the fray and the disagreement was largely among her commentors. A year later it cropped up again. She is so much younger than I that I blame my general disagreement with her philosophy on the fact that my life experience has been extremely various, and I KNOW better. I also seldom, if ever, had to do a brief hiatus with heroin to clear my mind in order to come to a decision. She is read by so many that turn to her for help in their moments of confusion, and her advice is always so unilateral. I feel it is dangerous, and, in fact, when the subject was re-introduced this year, it was someone who started out by saying why they thought her advice was dangerous.
I think we never stop learning and it is not a good idea to think our viewpoint is right for everyone. I had a conversation with my daughter today and we were both growing increasingly uncomfortable. Finally I said I thought this was the type of conversation we should have over martinis. It was SO not mother-daughter, but SO chick to chick. I kind of felt like I should not have said many of the things I said, but, on the other hand, I am glad she knows my viewpoint, and she already knows I am anything but coy.
Nevertheless, when I made the remark about the martinis, she said she wondered if the baby would wake up when we shifted her from one car to another. We neither of us said, "Ahem." but it was an "ahem" moment if ever there was one. Yeah, you DON'T want to know what we were discussing. Not that the subject has not come up previously in my blogs and fiction, cuz it has. But a blog, whether it is true or not, I like to believe is anonymous. The thing that we agreed on was that what ever may seem to be the right thing to do at one moment in your life, may in fact later be the wrong choice. And you can never be sure. How can you even think you are sure if you are over the age of twenty? (Under that age, saying you are sure is utterly meaningless, even to yourself.) And you are never going to know until experience shows you whether it is right or wrong. So, if it is going to hurt someone, for whatever reason, the one thing that I know about love, or even consideration or empathy, is don't hastily make a decision that will hurt someone. Circumstances may change for any number of reasons and you may wish you had a do over. I am betting many of you already know this. I bet many of you wish you had a do-over for lots of events in your life. I know I do. It may be for a marriage, or a break up, or just for picking out what color coat you wanted. Whatever. You may not get the do-over, so stop and think. And, take a freakin' long time to do it. If it feels right is NOT a good reason to do something. Not if love, whatever the heck that is, is involved. Anywhere.
I do not fear pain. I have learned a lot from it. I know it goes away. But still, there are times when I have a choice about whether or not to inflict pain. And even though I know it will go away, they will get over it, be better for it, I hope I will choose not to inflict that pain.
But what the heck. I do. Don't I?
Photo Attribution: Oh, fuck. That's my grandma.