Loving The “Right” Way

When you love someone, is it possible to answer the question “Why do you love them?” Since we tend to believe that love just happens to us, that we can’t control who we fall in love with, it would seem we shouldn’t be able to actually define the “why.”  But often people can and do answer the question with something like: “Because I like the way s/he treats me.”

I’ve always been dubious about this answer.   It’s nice to be treated well by someone else.  But if that someone is a criminal?  If that person treats others poorly?  If that person treats themselves poorly?  If that person is an ignorant fool?

Are we really seeing the person we love?

I am the spouse of a trans gender person and we are separating after many years of marriage. Throughout this process the one question I never found myself asking was why my mate needed to “come out.” I have felt betrayed, lost, scared, angry, alone, lonely, and confused, but never for a moment doubtful that s/he needed to do this. I ask myself why.  And I know the answer:

because I feel this way about myself: it’s not enough to be loved. I want to be loved for the “right” reasons. I want to be loved for who I am, not in spite of it.  Not for a fake persona I have adopted.   When we are loved for the wrong reasons it doesn’t feel quite right. If someone “loves” me because I am good to them, it implies that love will disappear if I am not always good to them. 

I’ve always found it interesting that the word “respect” comes from the Latin : respectus, which is a verb that means to look back at, to regard. To respect someone means to see them: not to see how they treat us.   And I want to be seen. Being seen for who we are and being loved for it is one of life’s rare gifts.

“Late Fragment”   by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

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