I grew up associating love as a weak and feminine trait, just as U.S. culture portrays it. Like most boys I learned to suppress my emotions, or at least the “feminine” ones. Some emotions such as anger are allowed. Every fight between boys or men is an uncontrolled emotional outburst, but it will never be labeled as such. It is only recently as I’ve grown emotionally, in no small part thanks to my amazing wife, that I have rediscovered love.
At first I was just trying to feel empathy again. I knew I should feel it, but I was so numb to violence. And any display of emotion, such as crying over the loss of a loved one, would immediately cause me to detach and pull away. It was a well trained habit of suppression meant to keep me from feeling. With a lot of effort and visualization I could just force myself to feel for others.
Then, my wife and I had a child. Now there were two people in my life who I loved completely, unconditionally. I savored every moment, touch, sound, and then word that I shared with my child. I already realized emotions were not bad and I was trying to be more empathetic; so I never built any walls or suppressed any emotions. Suddenly, I found myself silently crying while watching movies. It took quite a bit of getting used to, but I stopped fighting the tears completely. Movies that never phased me before could bring me to tears. All of them did it with children. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my child or even seeing them suffer.
During much of this time my marriage was barely surviving. But, after a long deadening lull, we pulled through. As I grew emotionally with my ever-faithful wife I began to really open up and love as never before. And it was so much more than the intense, bright flame of puppy love we had when we had first met. It was deep, full, and stabilizing; like the difference between a fire and an ocean.
My walls and harmful habits are gone. I can feel, love, and empathize freely with anyone. When I read horrid stories in the news I hurt. I shed tears without shame, because they show my solidarity with the human race.
Recently, while reading swinger stories and lamenting the common theme of fear of emotional attachment, I stumbled onto polyamory. I know not everyone is polyamorous, this is just what helped me in my realization. I am capable of loving more than just two people fully. Though it may not be easy, I am capable of loving any number of people as much as I love my wife. Polyamory’s infinite love took on a whole new meaning to me. I would die for my wife. And I am willing to love all people just as much.
I have found that love is an infinite resource. I am learning to open my heart to all of the people of the world. I am learning that love can be as powerful, infectious, and consuming as hate. For the first time I believe that love is more powerful than hate and that love can overcome violence. Not long ago I rolled my eyes as I read J. K. Rowling’s words of love’s power, and of its place as the most powerful magic in her novels. Just as I had many times before when I heard or read the same message. But now I fully believe it.
If everyone loved each other the way they do their siblings, spouses, or children, then they would be too willing to take a bullet for someone to allow such a violent world. Our society is built on violence and hate, but now I know that a better one can be built on love and be even stronger.