bell hooks on love

“When I was a child, it was clear to me that life was not worth living if we did not know love.  I wish I could testify that I came to this awareness because of the love I felt in my life.  But it was love’s absence that let me know how much love mattered.  I was my father’s first daughter.  At the moment of birth, I was looked upon with loving kindness, cherished and made to feel wanted on this earth and in my home.  To this day I cannot remember when that feeling of being loved left me.  I just know that one day I was no longer precious.  Those who had initially loved me well turned away.  The absence of their recognition and regard pierced my heart and left me with a feeling of brokenheartedness so profound I was spellbound.

Grief and sadness overwhelmed me.  I did not know what I had done wrong.  And nothing I tried made it right. No other connection healed the hurt of that first abandonment, that first banishment from love’s paradise.  For years I lived my life suspended, trapped by the past, unable to move into the future.  Like every wounded child I just wanted to turn back time and be in that paradise again, in that moment of remembered rapture where I felt loved, where I felt a sense of belonging.

We can never go back.  I know that now.  We can go forward.  We can find the love our hearts long for, but not until we let go grief about the love we lost long ago, when we were little and had no voice to speak the heart’s longing.  All the years of my life I thought I was searching for love I found, retrospectively, to be years where I was simply trying to recover what had been lost, to return to the first home, to get back the rapture of first love.  I was not really ready to love or be loved in the present.  I was still mourning–clinging to the broken heart of girlhood, to broken connections.  When that mourning ceased I was able to love again.”

bell hooks, preface to all about love:  new visions

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