The Fall of Love | A Path To Love







I cannot define love, but if I could, I would say that my definition of it has changed drastically over the last few years. Or rather, my sensibility surrounding the essence of love has changed a great deal. Judging by my current belief, I could say with some confidence that I never actually loved anyone in my life for the first 30 years; aside from natural, instinctual feelings primarily towards my mother as a young child. In fact, I would go so far as to say that none of my emotions, my feelings, were genuine for the first part of my life. This does not mean that my past is some demonic dwelling or scorched earth. There were plenty of notions floating around of love, forgiveness, sadness, anger, etcetera – I just experienced a perverse version of these emotions.

Love has always confounded me; For much of my life, it was my impression that to love meant to tyrannize and one ought to be morally superior to others. I was turned off by this approach but had never picked up an alternative, so I created my own, as a child, and as you can imagine it was flawed. I had set out to define love and to grasp it, but I mistook approval for affection. I wanted so badly for others to accept me, for others to embrace and approve of me that I was like a wounded puppy, always expecting to be cast out into the storm unless I lay on my back with gifts and acts of submission. And as so often happens people begin to treat you as you show them how to use you – I was your “yes man,” and you had no choice but to take advantage or to leave me. Few people wish to leave the wounded, and fewer realize the power they take by remaining. I allowed all of this and created much of this because I wanted to show you I loved you. I instead showed you I was dependent on you, and when you left, I cursed you. I was a sick man, a wounded man, and you sadly tried to rescue me.

All of my emotions were based on fear; everything I felt was a safeguard against me feeling inadequate and not in the actual feeling itself. I felt pride when I sensed you were proud of me, yet I never felt pride alone. I felt anger only at myself, blaming all of your actions as reactions to my mistakes. Sadness came in the form of self-pity and forgiveness was used to avoid confrontation. Loneliness was perhaps my most genuine emotion – but I have always felt alone. Amongst millions I have felt loneliness in the pit of my stomach; In the darkest hours, I searched for isolation to rid myself of this feeling. I found a friend in my loneliness – I embraced my negative, harmful emotions because they accepted me. However, they failed me time and again; this foundation so weak that I fell further and further until I had felt nothing at all. I became numb. Finally, I became something I could live with.

Numbing pain, a numbing hatred, all directed inwards. I was able enough to take the hate but far too weak to see the truth. At this moment, I created my most delusional emotions, my most intense feelings of love and sadness were paper thin and frail. No foundation, no mortar or brick, nothing at all. 27 flights up and I felt the cold breeze – nothing and yet everything in front of me.

And at times, it is just as lonely – but the utter sadness and hatred are gone. Loneliness beckons me, but I resist the depression and self-pity. Instead, I confront these feelings – I am ok with this solitude. I step outside and ask to be placed in a position to be of service – to comfort those who feel they are without value. I can be of assistance by listening to people and understand that I never know what someone is going through. When others lash out, it is because they are hurting, and I can be there to practice tolerance and compassion. It is not my turn to lash out at the world – I do not need to turn to hateful words. I understand this sickness; it makes us bite, bewildered and afraid. It takes control of our minds and hearts, and we are so vulnerable we don’t let anyone close. I won’t try to control you; I’ll wait outside, and my story won’t change. You always come out to me when you are ready.

This is my love – to be patient and not control. When I love another, I want them to find happiness and fulfillment even if that doesn’t include me. I can work through the pain of loss because love tells me I am not losing anything; To love you is to want your brightness to reach its peak, and I remove myself and my pride. My love is not selfish – I know that you have your path in life. Sometimes our tracks run parallel yet most times our paths go opposite ways, and in these moments, I rest easy knowing I never tried to control you or bend your will to mine. I do not force you to come with me when your path winds the other way. Most times I don’t understand your way, but I support it.

Today I tell you that I want many things that I never receive, and I can smile because I know they weren’t meant for me. My life puts me in a position to have positive experiences beyond my design, so I let go of the desire to design. My plans force you to be in my life; they push you away from your life, and I don’t want this.

I am myself; I am intense, overwhelming, passionate, sensitive, emotional, and I have a hard time dialing it all back. I can exhaust you; I can inspire you, I can turn you away or brighten your eyes. It all depends on you – there is no magic in my words. If you want what I have you will want more – if not you will continue. There is no trap outside my door, no poison to stall your steps. I only attempt to be as genuine as possible, as honest as possible, and as authentic as I can be. It scares most to hear such honesty, and to many it is inappropriate! It is too much! But to me, it is all I know to be true. My small talk is riddled with nervous apprehensions; I don’t know what to say. I can listen for hours, but I cannot listen to an empty heart.

My love took me to Bellevue psychiatric ward again tonight to speak to those who are sick and suffering in their right. And as I do with you I do with them; I sit outside and hope for a chance to share my song. I don’t pressure the vulnerable; I don’t lie about my life. I tell them the difficulty I have had, the pain I have felt, and the joy I am fortunate enough to experience on a daily basis if I choose to experience it. They sense that I do not want anything from them just as I do not wish anything from you. Being allowed to share my song is enough; everything else is controlling and forceful, and I do not want this. I do not wish to deceive you, and I will not be whoever you think I should be.

I am myself, on my path, and I can love you from oceans away if I must. I will never try to change you, and I will never let you turn me. I love you for everything you are and for your pain and your happiness. You let me sit outside the door; I expect nothing more. The moment you are ready I will be here; my message does not change. You can always find me on my path seeking balance amid the chaos. I fall over and over and over again, and my lips and knees are bleeding. But my heart and my mind are still, and I get back up over and over and over again. I do not have to be right; I do not need to be perfect, I do not need to be understood.

Author: RCB

Rhett Burch is a writer and mental health advocate serving on the board of the North American Mental Illness organization in NYC. Through personal essays, he shares his story of recovery and the different processes that have relieved him from many years of self-destructive behavior, depression, anxiety, and at times outright misery. His insight into the human struggle comes from personal experience and the subsequent relationship he has developed with those who still suffer. Rhett believes that by connecting with others through love and compassion, he can continually develop a clearer understanding of himself. Rhett approaches those that ask for help and does not force his views upon anyone. He practices a non-judgmental stance in all of his affairs and hopes that his experience, courage, and compassion will resonate with those that read it. ​

3 thoughts

  1. Sir, Your song took my breath away. I certainy can relate to being a “people pleaser” all my life. Its taken a long time for me to understand why I was that way. FEAR. Thank you for your insightful words. The hardest thing I do is try to love myself. I have to believe that I am worthy of my own love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eileen, I wanted to thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment! I am always humbled when my words are able to help another and I find motivation and strength in comments such as yours. Though I write to let others know they are not alone I also need to be reminded that I am not the only who thinks this way. I have come to believe that it is not selfish top care for myself, and even more I feel the best gift I can give to others is my best self. And as a “people pleaser” myself I have learned that when I act this way I am only being dishonest to those I claim to be pleasing. So, I work on myself and I come to love myself. I cannot control others, cannot change them, but I can change myself and do the things which I find fulfilling. When we love ourselves we offer the world our best selves – it is the best gift I believe we can give. Thank you, Rhett Burch


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