I want to begin with a quote about love from an author I deeply respect and then I want to tell you why he is absolutely wrong. In fact, he is so wrong I feel like yelling in his face and telling him he has no frigging idea about what love really is? Am I angry? You bet I am because this highly educated Jungian analyst has written some very insightful stuff and lots of people read his work. That means quite a few individuals and couples will read these lines and swallow them whole and tragically miss out on the wonderful treasure they are experiencing.
So what is the terrible quote? Here it is.
“The “in-love” state, great narcotic as it is, numbs consciousness, retards growth and serves as a soporific to the soul.”
By the way, “soporific” means something like a sedative. Which in this case is redundant given his previous use of the word narcotic.
Why does this quote by the writer/analyst James Hollis irritate me so intensely? In truth is he not simply stating what many people already believe about the “phase” called romantic bliss? Yes, this is a version of the traditional belief about the first stage of being in-love. But this interpretation is not only wrong but also terribly misleading because to speak this way with such simplistic and condemning conviction will lead many lovers to lose one of the greatest gifts love has to offer: THE EYES OF LOVE.
The experience of falling in love is not a narcotic. To call it that is to commit a sacrilege. It is in fact the exact opposite of a mind numbing drug. Falling in love opens our eyes more clearly than any other experience of life. Falling in love gives us the ability to see another person’s astounding magnificence. Our love-eyes allow us to see what has always been present but was hidden. We, with love-eyes, look upon our lover and see her or his true beauty and true wondrousness.
Falling in love tears away the blindfold of normal vision and graces us with the ability to see the loved other as the masterpiece of art that they actually are and always have been. One blessed look and we are changed forever. Who and what we see suddenly becomes almost a god and being with that person assumes a quality much like worship.
Is this a narcotic? Only to the cynic who does not look carefully enough to see what is really occurring. Yes, many would say, “But this wonderful phase never lasts. It always dissipates in the harsh light of reality and we go back to the regular difficulties of relationship.” I will acknowledge that most couples lose touch with this very special experience in less than 12 months, BUT, not because it is a drug that wears off. It wears off because the once blessed and happy couple has no idea about how to sustain it and even expect it to go away. This when the eyes of love begin to go blind (not the other way around as the love-is-blind cynics love to call it) and neither partner knows what to do to recover their precious love sight.
Falling in love brings new sight and that sight opens us to the ultimate truth about another person. Each of us is an astounding work of art, a masterpiece beyond compare. Yet we live our lives sadly unaware of our magnificence until for a brief and blessed time some previously ordinary individual is given the eyes to see who we truly are. And then we are given the same eyes through which to return the favor.
How does this miracle occur? I think of it as grace and I also think that grace is poured out on all humanity from time to time and even the lowliest among us can feel its cleansing balm that opens our eyes to something only God usually sees.
The first good news is that falling in love comes to many if not most of us. The second good news is that it does not have to end. If we are willing to put aside our cynicism and our long held belief that love always crashes down into the hard realities of life, we can learn how this wonder can be sustained and we can then be blessed with years of romantic bliss.