While at the library with my son, a lady trotted in with her rollicking toddler daughter who tittuped to the children’s computer station. At the expiration of the inaugural moments of entry, the daughter merrily commenced negotiating the mouse to play a miscellany of games as her eyes twinkled with starry rhapsody as it stared fixedly on the screen. The mother hovered over the girl like a halo, cautiously directing and advising with a pronounced effort to help find the appropriate game that would perhaps tranquilize and sooth the frenetic energy of the child. It appeared important for the mother that the girl strike a controlled rhythm that was self-sustaining. The reasons for which became momentarily apparent.
Moments later, my eyes instinctively stared at the nearby window and noticed a man, outside the library, who was approaching with determined strides. His eyes met those of the lady’s in a knowing glance. It was her boyfriend. Passing the entrance, he walked toward the lady and her toddler until the adults (young couple in their 30’s) exchanged a passionate hug stamped by a kiss of crimson fervor, initiated by the woman, that seem to loudly proclaim “My affection for you is a flowing river of infinitude that only the boat of your lips are permitted to freely navigate. Upon these waves I bid you to sail away my love!” Alright, perhaps my interpretation is a bit hyperbolic and dramatic, but that was the sense I perceived. A possessive type of passion of “belonging”. In this, an unstable vulnerability became evident.
What became clear was the unmistakable biological antipodes between the child and man, indicating the materials used to construct the girl was not assembled from his anatomical warehouse, but a foreign party. The impression that engilded me of the picture before me was as follows: the woman and the biological father must have suffered a severe and unpleasant fracturing of some sort, unexpectedly hurling the lady into the domain of singlehood with child for which she was emotionally unprepared and never anticipated. As such, the universal stock of grief, anxiety and disappointment of having the picturesque and idyllic vision of family she hitherto fostered deracinated by the breakup was fully imprinted on her body language, aura, facial movements and exaggerated sensitivity in clinging to this new man. The excessive vulnerability that tenaciously adheres to another, and willingly–even desperately–chaperones them into the most delicate chambers of the soul in an attempt to emotionally fetter them by proving the vastness and depth of her “love” by any means. The affection that seems devout, but is really underpinned by an unstable neediness and frenetic anxiety that fearfully whispers beyond the facade of confidence “should you, my new star of hope, ever leave me…I would be completely shattered! Thus the key to my entire happiness nestles in the palm of hands”. All this was culled by only a few glances. In addition, eftsoons the sensuous salutation of facial flesh, her eyes rummaged back and forth between the boyfriend and child. As if constantly ensuring for the sake of her own equilibrium–through his facial features and expressions–his acceptance of and approval of the child. The look that said “Please be on your best behavior child and be as warm to him, so as not to torpedo this wonderful thing unfolding here.”
I perceived and knew that the emotional dependency, vulnerability, and neediness would forever place her at a compromising disadvantage in the relationship. I knew, without a doubt, such insecurity and psychic vulnerability of the heart will always make the individual ripe for emotional exploitation in varying manifestations. Even when no base intentions are present. It would always compel compliance and adjustment to an alien will in order to mask the fragility of its own weakness. Its romantic anthem is capitulation. In its final consummation such affectionate coinage–that appears to be love as its “heads” but is trailed by fear as its “tails”–will never truly bring lasting happiness and peace in the person, which requires a certain measure of stable self-sufficiency. Of course, all this does not necessitate or assume any vestige of nefarious tendencies in the partner. No. Whether the other party is benevolent or malignant, the principle and its ineluctable effects within the other party does not change. Such “love” appeared to me as suffocation, as an unhealthy vassalage clinging, as an enervating barnacle which deprives of the spaciousness and freedom of stable affection that is never “needy or dependent”.
After a spell, I exited the library with my son and became absorbed in the palatial expanses of a galactic reverie. I knew everything we are permitted to see and experience of another can bring personal value only when we extract the principles and apply it to ourselves in our own conditions. Thus I sharpened the scalpel and surgically incised my own heart to detect consanguineous predilections.
Some questions I asked. In my life…
Am I truly free of desirous attachments to people and things?
Am I emotionally dependent on marriage, children, career, family?
When I write, speak or work, am I dependent on acknowledgment and applause?
Is my sense of worth derived from the pride of my career pursuits? What if I am suddenly unemployed?
If everything I hold dear from people, pursuits, places and things were taken from me, how would I inwardly stand?
Is your trust and conviction in the Light, in God, strong enough to withstand the turbulent lashes and howling winds of alternating circumstances?
Searching my heart, I realized I was not very different than the lady. Only my attachments, deep within, manifests in a different form. But only when we become free, truly free of neediness to anything can we be inwardly stable and find happiness. Only when we are not afraid to lose anything can we properly make use of everything. Only then are we not dependent on anyone, anything or any condition, and only then can we engage with it from an orientation that gives it space without suffocating it with our narrow and constricting desires. I realized I must get to this point, regardless of the effort. I must become strong in my dependency for the Will of God alone and nothing else. I must become anchored in His Laws of Creation that bear witness to His Infinite Love. I must, through the most inflexible self-conquest, reach this point.
For only when we stand in this unflinchingly will we truly know peace, freedom and happiness. Only then can we properly engage with others from an orientation and spaciousness that approximates true love that never suffocates. The goal is clear, crystal clear. The path is as long as the help is great, yet possible, yet hopeful, yet invigorating and compelling.
For this insight, thanks therefore to the lady in the library. May she in the course of her experiences conquer herself as I seek to conquer myself in the endless continuum of human experiences toward the Light of God. Towards peace, toward everlasting bliss. Where alone we are truly at home.
~Ikenna Q Ezealah