How does one fall out of love?! Lorraine

Dear Lorraine,

    You don't give away much information! Would I be right in guessing that the 'one' is yourself? Falling out of love: is it something you are just thinking about in a general way, or is it something you are already in the horrors of? And are you a person of few words, or is it that the subject is too painful to write longer about? Since I don't know the answers to these questions, I have to shoot in the dark! I'm sorry if a lot of what I say goes astray.
     If you want to fall out of love, part of you already has: your mind and will. Then what is left is addiction. Any wounded veteran can tell you: human beings, not heroin or marijuana, are the most addictive substances in the world! So don't be shocked at yourself for getting hooked! The chances were always high that you would: there are human beings everywhere!
     Are you ready for a dose of very strong medicine? Just glance at it first, and if it looks too strong, skip it! It's from the writings of a wise man, Scott Morrison.
     "Our problems are not with love, but with the things we call love, which are really clinging, craving, depending, projecting, manipulating, and trying to control. These bring endless misery and loneliness. They are the process by which we torture ourselves unknowingly, out of ignorance. When we confuse and betray ourselves by pretending these have something to do with love, we trade our sweetest happiness and peace for a front row seat in any number of hell realms."
     Strong medicine, but I would not make light of your pain by offering you a palliative. Why not try and learn about addiction from the experts - for example, from Alcoholics Anonymous? Their twelve-step guide to recovery embodies the deepest and most practical wisdom. Read some of their literature and adapt it to your own case. Self-pity, they know, is the trap in which many come to grief. Also: distorted thinking, resentment, rationalising…. There! - that's a practical step. They hand their lives over to "the Higher Power" every day, and they ask to stay sober just for today.
     A recovering alcoholic once told me that in his drinking days he saw a large notice one evening in a pub: 'Free drink here tomorrow!' He managed to find the same pub the next day, and stepping inside he saw that the notice was still there, 'Free drink here tomorrow!' He enquired of the barman, who said, "Yes, just as the notice says: tomorrow!" In his befuddled brain he knew that something was escaping him! The free drink was so near and yet so far! He looked up the word 'tomorrow' in a dictionary. "The day after today," it said. But every day when it comes is today, he told himself. It was a kind of enlightenment! "The word 'tomorrow' (he told me) must be the only word in the English language that has no meaning!" When you look at the future you probably see nothing but an endless succession of days without your former friend. So just look at today. Everything passes. You fell in love, but you can't fall out of it - you have to climb out. The hard way is probably the only way in the end, and you will be a deeper person after this. There are things that can be understood only after your heart is broken. The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote, "People often describe the process of growing closer to God as climbing a spiritual ladder. This may seem to be an apt metaphor. But only when you stumble and fall off the ladder, plunging into the depths below, do you truly come close to God."
     When you begin your struggle (if you are not already in the throes of it) you may try to move, as many do, towards hatred. We have always been told that the opposite of love is hate. It is not true. To hate someone is to be deeply involved with them at the emotional level; love and hate have a lot in common. The real opposite of love is indifference. If you are attempting to hate that other person it is useful to know that the more you succeed the more you will fail; you will be even more entangled in the end. Attempting to hate is like attempting to fall in love: the effort involved is enough to prove that it is not real. It requires something else.
     The truth will set us free; everything else will tie us up in knots. Sometimes shout to yourself: "Cling to the truth!" - the truth of what you feel, the truth of now, the truth of your situation, the truth of the other person's situation. Don't exaggerate or put a different face on anything. Look at now, not at tomorrow. "I know a man" (as St Paul put it) who on a winter evening sat alone before an image of Christ, and made absolutely no attempt to evade or explain anything; he sat in the December darkness, with nothing but the naked promise, "the truth will set you free." It was a turning point, a moment in which something very deep was learned, something to be grateful for till the end of one's life.
     You know God's vulnerability now because you are vulnerable yourself. Life is here, trembling, mortal and profoundly human. This emotional upheaval that you are probably feeling now is a path to God.

    God bless and strengthen you,

Donagh O'Shea

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