Pat Benatar, or her songwriter, really got it right. It is a war out there, and people in love are on the front lines. Like wounded soldiers, thousands fall every day, bloody and bruised. Unable to get back up.
People in relationships where love is alive take bullets for their loved ones all the time. Or try to dodge the verbal missiles of their beloved. It happens in every type of relationship, be it husband and wife, mother and daughter, or brother and sister.
Love is the most powerful emotion there is. After all, love can lead to a wide-ranging array of other feelings: passion (or compassion), empathy, and loyalty. Conversely, it may also give rise to jealousy, mistrust, and anger. Even hate. It really depends on how the beloved one treats someone else’s love. How much it matters to them. Or how deeply they feel love in return.
When love withers, it’s usually not because it died a natural death. It’s because two people stopped trying. Loving someone is hard work. Sometimes, excruciatingly so. It doesn’t matter if you’re best friends, siblings, lovers, or spouses. Which is why, if you love someone, you might want to think of that relationship as a job. Not a chore you grudgingly perform, like cleaning the toilet or taking out the trash. Not a debt you owe that you can’t ever seem to find the cash to repay. But as a job you love and would willingly do without receiving a cent in return. Your dream job, if you will.
In these days of instant gratification and electronic umbilical cords, we’re more disconnected than ever. We’re growing farther apart, so working on a relationship is getting harder. It takes more time and energy, rather than less. And this as our lives are becoming more chaotic, so much so that all we really want to do when we have a few free minutes is crash in front of the computer or the TV, or maybe just fall, exhausted, onto our bed.
Don’t do it! Don’t give in to that deceptive desire. That’s how love becomes a battlefield, with shrapnel flying every which way. If you’re going to do battle, then fight to keep love alive.
Because we–none of us–can do without love. Without it, we die. For with love comes touch. Without love, we don’t have skin-to-skin contact, whether that means a pat on the back, a hearty, two-armed hug, or an assorted variety of kisses or caresses. Sadly, without human touch, we lose part of our humanity. That’s when we begin to shrivel up and die, or slowly lose touch with what is good and right in the world. Or fail to make sound decisions. Or perhaps, if we’re deprived of love and human touch from childhood, we never gain the ability to even learn how.
It’s not getting any easier, but it is becoming tremendously important to show and feel love these days. To stay in love, if you already are. To reach out and seek love, if it’s missing in your life. To tell your mother or father or sister or brother or significant other that they are loved. That you love them. No matter what firearm has come your way. Tried to kill this life-sustaining emotion.
One word is all that’s needed, when it comes to love being a battlefield.
Because, as Max Muller said, “A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and a man cannot live without love.”
Editor’s note: Berry and another West Virginia author, Geoff Fuller (Full Bone Moon), have recently teamed up to write the authorized version of the Skylar Neese murder. Berry’s TEDx talk, given April 13 at Connecticut College, is now live. Berry is the first recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change. She speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country. Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read an excerpt, please go to the Sister of Silence site. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.”