“If you see someone across a crowded room and your eyes lock and your knees tremble… run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.” John Bradshaw, maven of the codependency movement, said that to me back in, oh, maybe 1988. I thought he was an idiot. What else is worth living for than that exquisite flutter, that intoxicating rush of erotic anticipation?
Well, I’ve been wrung out and spin-dried a few times since 1988, and I finally see what Bradshaw was talking about. The problem isn’t the flutter. The problem is the intoxicating. Anything that gets you high holds within it a promise that, at some point, you will crash.
The question is, where’s your pain threshold? For some people, the party is worth the price of the hangover. For others, the price is too high. I can do a night staring at an unringing phone. We’ve all been there and survived. I can block out an hour or two for wallowing. But when it devolves into weeks of nausea and sleeplessness and breaking out in public tears… up with that I will not put. (Grammar joke. Sorry.)
When what it’s doing for me is overpowered by what it’s doing to me… that’s when I stop and reconnoiter.
Bradshaw’s theory was that when you see a person and feel an instant connection, it’s not because you are karmic soul pairs. It’s because that person hooks into some childhood trauma that we don’t recognize or remember. He drops his left shoulder like Daddy does. Her hair catches the light just like Mom’s. I lean more toward a biochemical theory: A fellow love addict is broadcasting on the same pheromone wavelength as you are. We love junkies find one another… in the dark and in another language, if need be.
That doesn’t mean it’s not hot. It’s waaay hot. But it blows holes in our culturally endorsed notions of love at first sight. Think back to your first soulmate, your first true love. Remember that delicious feeling? Okay, think about that person as they are today. Yes, including the extra 30 pounds. The delicious feeling is MIA. Next, think about your latest soulmate. Same delicious feeling. Now think of three or four more trueloves – come on, we all have a few rattling around – and remember that delicious feeling. Picture them standing in a row, and picture that feeling as a radiant glow that attaches itself to one, then another, then another.
Different faces, same feeling. What’s special and wonderful and intoxicating isn’t Him or Her at all. It’s the glow. We associate the glow with the person, and so pine for the person, long for the person, kill for the person and die for the person… but it was really the glow itself that captivated us. Like some Star Trek alien sprite that inhabits human bodies and makes them irresistible. It’s not for nothing Cupid is portrayed as an imp with a lethal weapon.
I’m all for romance. I just don’t want to bleed to death.