Not too long ago, I was out on the back patio of The Fish talking with my boss after work was done, about life and how people are. In the middle of the conversation, a couple of people who had gotten into a relationship at work and had later broken up, became the topic of our discussion. He said something to me that stuck.
He mentioned that he was afraid the guy wasn’t going to come back from the hurt he was experiencing. That it’s a curse that is put upon us. Humans have this awful tendency to hurt one another for little to no reason, and with even less provocation. That we are doomed, in a sense, to always be fighting a losing battle with each other. I asked what exactly he meant and he went on to explain…
“You see…” he said to me, “…getting into relationships like that where the other party burns you that bad, whether they meant to or not, makes you callous. My wife is wonderful, and I love her to death, but she deserves a lot more than I give her, and I credit that to how badly I was burned when I was your guys’ age. Back then, I was the romantic, the do-anything-for-you type of guy. I bought flowers, I stopped in to see them on bad days, I did everything that they asked for and they mulled me over and hurt me. It happened countless times. Eventually, I just got so pissed and hurt that I quit trying. My wife deserves all of that because of how wonderful she is, but I don’t give it to her, because I think I’m afraid that I’ll get burned again. That’s what’s really sad.”
He’s right. He’s actually profoundly right, and it made me think about myself as a person. He went on to simplify his speech by saying that when you’re young and you have a bunch of pets, if they all get sick and die, then as you grow up you’ll stop looking at having a pet as a thing that brings you joy and love, and more of a thing that hurts you and makes you feel sorrow. That it changes from this wholesome love to this hollow sort of pain and its human nature to just give in and accept that.
It floored me, because without realizing it he nailed something that I’ve been feeling about myself for a long time. I’ve fallen in and out of love with a handful of girls and most of those relationships didn’t end well. Either I was too needy, or tried too hard, or didn’t try enough. I fantastic quality about me is that if I’m going, I’m going all out or I’m not going at all. It’s a bummer and it’s something that I’m trying to fix, but I still have a ways to go, I think.
It’s just sad to me that we can so easily be lumped in with the feelings you get when your favorite pet passes away. I think that we all sort of get into that mood. We start to visualize ourselves as less of a person and more of a throw away doll or a figurine that couldn’t quite outlast the weather of a cold winter. We put ourselves on the line and get burned time and time again. I have so many friends and know so many people that are this way. Including myself. I can’t count the number of days it’s been since I really devoted myself to someone without it coming back on me and hurting me, whether it was my fault or not.
That really sucks, you know?
But hey, there’s always hope. If we’re going to be like animals, I’m going to be like a dog. Have you ever watched a dog that gets in trouble or get popped by its master? It gets this pitiful ashamed look on its face and sulks for a while, but the next time you come home it opens up and loves you again. It pants and licks your hand as you feed and water it. It barks when you pull in the driveway because it knows that you’re home. It forgets about that pain.
Humans, however, are just a bit more complicated than that. It’s hard for us to just forget about pain. We like to hold on to it until it scars our insides. It’s a bad habit, an awful one that will one day destroy us. But hey, we keep going. That’s one stark difference between humans and animals. Between those who have been hurt and the lucky few who have never felt that crushing emotional pain. We keep going. We don’t stop.
We sort of become like dogs. Sure, the one we are showing the affection to is different in many cases, but still, we forget that pain. We put it out of our minds.
Rather, it isn’t so much as forgetting as it is forgiving. I’ve watched my moms dog act up, and she gets after him and raises her voice. He tucks tail and hides from her until he thinks she is done yelling at him and then once he feels that it is safe, he comes back upstairs. It’s something special, the ability to forgive pain and hurt.
This year is all about fighting your fears, and I’ll lay my biggest one out on the table right now.
I’m horrified of being hurt again. I’m scared. I don’t trust women that I’m interested in because statistically, she is going to break me. Yet I still fall, and I still try.
Because for all the wonderful traits that dogs have, sometimes when their masters really beat them. I mean to let blood out, to abuse them for pleasure, those dogs will forgive and forget and come running back. Humans don’t do that, we move on. We grow from our pain and that’s why it’s so important.
If you feel like I do tonight and you are hurting because of a failed relationship or the inability to figure all this love stuff out, don’t worry, I am too. There is a lot in this life that we have yet to understand and there is a lot in this life that we fear. It’s just a matter of getting up everyday to fight those things. To keep going, despite how every fiber of your being is screaming at you, telling you that it’s no use. That there is no reason for you to try, that you should just give up.
No thanks. I’m stubborn. I’m not giving up on loving people because of a few bad experiences. I hope that you don’t either.
My boss is right about one thing. Pets die, love dies. But those things live on inside of us, don’t they? They cling right next to our hearts as memories for us to look over. The dog that shredded my nose when I was four or five years old. The first girl who broke my heart when I was thirteen. The time my dog bit my hand and sliced a finger open, he was just a puppy. He wanted to play. He wanted to have fun. The time a girl cheated on me because she didn’t think we were serious, when I very much did. She just wanted to play, She wanted to have fun.
These are the things that make us callous, but you know what? That dog from way back when, He’s still my favorite. I miss him tons, because through it all, he loved me. I knew that. I have good memories of him too. The dog we have now? He will come downstairs when he knows I’ve had a bad day and lay his head on my lap, just to tell me that he’s there.
I don’t know what happened to those girls anymore. I hope they’re happy. I hope that they didn’t get callous and angry like I did. I hope that wherever they’re at, they’re smiling big stupid grins, full of big stupid love. I hope that they stopped carrying around the leashes. God knows I took mine off, if you’re anything like me… I hope that you figure out soon that you aren’t just a pet to be played with. You are someone very real and passionate and so worth loving…
That’s all for today. I hope you just know that. Don’t let failed love hurt you. Let those burns stoke the fire inside of you and make you love even harder the next time. That’s what life is all about, love. Don’t forget to take a dog for a walk too. It will do wonders for your soul. I promise you that, just make sure it’s a good one that will be with you when you’re upset over all the hardships in life. Make sure you find a pet that can read your emotions. There is nothing greater in this world that pure unfiltered love, even from a house dog. That’s a fact.