I have to tell you
I haven’t thought about the statement for over 20 years, but I remembered it today as I lost yet another beloved pet. In recalling the past (I wanted to save my children from the eventual pain of a pet dying and was overridden), I realized that day was my first foray into pet ownership. I realize that, even as an adult, I don’t know if I will ever get used to the losing part of the equation. As I look back at my life (beyond pets too) I ponder the saying “Is it better to have loved and lost, or to never have loved at all?” – I can’t say I know the answer.
Today came unexpectedly (which was different from the gradual demise of two dogs and an old-age kitty within the last 3 years) – my little female sugar glider was lethargic and I took her into the vet thinking it was just malaise of some sort. When the bad news came that she was dehydrated and would have only a 10-15% chance of surviving a necessary surgery, I said a tearful goodbye and she was euthanized. I cried in the office, I cried in my car, and I’m crying as I write this. Crazy? Perhaps, but she was the cutest, most gentle little creature and a mate to my little male, and I loved her. And, I believe she loved me back.
As a short aside, I came into sugar glider “parenting” 9 years ago- just a few months after my daughter gifted one to her boyfriend as a birthday present. Somehow, he (the sugar glider not the boyfriend) ended up living with me and I’ve been in love with the little creatures since. Up until today, I had a fixed pair of sugar gliders (they do well in pairs when one is fixed) who were halfway through their expected 15-year lifespan.
I know that loss is a part of life…but
I just can’t seem to get used to it. I understand that every living thing evolves, changes, moves away, grows up, dies, becomes another person or simply disengages – and I can accept that easily when love is not involved. It’s the loss part that inevitably comes with loving pets, people, friends, lovers, where I have a problem.
It seems like I am on a “losing streak” these days having lost two dogs, one cat and one sugar glider in the space of less than three years; along with several “toxic friendships” (all take and no give) that I no longer could accept.
Pets are wonderful — when you give them love, they love you back unconditionally – wow, I like that. But the pain of loss makes me wonder sometimes whether the loving part is worth it.
Okay, now I’m not talking just about pets anymore. I think it applies to friends, family, husbands, wives, lovers, people everywhere!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I believe in reciprocal love. I think that we can love, but we really cannot ever expect that love to be reciprocated. One of my favorite sayings is: Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option – and I am learning to apply it to all types of relationships. (I haven’t yet perfected this – I still get fooled into relationships now and again, but I’m getting more savvy at taking care of me first!)
I know I have the capacity and the goodness to love other people, I just don’t think it necessarily ever comes back. When I am there for someone when he/she needs support, when I give fully of myself and become vulnerable, when I really love someone, I have to realize that it will someday result in a loss – AND – furthermore, it may not be reciprocal. I wonder if the emotion of feeling like you are “in love” and feeling like such love is reciprocated is really worth it in the end.
With half of marriages ending in divorce, and many like mine were wake up calls after being married to the wrong person for half my life, and with so many people fixated on changing others, I wonder why anyone bothers to invest in love at all.
Or, maybe my experience with “love” was really not love at all. If love means that someone else accepts and supports you unconditionally, without defenses or conditions, then perhaps I have never been loved. Maybe the “expectation” that love should be reciprocal or kind is simply misguided on my part!
I do believe that I have experienced pockets of love in my life – I believe that my parents, my children, my pets, a few close friends, and myself DO love me and I am truly blessed with them all. Any other expectations of love, as I am feeling today, are simply beyond reality – and I can deal with that. People choose to love or not, and I am learning to watch people’s actions over the “I love you” words.
Am I alone in my feelings towards love and loss? At this point, I’m not sure loving anew would ever be worth the loss down the road. What do you think?
p.s., Rest in peace little glider… I miss you.
Have a great weekend all!