Love Medicine

I don’t know about you, but even being in love, sometimes I want to throw the whole man away and start over. Or be done altogether. If there’s a cure for love, I haven’t found it. Love has been called the “disease of the soul.” Disease ravages the body, deteriorates the mind, eats away at the flesh and cartilage, rots the brain, bones break, organs malfunction, and the heart fails. Sometimes disease is exactly the way I would explain how he makes me feel.

Nobody goes around talking about how afflicted by love they are, except for maybe me. He is an affliction. He causes me more distress than any other person I know. He’s lucky he’s worth all the pain and suffering I go through to love him.

And remember, I said afflicted, not inflicted. He doesn’t inflict pain on me; he’s not brutal. He is the pain. As an affliction, love becomes the dominating force on the body, mind (and soul) the way disease comes to dominate a person. I don’t think disease is supposed to be a metaphor for love, and if it is, it’s not a very good one. Humanity is the affliction, and disease is a metaphor for the way we treat one another. Five minutes on Twitter will convince you of this. Humanity is a cesspool and we’re all swimming in it. The fact that there are more and more books on how to treat people from other cultures and with different sexual orientations with respect is a case in point. We are failing the bare minimum.

TL;DR: The human race is diseased by hatred. 

What we really need is a little love medicine, a holistic approach to love, if you will, something that considers all the separate parts of having a loving interaction with another person. Love in this sense has a broad definition for how people are treated more generally. Disease, like people, need to be treated and handled with care, and preferably a lot of love. A big dose of it.  If humanity began in love, then it has regressed before fully relapsing, and the prognosis is utter ruin if something isn’t done about this soon.

I’m suggesting love medicine for everyone’s black soul. Medicine doesn’t always cure disease, but it does help to slow it down, alleviate pain, and send people into remission where the disease (hatred) is stalled, instead of progressing. Progress is always good, unless we’re talking about disease. Nobody wants to see a disease progress. 

Good health is taken for granted. Everyone, except for hypochondriacs and WebMD doctors, wait until they’re sick to get a check-up. Most people wait until a relationship is failing before trying to bother doing anything about it. Scheduled date nights don’t count as routine check-ups. Anyone who has spent some amount of time in the hospital for whatever reason knows about the discharge papers detailing a plan of care, or an ongoing treatment plan. These are for chronic conditions that continuously flare up and recur over and over again. 

Love and hatred are both chronic conditions, but very often are found to be comorbid. Either one or the other predominates. Not saying anything at all because you don’t have something nice to say is not showing love. It is demonstrating some superhuman level of self-control. Whatever is left unsaid sits in your heart and will tell you whether you’re afflicted by love or hatred. Hatred sits on you like a malignant tumor that needs to be excised immediately before causing any further brain damage.

Love isn’t a treatment plan. It needs one the way water needs to be treated and free from fluoride before we can drink it. There are certain ways to handle someone with love. Let me tell you that nothing drives my blood pressure up more than the love of my life. He doesn’t even have to say anything, just exist, and suddenly I need magnesium in an IV before I die. I find simply ignoring him works wonders for the both of us, otherwise I will get nothing productive done.

I’m a little wary of health nuts who eat a plant-based diet, drink organic juice, and pop vitamin supplements for dessert. I think they might be onto something, though. Ever since I started taking natural vitamins with Omega-3s (you can’t even taste the fish oil) and extra folate, I haven’t gotten sick again. It’s preventative care.

Preventative care is a little something like symptom-spotting in love. You’re not looking for the red flags dictating someone is just a shitty person in general. Don’t worry, it’s not always you. Anger issues usually carry over from one relationship to the next.

That’s not to say someone with anger issues can’t or shouldn’t be loved (maybe cautiously). Preventative care means spotting the symptoms that tell you there is something wrong with them, not you, and not the relationship overall. It means constantly taking a back seat to observe someone else in their own natural habitat as if you were a doctor.

I should probably put in a disclaimer for the fixer-uppers who chronically date people who are broken as some kind of self-interested project. These people are ticks. Avoid at all costs. Usually your issues obscure theirs, and fixing yours makes them feel better about themselves. It’s an illusion.

A relationship can last a long time on life support. Sometimes pulling the plug is best for everyone involved. I’m no guru or love doctor. If there was a prescription for love, I’m not sure what it would be. Xanax for the angry ones and Adderall for the lazy ones, maybe. Regardless, the question remains the same: do the benefits of the medicine outweigh the side effects? I personally find walking around all day angry and hateful brings me no joy at the end of the day. After a day spent in love, though, I sleep like a baby. Believe it or not, the former is actually easier. I can write three heartbreak poems with the same energy it takes me to write one love poem. When I look back at what I wrote, I am more pleased with the ones that are loving. 

A lot of companies have a “good faith clause” in contracts between two or more parties. It’s the legal equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath doctors take. A good faith clause means acting in the best interests of the other party, while the Hippocratic Oath is a doctor’s pledge to treat a patient to the best of their ability. Imagine if something like this existed between two regular people on the street. Sickness is not always visible. With the exception of physically violent relationships, verbal and emotional trauma, the stuff you can’t prove exists, does the most damage. There’s a lot of truth in the saying about what kindness can do to a stranger.

I’ve been in the serving industry for more than ten years, and most of the people who come in are strangers to me. One woman told me she was depressed and that being around me was giving her energy, “perking” her up. She undid months of mental anguish for me.

Over the years, I’ve hardened to the rude comments and customers I get. The fact that I’ve had to harden should tell you everything you need to know about people. The passive aggressive customers express their displeasure by tipping less. My favorites are the ones who complain about the food as if I’m the one behind the line cooking. The most egregious customers shout your name across the restaurant in faux familiarity or grab your arm when you’re walking past to get your attention.

These are wrong ways to treat people. You cannot touch someone any time you want, customer or not. 

Most doctors don’t hesitate to switch your medicine if the side effects are disrupting your daily life. If someone wants to leave a relationship because they’re unhappy, emotionally drained, or it’s otherwise past resuscitation, everyone waits for a better reason. Emotional wounds grow like cysts in a relationship that need to be surgically operated on. Even when they’re removed, the tissue stays scarred and damaged, not always in a place you can see.

If I had a dime for every time a boyfriend told me I was bringing up the past (red flag, FYI), I could retire right now. A holistic approach to love means taking these sorts of things into consideration when handling another person. A doctor reviews a patient’s medical history before offering a diagnosis and treatment. It doesn’t go ignored. No doctor has ever accused me of bringing up the past when I mention high blood pressure in my history. The fact of the matter is that people come with pre-existing conditions. Some people, like me, are more damaged than most.

Someone who never does the dishes or helps you clean is not a chronic condition. Your human is broken. You do not need a new one. If you ask your human to do the dishes and they refuse every time, you need a new one because now we’re talking about a power struggle. Someone who doesn’t take an interest in your well-being is a chronically deteriorating condition. Gaslighting is a chronic condition. Lying can be a chronic condition if he is opening credit lines without telling you. Laziness is not a chronic condition, unless your house is on the verge of being declared uninhabitable and condemned. Dressing like a hobo is not a chronic condition. Getting DUIs is a chronic condition. Getting drunk is not always a chronic condition. If he buys a dog and you didn’t want one, you’ll have to deal. Breaking down doors is a red flag. Going through your phone is a red flag. Throwing things is a red flag. Never listening is a red flag. Asking you what’s for dinner three times a day is obnoxious, not a red flag.  Boredom is not a chronic condition, no matter how much you hate sports. Compliments don’t cover bullet-holes. Cleaning the house is not a compromise for not coming home the night before. If he throws you outside naked and locks the doors, throw the whole human away, stat. Buying you flowers is always a waste of money, no matter how much you love it. They’re going to die. Both of you are wasting money together. Red flag. Gifts don’t prove the existence of love. Forever is a relative term. It is the long con. Diamonds have real market value. Throwing all his shit out when he messes up beyond the point of return will bring you all the satisfaction you imagine.

Again, I am no love guru. 

Love itself is not a cure. Love itself needs a cure, and in this sense, people become doctors (congratulations on the PhD in humanity) for someone else, monitoring their whole health on an ongoing basis. For people with chronic health conditions, especially major concerns like cancer, there is literature to educate the patient and the caregiver. Most of the pamphlets are dedicated to helping you learn how to support someone emotionally through their health, possibly an end-of-life, crisis. Nothing like this exists for love or even relationships in general. Broken bones might always heal, but they don’t always reset back to the same place twice. 

Love shouldn’t be in hospice before it gets attention.

If You Leave a Lover Alone

If you leave a lover alone with her thoughts for twenty-four hours, here is what will happen: 

She will start by pining, consumed by her own sighs, and lost in the memory of her beloved. He occupies her thoughts day and night. She is in love to the point of distraction. Nothing holds her attention. She won’t take food or water. She will starve before she ever sees her beloved again. Her thoughts take a turn.

Her beloved is dead. His horse and carriage have turned over. He was killed in a duel. The victim of a political assassination. He jumped off the side of a cliff. The thought destroys her. There is no life after him. She goes through a list of things she has to live for, and nothing comes to mind. She doesn’t have time to mourn him. Her imagination is running away. She is coming up with fifty ways to die. She can live no more. Her life is already over. She throws herself into the abyss of despair. 

All feeling is gone. She is cold and calculating. All she needs is a plan. She thinks about flinging herself off a cliff, too. Maybe she’ll drown or drink cyanide. The possibilities are endless. She’s enraptured by her own imagination. How else could she do away with herself? A knife to the femoral arteries. Her father’s revolver he keeps in a drawer in the study. There’s some rope laying around. She could make a noose and tie herself to the willow tree outside. 

The willow tree. This is where her beloved first touched her hand. She wasn’t wearing any gloves, and he touched her! A reason for living springs to mind. Maybe he’s not dead. She has no proof. She has been locked in this room for far too long. Despair metamorphoses back into hope. Her heart begins to thaw. She decides to eat the first morsel of food she’s had in days. Clarity returns. Love reigns in her heart once more. 

Now she is flying. She takes no notice of the time. The sun rises and the sun sets. This is all she notices. She is optimistic. She finishes the duties she’s left neglected for the last fortnight. There is a tray of letters in the hall she hasn’t read yet. There is one from her beloved, and she really knows now that he is not dead. The letter is short. Her optimism fades to mortification.

He hates her. She has never been so absolutely certain of anything in her entire life. She couldn’t be sure he was dead. She’d rather him dead than hate her. She won’t give him the satisfaction of killing herself. He will have to hold on to his own hatred for her. She turns red. Her anger flares up. She has done nothing to deserve this. The burning inferno inside her turns cold. Her stomach drops.

What if she has done something to deserve his ill favor? She reads the letter over and over again. He has not said what she has done wrong. She makes a new list. The new list makes her want to die, too. It is everything she has done wrong ever in his presence.

She was too cold. She was too capricious. She was too bold. She was too honest. She had the audacity to approach him. Her manners were too affected. He hated her gowns. Her coiffure was too gaudy. Her curls too tight. She had no accomplishments. She was undomesticated. She showed her concern too soon. She preferred the tender charms of Petrarch to Baffo’s sonnets. Everything is wrong.

The willow tree. She should hang herself there. She has the memory all wrong. She has blown things wildly out of proportion. He didn’t touch her. He merely stumbled and grazed her arm. Her imagination has magnified the smallest detail. She has lost all sense. She can’t think straight. 

The next morning she doesn’t get out of bed. The maid comes and wakes her up. There is a gentleman caller in the drawing room. It all comes back to her. It is the fifteenth of the month. Her beloved is downstairs waiting for her. She wants to fall to pieces when she sees him.

She swoons. 

Bluebeard

Once upon a time, a beautiful maiden was walking through the forest when out of nowhere, a king stepped out of his golden coach and proposed to her. Frightened by his beard, which was totally blue, the maiden objected to marrying her suitor. Her father couldn’t believe his good luck, and after nagging his daughter relentlessly, she finally consented. However, the beard was so blue, it made one shudder somewhat to look at it, and so the maiden went to her brothers for some help.

“Dear brothers,” she cried, “if you hear me scream, drop everything at once and come to my aid immediately.” The brothers promised to do this, and said, “Farewell, dear sister. If we hear your voice, we will jump on our horses and be there as soon as possible.”

Then, the maiden hopped into the coach with Bluebeard and off he went with his new queen to a splendid castle, which was now also hers and would have made both of them very happy were it not for the king’s blue beard that, no matter how hard she tried, frightened her beyond belief.

One day, he had to go on a long journey and gave all the keys to the entire castle to the queen under one condition: she could go into every room and look at everything with the exception of one particular room, which was forbidden to her.

“If you open it,” he threatened her, “you will pay for it with your life.” The queen promised to do as he asked.

As soon as he left, she wasted no time opening every door one right after the other and saw many treasures that must have been gathered from around the world. Soon there were no more doors to open, except for the forbidden room. It was the only thing left on her mind. Curiosity gnawed at her as she turned the golden key over in her hand, wondering what was behind the last door. The queen would have willingly given up looking behind all the other doors if she could have just seen what was worth hiding in the last room. Since the key was made out of gold, she believed that something precious must be inside.

There was nothing precious inside. Instead, blood rushed towards the queen and she saw only carnage. The skeletons of dead women were hanging from the walls. Some still even had flesh on their body. Horrified by the ghastly scene, she slammed the door shut, accidentally dropping the key into a puddle of blood.Terrified that Bluebeard might discover what she had done, the queen tried to wipe away the blood, but to no avail; the bloodstains could not be erased. Out of desperation, she thrust the key into a pile of hay, thinking it would absorb the blood left on the key, but it was hopeless.

The next day, Bluebeard returned to the castle and asked for his keys back first thing. Heart pounding, the queen brought the bunch of keys back to the king as he requested, hoping he wouldn’t notice the golden key was missing. However, after counting all the keys, he looked straight into her eyes and said, “Where’s the key to the secret room?”

His queen blushed red as the blood she had seen. “It’s upstairs,” she stammered, “I misplaced it. I shall go and look for it tomorrow.”

“You’d better go now, dear wife. I need it. Today.”

“Oh, I might as well tell you. I lost it in the hay. I’ll have to go and search for it first.” Bluebeard was angry.

“You haven’t lost it,” he said. “Now you’ll enter the room whether you want to or not because you did not listen to me.”

The queen brought the key, still stained with blood, back to Bluebeard.

“Prepare yourself for your own death,” he told her, “because you shall die today.” Bluebeard grabbed a knife and started to sharpen it on the bottom step.

“Before I die, let me say my prayers,” the queen asked, and ran upstairs. As soon as she got to the window, she yelled to her brothers for help as loud as she could. Finally, she saw her three brothers riding as fast as they could towards her rescue just before her head was suddenly jerked backwards as Bluebeard grabbed her by the hair. He was just about to plunge his knife into her heart when her three brothers tore their sister from his hands. 

Once their sister was safe, the brothers went back to cut down Bluebeard with their swords. Afterwards, they hung him up next to the women he killed, and took their sister home with them.

Then, all the treasure that was once Bluebeard’s became hers.

The End

Cupid and Psyche

Once upon a time, there was a god and there was a mortal. Cupid is a god, while Psyche is a mortal. Not just any mortal though. She’s turning heads and Venus, a goddess, is not happy. She’s jealous. The attention Psyche gets interferes with Venus’ worship. Nobody actually likes Psyche. Men are content to look and wonder and adore and worship her, but she is passed on for marriage.

If it weren’t for Venus’ jealousy, there would be no story. Venus decides she wants to force Psyche to fall in love with a despicable and vile creature, so she calls in Cupid, and in an unforeseen turn of events, Cupid decides he does want Psyche when he sees her. What he doesn’t want is to tell anyone he likes a mortal, gods-forbid, especially not Venus, whom he has clearly failed.

Psyche’s parents are disturbed, naturally, by their daughter remaining so long unmarried. Her sisters have married well, even though they’re “inexpressibly inferior” to the “all-beautiful” Psyche. Psyche’s dad goes off to beg the god Apollo to do something about the situation, but Cupid beats him to the punch. He tells Apollo the whole story and he’s like “you’ve gotta lie for me, bro.” 

So Apollo does, naturally. Nobody can find out Cupid, a god, likes a mere mortal, especially not one who has been passed over by all the other mortals. Apollo says Psyche has no choice but to marry a “fearful winged serpent.”

Better dead than unmarried.

Dressed for a funeral, Psyche’s family leaves the poor girl to her doom. Psyche is glad the end has come for her at last. It’s unclear whether Psyche knows she’s getting married or thinks she’s going to die, for she knows not what terror comes for her. In another twist of events, Psyche is carried away by a wind and wakes up in a mansion.

A mansion!

And it’s for her! She has servants, music, a whole banquet table to herself with the most delicious food, and the most delightful baths; all the fear leaves Psyche. She’s convinced she’s found the lover and husband she has been waiting for, and that he’s not a monster or shape of terror. 

Of course she’s still unhappy, naturally. Except for the voices she hears, she’s alone. Psyche starts missing her sisters, who think she’s dead. Psyche’s god for a husband doesn’t want her family there, lest they discover his real identity. He gives in to her though, naturally.

Psyche’s family has not improved overnight. Her sisters are more than curious about her new lifestyle and her mysterious husband. Their jealousy evolves into envy: they want the stuff Psyche now has and they want to know who is the man behind it all. Psyche does the best she can to satiate her sisters’ curiosity.

Psyche becomes divided between her family and faceless husband. Her nameless sisters have sowed seeds of doubt, gaslighting her in contemporary terms, and Psyche falls to pieces. She’s uncertain, she’s unsure, and she didn’t listen to Cupid in the first place. She knows the truth about her family, but she doesn’t know the truth about her husband. She’s torn by doubt and distracted.

Cupid gets the whole spiel later and tells Psyche once more that no one can discover who he is because he’s a god, and Psyche is not, and Venus still doesn’t know anything.

The whole scene repeats itself. Psyche is interrogated and gaslighted, until she finally decides this is not how she’s going to live. When Psyche’s sisters hand her a plan for unveiling who her husband is, she runs with it. 

With a death wish in one hand, and a candle in the other, she sneaks into Cupid’s room while he’s sleeping.

Lo and behold! Her husband has the face of a god (literally) and the first thing Psyche wants to do is kill herself. What she actually does is drop hot oil all over him. He wakes up and runs away: “Love cannot live where there is no trust.”

Psyche blames herself, naturally. What do you expect from a mere mortal?

Meanwhile, Cupid is recovering at home from his burn and Psyche gets the bright idea to ask Venus for help, secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of her husband instead. Venus scorns Psyche and puts her on a wild goose chase with a series of impossible tasks. One after another, Psyche wipes them out.

Alas! Nothing she does captures the attention of her husband. Psyche wants to die a second time. Indifference finally overtakes Psyche when she returns from Hell. She’s exhausted.

Cupid decides now is a good time to pop back up the minute Psyche lays down to rest. Turns out watching Psyche go to Hell did something for him. He’s also healed at this time and finally calls the whole assembly of gods together, proposing to make Psyche immortal.

This, of course, completely changed the situation. Venus has nothing further to say and so the two live happily ever after, finally married in front of all.

Moral: Appearances matter.

The End