By Marcus Altheimer
Let me first start with a poem By Tupac:
When your hero falls from grace all fairy tales R uncovered, myths exposed, pain magnified and the greatest pain discovered. U taught me 2 B strong but I’m confused 2 C U so weak, U said 2 never give up and it hurts 2 C U welcome defeat. When your hero falls so do the stars and so does the perception of tomorrow, without my hero there is only me alone 2 deal with the sorrow. Your heart ceases 2 work and your soul is not happy at all, what R U expected 2 do when your only hero falls.
While Tupac’s hero differs from my personal interpretation of his poem, the message is universal and the pain remains the same.
Think of the little child with visions of the North Pole and a jolly Santa Claus. A son with grand thoughts that all will be well once his father comes into his life. Or a person who has lost a love, believing that no one else could ever fill the void. In all will these examples joy comes from the promise of fantasies, dreams of the unknown, hope for a better future, memories of what was and images of what could be.
Ive heard said, What’s stimulating about relationships is the promise of what could be. No matter if those relationships are real, platonic, familial, or just imaginary, they give men, women and childern something to believe in.
But what happens when the opportunity presents itself to make our dreams a reality, but is then shattered by a nightmare? Nothing is as we expected, or as Tupac says, our hero falls from grace.
Santa Claus turns out to be a drunken old man in the mall, dad never shows up or if he does he thinks money will make up for his absence, or after years of wishing for a reunification with your lost love, that person turns out to be emotionally damaged with a lot of extra baggage.
The question that must be asked when reality slaps us in the face is, “Does love have the power to persevere through adversity?” I believe if the love is genuine, then the answer is undoubtedly yes.
In order for any love to be lasting it must be genuine, filled with essential qualities such as trust, honesty, communication and understanding. These qualities have the power to turn any short-lived infatuation into a genuine love.
Trust is more important then just trusting your partner to be faithful. In his book ‘When Love Is By Choice Instead Of Chance’ C. Anthony Taylor notes that, “We have to trust people to accept us for who we are…. We have to trust people to be sincere about the words they use to express their feelings to us.” In my experience nothing outside of the truth is absolute, and since trust is the basis of truth, it should be upheld and protected in its highest standard.
Communication and more importantly, honest communication, is the fundamental prerequisite to the inner workings of a healthy relationship. It allows both partners to express who they are as well as the expectations the have mentally, emotionally and physically. Honest communication must be a constant and is “Key to building up a relationships immune system; thereby making it not vulnerable to unnecessary vulnerabilities caused by dishonesty.” (Taylor).
Understanding is derived from other qualities such as Knowledge, Wisdom, empathy, sympathy, unselfishness, ect. It is a vital building block needed in the foundation of any genuine relationship. Understanding gives partners the power to be patient with each other, enabling them to give the benefit of doubt during inevitable times of human error.
Such acts of love must be given unconditionally, meaning without stipulations. When these qualities are freely given and are constantly practiced, they become tools to help withstand all adversity, even time.
Time is an adversity because it is always against us, yet even without it being on our side, genuine love has the ability to persevere through it. In Harold Percival’s book ‘Thinking An Destiny,’ he defines time as, “A means to measure day, night, month and year. Using these changing natural phenomenon because they are regular and produce the seasons, as marks to measure the flowing streams of events in life: Sowing, reaping, waking, sleeping, past, future, near and far.”
So we measure our lifetime by days, months and years. Broke down even further in o hours, minutes and moments. Yet while everyone is bustling around so concerned with not wasting a single breath of any moment, they unknowingly let life pass them by. An expression relates by saying, “Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” And while the breaths we take in our lifetime are numerous and forgettable, the moments that take our breath away are rare and memorable, just like love. Thus one of the many reasons love will withstand the test of time is because when genuine, it creates lasting moments to reflect on in the future. Memories of moments when two souls were afforded the opportunity to connect. Such a sincere connection cannot be severed by the distance of time, for destiny is eternal.
When it comes to finding proof that love will persevere through adversity, the best to start would be adverse situations, such as prisons. Confirmation that love can conquer all is evident in the rising number of incarcerated men and women marrying and sustaining lasting relationships from behind bars. These relationships are often nurtured through years and in some cases life. Sophie Goodchild’s article in “The Independent,” titled ‘Jailbirds Make Good Lovebirds,’ suggested that, “Marriage in which a husband or wife is a jailed felon are less likely to end in divorce then a conventional union according to the first ever study of prison relationships. Only 1 in 9 weddings between criminals in jail and their partners end in divorce. This is almost three times more successful then the national rate.” The mentioned study was conducted by Angela Devlin, a respected author and expert on Britain’s penal system. It was a three year study that found the .ain reason these relationships are successful is due to the long courtships. In another study done in New York prisons, proof was given that married men able to participate in family reunification programs, where husband and wife may spend a couple days together in a private setting, have a recidivism rate of 19.6% compared to the general populations recidivism rate of 42.1%. This not only demonstrates the power of love persevering through adversity, but also love’s direct correlation to lowering recidivism.
Being incarcerated myself, I am surrounded by successful examples of love persevering through the adversity of prison. When I asked my comrade DJ, who is serving a life sentence, how he and his wife deal with the physical distancing, he smiled and replied, “Confidently, creatively and consistently.”
While those of us behind bars, as well as our partners, may at times find it difficult to deal with the meager level of intimacy allowed in the prison setting, this difficulty breeds an opportunity which allows us to devote even more time to building a genuine connection. Its time spent learning to love each other, work on our imperfections, share our inner struggles and appreciate each other for who we truly are mentally, emotionally and spiritually, rather then getting caught up in what we have to offer physically, materially and financially. It’s time spent peeling back the layers of defenses that have put up in response to past harms. It is spent revealing our deepest an truest selves, which is a breath of fresh air in this world of facades.
Those of us who take this time to connect with family, friends and intimate partner’s that deeply, have made the transformation from being emotionally bankrupt to what Bell Hooks, in her insightful book ‘The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity and Love,’ identified when quoting Olga Silverstein, ‘Liberated men who area empathic, strong, autonomous, connected, responsible to self, family, friends and capable of understanding how these responsibilities are inseparable.’ This shift in consciousness allows us to be ‘Whole, undivided selves practicing emotional discernment.’ (Hooks). This often leads to more stable relationships then we, or the women we become involved with, have ever had.
Now I’m not suggesting that relationships are immune to everyday adversity, so it only seems fair to address a couple situations that could undermine my original thesis statement that love has the ability to persevere through adversity. Some factors have the power to make it very hard to remain loving.
One factor could be if the other person makes no effort in the relationship. In such a situation where one involved has no will to turn towards a meaningful relationship, the chances of it happening or of making them are slim to none. In order for any love to be genuinely healthy an lasting, the love must be mutual.
A second factor that has the power to diminish love is continued damaging acts committed against you or your partner by each other. For some this could be one larger act, other may try to ride it out and allow many destructive acts to be committed before they become fed up, if ever. In such cases I’m an advocate of being patient with your loved one if the love is truly genuine, except when it comes to mental or psychological abuse.
Let the love you should have for yourself be stronger then allowing any kind of abuse to continually take place. Don’t allow your patience to become an excuse for cowardice, frightening you from leaving the situation alone.
Ultimately love can diminish for different reasons among various couples, a d while some may leave the situation with a sigh of relief, other might feel as if their hearts have been ripped from their chest, thrown to the ground an stomped on.
I once encompassed this idea in a poem entitled ‘When love fades’
‘When love begins to fade we wonder what has happened, why a heavy heart has replaced the joy an constant laughing; When love begins to fade happy endings no longer seem real, throat tightens up, wandering lost and sorrow is all you feel; The sun no longer rises and the moon don’t light the night, The stars begin to fade away and nothing at all seems right; The flowers no longer bloom and all the bees have lost interest, and the birds no longer sing their song in the morning for all to witness; No one deserves to feel this pain, the most painful pain ever made, That only comes at certain times in life when love begins to fade.’
While love for another is painful when it begins to fade, we should. ever think of it as a personal failure. Such times are perfect to reacquaint and reflect on the love we should have for ourselves. The love that should be just as strong, if not stronger, then the love we give to others.
In conclusion, love is a powerful emotion; add it to genuineness and you have a combination able to take on the world, a combination of adversaries against all adversity. Even if, as Tupac says, ‘Your hero falls from grace,’ genuine love gives us the power to pick them up and stand by their side. In those sad situations where the rational thing o do is walk away, then genuine love of self gives us the power to stand tall through it all. Love has been the subject of many sonnets throughout history, endless songs over the centuries, and intense passion among individuals across the ages.
With that said I’ll leave you with a quote from one of India’s greatest mystic’s, Marabai, who eloquently sums everything up.
“For those who have truly fallen in love, ho have learned to relate o each other totally, in body, spirit, mind and soul, who have willingly given their all to the great undertaking of committed love, every challenge is like the refiners fire that heats, melts, burns and sears to create a precious jewel. Each obstacle is a reminder that we are changeable, that we can grow and be transformed, that broken things can mend, that shattered relationships can be repaired. Each conflict tests our ability to heal and our belief in healing. Each healing can take us deeper and deeper levels of love, undreamed of insights and unheard of understandings.”
Questions, agree or disagree? Please feel free to write me. My info is on the CONTACT page.