Love is the only form of madness which most of us gladly seek.
I came across an anonymous post on a social media site in which a man was gushing about his happiness at finding the love of his life.
“I found her,” he wrote. “In the most bizarre place, I met the woman who has become the most important person in my life — and my lifelong partner.”
To “find” someone implies that she was lost — or that there was someone he had always needed to find. Is he crazy? Or is this the most clearly he will ever see this world?
“I lost hope for the longest time,” he wrote. “Thinking no one will ever be able to understand me. To really take time to get to know me. I thought I was always going to be alone in this world. I’ve always felt like an outsider from this world. Like everything I do is wrong. Like the person I am is just not how a person is meant to be.”
I know exactly what he felt. Do you?
“And then, just like that, one day you showed up and said the words, ‘You will fall in love with me,’” he wrote. “You understand me. You can relate to me. You care about me. The same way I can understand you. Nine months later and I’m in love.”
When we fall in love, we are all delusional in some ways. The woman I love is the most beautiful in the world. I am sure of that. But millions of other men are also sure they’re in love with the most beautiful woman in the world.
Even when we see the faults of the one we love, we minimize those faults. We make excuses for that person. We are incredibly eager to put that person into the best light. We don’t want to hear about his or her faults. Even if someone who really knows the person tells us something terrible, we don’t want to hear it.
Being in love is also being in denial about some things.
“To me, you are the perfect women,” the gushing anonymous man wrote. “On the outside, you are drop dead gorgeous. … You are just the most attractive person I have ever met. It’s not even an exaggeration. But I won a lottery and it goes beyond just her looks.”
None of us want to believe we have fallen for someone just for his or her beauty or physical appearance. Something about the mental alchemy of love turns a person into something far more than that. And we mean it when we feel it for the first time.
“You are much more than just someone I love,” he wrote. “You are my best friend, too. And you are easily the best thing that has happened or will ever happen to me. Every moment with you is special. And the moments without you are dreadful.”
When you love someone, there is nothing worse than being separated from that loved one. What else would make people leave their homes and move to faraway cities or states or even countries? What else would make us willing to risk everything on the character and honesty and words of another human being — one who we sometimes barely know?
“You are so beautiful on the inside,” he wrote. “A heart that’s too kind for this world. Thoughts and beliefs that are so individual to you it really makes you different. In a very special way. You really take time to take care of me. I can feel you putting me over yourself and it’s so sweet. It made me cry last night.”
When we love, we see the best in the other. And that wellspring of inner emotion bubbles up in such powerful ways that it really can make us cry. How many other things can do that?
“You are the one I will live the rest of my life with,” he wrote. “To live and die by your side is my dream. Because if it’s not you, then right now I am just in a beautiful dream that I hope never ends. I love you.”
Love has caused more grief for me than anything else in my life. As much pain as I experienced because of my father’s narcissism and my mother’s abandonment of us, it hurts worse to be in love and not have the one I love.
In 1931, King Edward VIII of Great Britain was introduced to an American woman named Wallis Simpson. She was married at the time, but Edward fell deeply in love with her — and she fell in love with him.
By 1934, the pair had become clandestine lovers and they wanted to marry, but the Church of England would not allow the king — the nominal head of the church — to marry a divorced woman while her ex-husband was still alive. It was a political and personal crisis for the king.
Faced with a choice between remaining king and being with Wallis, Edward did the only thing which love would allow. He gave up his throne in order to marry the love of his life.
In his radio address following his abdication, Edward explained his decision in this way.
“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love,” he said.
Most men would do anything to be a king. Many would kill or lie or steal or conquer lands. Many dream of power and position and honor. But Edward VIII chose love.
Wallis divorced her husband in order to marry Edward. They remained together for 35 years, until his death.
Love makes us do things which we wouldn’t otherwise imagine doing. It changes our priorities. It makes us hurt. It can lead us to lose all we have.
But this madness is the amazing gift of the gods, as the Greeks believed. If it is mental illness, it is a madness which can give us a reason to live, a reason to strive, a reason to achieve.
If love is madness — as I think it is — I don’t want a cure. I want love, with all its madness and angst and joy.
More than anything in this world, I need the love and presence of the woman I love. That is madness, but it is a willing choice.