I met Nick in 1965. I was 20, he was 26. He was my first boyfriend; my first love; my first lover. I broke it off 5 years later. We got back together around 1983 and that lasted about 4 years. We remained casual friends and occasional lovers. He came to my rescue in 1988, we were back to being just a bit more than casual friends until a bad argument in Spring of 1989. Picked up our friendship again a few months later. Then in the Fall of 1989 I moved to Vermont. We spoke often by phone. We argued over his health issues. He said he would come to my wedding in April of 1990. He never showed. Two weeks later he was dead. I always blamed myself because if I had been in NYC I would have pushed him to see the right doctors; I was perhaps the only one he would ever listen to. By that time our relationship had become more one of equals. If nothing else he had learned to respect my opinions and advice.
After our second break-up in 1987 I wrote this to/about/for Nick. He never read. I read it often –
Love is never enough. And it can never be left behind. Not if it really was love.
“What can you say or do about a situation that goes on too long, even when everyone knows it’s wrong. and the reason it’s wrong is because love is not enough.
You have a person who loves someone. who’d rather talk to that person than anyone else. who’d rather spend time with that person than anyone else. who laughs more with that person than anyone else.
And the feelings are mutual.
But there is a problem. one of these people hasn’t the capacity to show their love. because of some deep insecurity or tragic character flaw needs to dominate everything and everyone.
Who needs to change? The domineering person or the one who is subjected to the domination. Can one of these people turn completely passive; give up their identity, live every day of their life with insults and psychological abuse.
We are all familiar with physical abuse. but what of psychological abuse. How much more insidious it is. How much more damaging it is; physical abuse is preferable. You can put a cast on a broken arm. How do you put a cast on a broken spirit, iodine on a lacerated soul, shattered self-esteem does not lend itself to crazy glue.
So who is to compromise? Who is to change? And if compromise proves temporary and change impossible, what does love have to do with it?
How much pain to the person who is subject to the abuse. and how much pain to the abuser who doesn’t quite understand, who can’t see quite clearly enough.
Will the abused find someone who won’t abuse them. Will the abuser find someone who will accept the abuse. And if they do will they really be happy with these other people.
Each loving someone else. Loving each other but love not being enough to accept abasement or to cease abasing.
Who will suffer the most damage. The one who loved and was hurt. Or the one who loved and did the hurting. But who indeed did the hurt? The one who dominates or the one who can’t accept it.
And what is this love that transcends this wild discrepancy in character. What is it based on? The ability to see beyond the tragic difference. to see the person behind the mask. The laughter, the mutuality of the basic person, the understanding that really is there.
Why isn’t love enough? And when it can’t be, why can’t it be left behind?”