“How cruelly sweet are the echoes that start, when memory plays an old tune on the heart!” 
― Eliza Cook

 

We enter this life as creatures infinitely adaptable. Born unto uncertain fate, we must win the devotion of those around us in order that we may survive. When we succeed, to whatever extent we do, we codify the process by which this was achieved; it becomes The Writ Of Love. For better, or worse.

I recently sat across a very short space and an even briefer acquaintance from someone who, in response to an offhand remark said knowingly,

“Ah. So, your picker is broken.”

I was taken aback by this pronouncement, and instinctively rose to defend myself, but upon swift reflection realized that insofar as the person who said it was concerned, it was true enough not to bother.

Yet regardless of the veracity of the assertion, its implication got under my skin; that I am somehow fundamentally incapable of selecting a good partner for myself. Clearly, if history is any guide, my track record is pretty lousy – but this can be said of virtually  anyone  who isn’t currently happily partnered.

I have been devoted to the considerable work of tending to myself for the first time in my life and I have made such progress as to render myself nearly unrecognizably happy and content. So then, I bridle at the prospect that any  part of me is broken.

Instead I can approach myself with compassionate understanding that my template, formed a lifetime ago, was based on a love attained only through absolute prescient submission to will and whim alike.  

And while I can intellectually encounter this information with full realization of its incapacity to nurture a healthy, supportive, reciprocal love, I cannot yet divest myself of the emotional responses inherent to that model. 

Which means I both attract and am attracted to, bullies.

Not the best news, ever.

If I internalize this information,  I begin to extrapolate on the theme and wonder if the very fact I am attracted to someone condemns them to being a terrible choice for me as a partner.

This troubles me mostly because this would, in some respect, require me to be omniscient; and as much as I think of myself, I have never really gone so far as to embrace that particular conceit. 

Attraction, in my experience is binary, instant, and irreversible. By which I mean to say, I am attracted to someone before they ever open their mouth. And no action, words, or deeds of theirs seems to change this response. Thus, I am drawn to them before they have a chance to demonstrate they are a bully.

Yet almost without exception (there really is just the one) it has proven to be true. How then, can I tell? Is it as I frequently claim, all in how they smell? Is there a hormone which expresses a demanding sense of emotional entitlement? A pheromone for bully? 

And if all this is so, how can I hope to edit this most profound and hard-wired inclination? How do I make congruent all that I desire with all that will serve to create the most nurturing and complimentary love?

Modern medicine is coming awake to the realization that sometimes, people are sad, or sick, because the wrong kind of things live inside of them; ideas, certainly, but also critters. Gut bacteria are the greatest arbiter of our ability to properly maintain a correct neurochemical balance, digest and absorb essential nutrients. What if the circumstances of childhood  – stress, access to daylight, proper nutrition – dictate what can survive inside of us?

The microorganisms that live in our bellies and on our skin, create the scent that surrounds us. What if in those early years, the only encounters with tenderness I was exposed to suffused the air with chemicals that cried submit  and yield. And this, as my template, literally flavored my experience of love for the rest of my life heretofore? What if all that could endure my internal landscape were those beasts who can withstand terror, tolerate constant worry, and survive total dominance?

Then I am left with a rather more practical consideration; how do I influence myself now, to thrive on peace, crave support, and yearn for equity? To create the change both conscious and chemical?

I believe the good work of shedding that which does not serve me is well underway.  The effort of creating in me conditions which will nurture such change. In so doing I can only hope to welcome near that which will crave only what serves me best.

Perhaps a transplant is in order…