Helen Madden, the licensed joyologist played by Molly Shannon on Saturday Night Live, understood the key for moving from shame to joy.
Helen was joyously exuberant in her love, over the top and unable to sit still as she delighted in very single part of her life.
She is resonant, though, because living with abandon is always resonant. Something about the size and brilliance compels us to smile.
It doesn’t matter if it is new shoes or an airplane from a kit, loving it connects you to the joy in life. That love becomes a touchstone you can return to, a spark you can share, something that gives meaning and joy to your life.
When I meet someone new, I often ask them to tell me a story. I want to hear their voice, understand what they fear and what they value, get a glimpse of the world through their eyes.
It might be better, though, to ask them what or who they love. Glimpsing the passion inside, the Eros, Agape Philia and Storge that drives them, informing and motivating their choices may be a better way to understand who they are.
I love going deep, creating understanding, creating expression. That’s great, as far as it goes.
I let go of much other love many, many years ago, starting when I understood that what I loved inside my femme heart would mostly bring me shit, when I got the fact that sharing what I loved with my mother would just get it trashed.
Sure, I loved my family with all my heart and soul, but until I could love who I knew myself to be inside, then opening to real, raw love wasn’t really possible.
Instead, love became about doing, about manipulating, about trying to get someone to give me what I needed. I believed that showing all of myself was not a path to love, rather it was overwhelming people, scaring and disgusting them, being too queer, too intense, and too smart for the room.
I know why we learn to love things, hoping to find community around that shared love.
Learning to live with profound scarcity, though, in æsthetic denial, means that my relationship with things is very distant and constrained. Scarcity captures the mind and my mind turned away from comfort in objects a very long time ago.
This makes it almost impossible for me to find that kind of community experience, sharing a relationship around the shared value of special things, from art to cars or motorcycles.
Growing up with a scarcity of love and mirroring but a surfeit of drama and narcissism, I learned to keep my love buried deep inside. It may have driven me, but it all had to pass through my cerebral filters to get cleaned and rationalized before I could possibly act on it.
Raw love, I knew, was dangerous, no matter how much it formed the basis of emotional sharing between humans. I learned very, very early that just because you loved someone there was no guarantee of them loving you back, or even if they did, their love would be a rational exercise buried deep under emotional brokeness and needy desperation.
I learned to live with the concept of love, struggling for my own healing, knowing I live in spiritual love even if the hot or warm love of the flesh was denied to me. With a porcupine mind I was hard to love and my penetrating gorgon eyes often turned others to stone.
Marco Pierre White has fallen in love with his little part of England. Anthony Bourdain has come to understand that emotionally satisfying food is much more potent than conceptually satisfying food He seeks a suspension of logic and reason. Love drives and sustains them.
When I ask people to say “yes,” to me, what I want is for them to say “yes” to my opening my love, yes to opening my joy, yes to opening up and radiating in the world.
What I usually get, though, is people explaining why I am too much, why my love is too queer, too intense and too overwhelming. I have to attenuate myself, to be what people expect, to keep them comfortable if I want even a whiff of love in return.
Today, I know that loving something or someone that can never love me back on my terms comes with a very high cost. Even finding community around shared love is very difficult for me.
I will never be as simple and one-note as Licensed Joyologist Helen Madden. None of us will, no matter how much the character amuses us for a few minutes in a sketch. That can only be a facet, not a whole person.
My love of rebirth is necessarily a love of tragedy and death, a love of the revelation that comes from being jerked awake like you just spent so much time underwater you started to lose logic and reason.
For me, the love is in the fight, in the smart engagement of another person, helping them to see more clearly, understand more deeply and feel empowered, strong, brilliant & gorgeous. Cute & sweet, well, I lost the chance of owning that very, very early.
This is a love not easily shared. It is not just titillating and sensational, a fun rush that leaves you ready to do it again, rather it is profound and life changing, a demand to go deep. Over my decades my love has become suppressed and subversive, growing beyond expectations and far beyond most peoples easy engagement.
What can I love so much that sharing it will open hearts and return the kind of love I need? What love is worth risking opening my heart for?
I know that to move beyond where I am now I have to find something that I am able to shout “Love it, love it, love it” about. It has to be something that people understand, or my own passion will drive others far away, marginalizing me more.
That deep, intense passionate love does exist inside of me. It always has, the foundation of my gratitude & service in the world.
Finding ways to share that love in a way that gets me love in return, though, has always been elusive for me.
I “love it, love it, love it!” How, though, do I find a way for it to love me back?