Free Therapy #25: The Price You Pay for Love

Did you ever think that it would be like this?
The price you pay for love.
Did you ever think that it would feel like this?
The price you pay for love.
The price you pay, willingly.
The price you pay, willingly.

-Eliza Gilkyson

I am a deeply flawed human being. I know this. And it isn’t false modesty that makes me say this. It is a fact. It is incontrovertible, inarguable. I am massively imperfect. Of this I have no doubt.

And yet I marvel at another fact: despite my imperfections I can be blissfully happy. Quietly ecstatic. Secretly, deeply joyous. Drop to my knees grateful, content and fulfilled.

How do I explain this? I feel a little guilty admitting it but I give all credit to others — other human beings — and the light they bring into my life.

Occasionally, I hear someone say, “I hate people.” I understand that sentiment. It is hard in this world. It brings out a certain ugliness in all of us. It makes some of us hard and mean. We don’t mean to be this way but the crushing pressure of daily life grinds it out of us, squeezes out the hurt and hate and harsh words. We feel like we can’t help it.

Still there is another side. I know. I have been blessed beyond belief this time around and I know this other side. How? Mostly my career I guess. All my life I have had the great honor of sitting in a small room with one or two people at a time and held their hearts in my hands. Their pain. Their fears. Their lost loves and unquenchable sorrows.

And they have given me so much. They will never know. They have shown me their courage and hope — their persistence despite the pain. There is nothing more precious than the honesty of a soul forced to surrender; forced by fear or loss or sadness to face their pain and not give in or give up. Even though they want to quit more than they want another breath of air.

People are beautiful. They are worthy. They are magnificent. In some it is hard to see. A few of us develop such thick armor no light can get in or out. Some are so sick of the hurt they try to kill their own capacity to care. They seek numbness and call it real peace. It isn’t, though.

In August of 2007 my wife and I sat in her car in the parking lot outside Dr. Philben’s office. We were both crying; both sobbing. Hot tears poured from us like rain, our unbelieving brains tortured with the unwanted news we’d just received. You cannot know how insanely you love someone until a physician tells you they have cancer and might die. The price we pay for love is sometimes deep, harrowing pain and sorrow and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?

I remember moments of madness where I was convinced that if cancer took my wife, I would go too. Why live? Life would cease to be life without her in it I told myself. That is what love does. It drives you to your knees. It makes you a little crazed.

The most powerful force in the universe is love. Of that I am convinced. And it is accessible. For each of us.

I don’t always see the good in others, the spark of light, the surprising flash of inner beauty, the amazing heart. I miss it out of boredom, distraction or my own preoccupations but it’s there. It is always there.

And with my clients I intentionally look for it. It isn’t hard to find. And then I show them or try to anyway. I strive to help them see it despite the flaws and failings they can’t quite forgive; help them understand that if someone as pathetic as me can know this peace, they can too. I try to be that mirror we all need, reflecting not the lies and judgments that burden us all, but the poetry and purity that is our true self.

Our minds are meddling creatures and yet they mean well. Their purpose isn’t to confuse us or give us false information about ourselves and others but too often they do exactly that.

So who can we trust if not our own mind? Great question, that one. My answer is simple: Believe in love. Whatever you do, believe in love. Find it in yourself and others. Be willing to love and forgive and most of all, be willing to accept and receive it from others. Notice how your judgments show up to sabotage your efforts and accept that too.

Each of us is flawed and it just doesn’t matter. As we refuse to judge or blame, we create space for love and acceptance. And peace: sweet, real and restful peace.

Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.

Douglas Craig
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 30 years. He believes in magic and is a Dawes fan.
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar jaonnesnyder says:

    Thank you for this beautifully written article. This is a good time of year for your message….days get shorter and colder and it's a hard time of year for many people. Being open to and connected to other people makes all the difference….and, I have to say, showing your love by action and deed rather than by words is critical. Again, thank you Doug.

    Joanne Lobeski Snyder

    • ajac37 ajac37 says:

      Joanne, you remind me that Noah Webster said, "What you do speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say!"

  2. ajac37 ajac37 says:

    A true and articulate message appropriate for all year 'round, but especially THIS particular season.

  3. Your story touched me. I recently got married to the love of my life and I would do anything to protect my husband. I just wanted to reach out to you and hug you after I read your story. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your story really warmed my heart a lot.