Respectable Gentleman

By Marko Stojković-Mark

(3rd place FREEŠN 2020 Writing Contest) @levimeirclancy

Love is an abstract word. It can be defined in many ways. The ancient Greek philosophers defined seven different types of love; other philosophers defined even more varieties in modernity. I will explore eros or romantic and sexual love (and my experience with it) as I think this is the type of love most people think of when they hear the word.
Love is a powerful weapon. It can make people compassionate, kind, disrespectful, irrational and even violent. People kill for love, and some even start wars for it, or because of it. Sometimes it makes people better themselves and sometimes people get worse because of it.

I always had a hard time defining and talking about love. That’s perhaps because I lost my parents when I was very young (and probably didn’t get as much love as the next child) and soon after I discovered that I was gay (which obviously complicated things even more). Nonetheless, I think that heterosexual and homosexual love functions in almost the same way (minus the biology of reproduction) so I’m not going to make any distinctions between them.

I think I have been in love two times and both were classic examples of unrequited love that almost everyone has experienced in their twenties. I liked them very much, and they did not like me back (or didn’t like me enough).
Although, today I can write about them in an almost satirical manner, back then, when I was rejected or ignored those feelings were nothing to joke about. The intense psychological pain I felt was unbearable and traumatising. I recall clearly how much I hated myself for letting other people destroy my mental health.
That’s right, I blamed myself. I asked myself: “How could I have been so naïve and gave them my heart in the palm of my hands? How could I have been irrational?”

I even spent my early twenties on the borderline of alcoholism partly because of it (which – I later deduced – was probably not a good look for me).

Look, I think I am generally a very rational person, but when I think back to my younger self, I can’t help but wonder, how can a feeling be so intense that it may cause psychological and physical pain, substance abuse, mental illness and sometimes, unfortunately, even suicidal thoughts.

While I’m certain that psychologists and behavioural biologists have their own theories, I’ll present my simple opinion. Love is the fiercest emotion that we feel.
Love (and sex) is also what motivates us consciously and unconsciously. Similar to a drug, it can cloud our minds, make us unreasonable and even make us sabotage ourselves. Sometimes the feeling is so strong that we cease to function rationally altogether.

One of my favourite authors Yukio Mishima describes love in his 1963 novel “The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea” better than I ever could:
“It was the sea that made me begin thinking secretly about love more than anything else; you know, a love worth dying for, or a love that consumes you. To a man locked up in a steel ship all the time, the sea is too much like a woman. Things like her lulls and storms, or her caprice, or the beauty of her breast reflecting the setting sun, are all obvious. More than that, you’re in a ship that mounts the sea and rides her and yet is constantly denied her. It’s the old saw about miles and miles of lovely water and you can’t quench your thirst. Nature surrounds a sailor with all these elements so like a woman and yet he is kept as far as a man can be from her warm, living body. That’s where the problem begins, right there—I’m sure of it.”

So what can we learn from this? Absolutely nothing. I’m not trying to be comical here. Most of us will have our heart broken again in the future and no matter what advice we get; nothing (except time and patience) will really help us in healing those invisible wounds. Keep letting go, never close your heart and not ever stop loving.

And how do I deal with it myself? Nowadays, when I feel lonesome I just take a Xanax and lie on the kitchen floor for a few hours, like any other respectable gentleman. Life is truly grand.

23. 3. 2020

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