June is Love month. Our exploration of twelve personal attributes I see contributing to recovery from PTSD and other past stresses continues with consideration of four kinds of love. Let’s begin with Eros.
It is no coincidence that the heart shape of our most common love symbol physically resembles buttocks.
Without the power of physical attraction, we would not…could not…exist. Besides, erotic love is a thrilling natural high. It is a good thing–an excellent thing. Eros is quite literally a portal to greater love.
Trauma sometimes damages this love, even if the trauma is not sexual. I don’t know why, but I know a bit of how.
Mentally wounded people are less attractive, or at least we feel less attractive. We are more guarded, self isolating, distant. Intimacy becomes more challenging.
We may appear to have lost something of our essence, our soul.
Then there is the anger thing–very unattractive, repulsive actually.
There is another issue: Trauma survivors gravitate toward addiction. Perhaps it is attempted relief from pain of mental obsession, but I am not a psychologist. I don’t even play one on TV.
Sex can become that addiction, that avenue of distraction and stress relief. Pornography raises its ugly head, a very real problem for some of our combat Veterans.
A doorway to greater love is closed. That is a great tragedy for all of us.
“Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice.” (Frederich Nietzsche)
I don’t know about the Christianity part of the quote, but I am certain this is often true of trauma.
I have spent the past few days hauling rocks to build a new rock garden for Nancy. She likes rock gardens. She likes most gardens, so I work to make them pretty for her. I am a Bowerbird, fixing up a pretty haven for her Bridal Bower in the north woods.
Isn’t that romantic? Our thirty-fifth year of marriage and I am still wooing her. Sure, there are ulterior motives; I want her to be happy in the north woods because I want to be here more, and I want her with me. Sure, I am happier when Nancy is happy.
Maybe recovery is really that simple: doing something for somebody else. Maybe that is the essence of erotic love, the drive to do something to make somebody else happy even if it is for ulterior motive.
I said it was a gateway to greater love, this Eros thing, not the greatest love. We will get to that later.
Erotic love is not a vice, but an addiction is. As with most addictions, recovery from PTSD requires first recovering from any sexual addiction, and the first step to that is admitting it has become a vice.
No, I am not going to ask you to look for tracks of erotic vice in your heart.
Please, look for the tracks of true romance in the young heart of your pre-trauma self. Remember it and cherish it.