The Matchbook Diaries


You know when love begins.  You feel a surge in your heart, maybe you clutch your chest or your throat, or maybe you smile to yourself in a knowing manner, secretly, suddenly, aware.  Then it can feel like you are tumbling, skidding, but the fall is unavoidable.  You are “in” love then, and there’s no cure, you gave yourself away and you can’t take yourself back.  One essential element of love is its true-ness.  Love is eternal.  Once you love something, the connection between you and that living thing or object is permanent.  If it’s breakable, it’s not love. When I first met my son in the flesh, when they put him into my arms gooey and wriggling, I knew that I loved him in a way I’d never, ever love anything else.  My zeal for him is staggering.  My God, I love him.  Oh my God.  There have been countless nights, as I trembled under the weight of my own history, moments when I juggled my love for my son against my mother’s non-love for me.  How could this be?  As a child, if you are not loved, you automatically assume the fault is internal.  You instantly begin a lifetime of trying, of earning, of controlling, of self-doubt and self-hate never once understanding that it wasn’t about you.

I love my mother and my father; I can’t help it.  I wish I did not, which is a pity.  When someone I love doesn’t love me, my instinct is to hate them for it, and I can certainly try, but really I’m writhing in their rejection of me. Really when I scream, “I hate you!” what I mean is, “It hurts that you do not love me!”  Nevertheless, if my love is unrequited, as it was in the case of my mother, my situation doesn’t speak to some deficiency in me.  Rejection from one I love unfortunately does nothing to disconnect my love from the person I love; I love them helplessly, hopelessly.  My mother did not love.  Anyone.  I never once saw her on her knees about anything.  I never once saw her in torment because of an eternal attachment.  I saw her want people.  I saw her use people as objects.  I saw her smile as people preened and coddled and stroked her.  I saw her gleeful in cunning.  I did not see her in the unilaterally vulnerable position of loving anyone or anything. Demons are not full of hate.  They are full of indifference, the final end of the evil spectrum.

For years I heard myself saying, to any number of people and in any number of situations, “I don’t trust you.”  What I should have been saying and what I say now is, “I don’t trust.”  I thought when I did not trust someone it was because they were not trustworthy.  I’m sure in some cases I was correct, however, my lack of trust is a blanket lack.  Because of the supreme betrayal in my life it is unlikely that I will ever trust.  It is comforting, however, to know, that just as the truth is, “I don’t trust,” the truth about the woman who did catastrophic damage to me is that she did not love.  It is not true to simply say, My mother did not love me.  My mother did not love.  I was an object for her, useful, pleasurable.  When I ceased being those things she discarded me.  Had she loved me, it would have been impossible for her to do what she did.  But she did not love me, so it was possible.  In the beginning of my own clarity about my personal history, I often, for years, would get caught in a loop of incomprehension.  Some new detail of my torture would emerge, and I’d begin to shake my head, “No, no, no, I don’t understand, no, no….”  But if someone does not love, then they are capable of all manner of atrocity.  I can shake my head all I want, but people, and there are a few, who do not love, they do not care.  They are utterly without conscience.  They sleep peacefully while the rest of us toss and turn lamenting the mistakes we’ve made.

The founder of all demons was the first being that God made who did not love.  God did not cast that creature from heaven.  That creature’s disposition made it categorically impossible for it to inhabit heaven.  In that moment hell, the place where love does not exist, came into being.  Hell is created by unlove.  Hell is where love is not.   Just as the language of God is love and trust, so the language of evil is indifference and fear.  All of the courage is on one side of that equation.  It takes no courage to hate and to fear.  God loves, therefore, God suffers.  That’s the terror of love.  Love means that you’ve just handed someone or something the ability to break your heart, and if that happens you will suffer.  You can’t help it, there is no defense.  The temptation is to push away, to fight back, to try to contort the situation so that it doesn’t hurt.  None of that will work.  It won’t matter how you fight or how you punish or how much distance you create.  You will still love them and they will still not love you.

There are not iterations of love. If you have to ask, then the answer is no.  Love comes when you don’t ask.  Love comes without warning, without limit, without rules.  Love is the core of this and every universe.  There is nothing as strong, nothing in any world is as strong as love.  Once you understand love, you see the nature of good and evil, the inherent unbreakability of good and the inherent instability of evil.  Without love there is no strength, but with love I’m connected to the tap root, to the foundation of this and all worlds, and if I refuse to surrender, if I refuse to let go, then I am unstoppable.  You can kill me, but that won’t stop me.  Love survives death.  Love survives rejection.  Love survives torture and rape and betrayal.  I have stood in the center of my own personal typhoon.  I have felt the universe tip under my own feet as I stumble, stupefied by calculated hate, by premeditated violence whose intention is to operate undisclosed and without interference, but in the middle of those moments, God has been there immutable.

I used to think of immutability as a flavorless essence, as something impersonal, faceless.  (Meh.) Now I see it for what it is, an essential element, the strength of love.  Immutability is the very nature of all that is true and real.  In the filthy fight for redemption, when I am flooded with agony and filled with hate and fear and unbearable pain, there is an anchor there, an anchor with the most extraordinary agility, with the most eloquent grace, outfitted with the most exquisite tenderness that remains untouched and untouchable by the howling demons battering me.  God loves.  The consequences of this truth are earth shattering, are revolutionary.  Nothing can get in the way of anything when the force inside of that thing is love.  Use this truth, wield it in confidence, it will never betray you.  Act on the truth.  God loves you.  Right now.  God loves you.  This moment.  God loves you without reason, without condition, without restraint, without judgment, without end.