Form and Formlessness of Love

Embracing her sexual identity later in life, an Anonymous Reader shares the discovery that helped her feel love.

Embracing her sexual identity later in life, an Anonymous Reader shares the discovery that helped her feel love.

I was 30 when I made my first independent decision on homosexuality. I had been raised in a small Christian community, where my father was the leading minister. He was, in my young mind and I think in many even older minds, a close confidant of God. My mother was his handmaiden. I tell you this because, in that world, one did not question the proclamations made by my father and by God. As time went on, my father and of course God, too, had strong opinions about sexual things.

As my sister and I matured, our budding sexuality was taken over and used by my father in a variety of ways, none of which had to do with what we needed as young girls and later as adolescents. As he shaped our thinking about sex and disconnected us from our own sexual identity, he also adamantly spoke against homosexuality. “It is sick; it is a sin against God; it is abhorrent and disgusting,” were just some of the things he said. At that time in my life, any possible curiosity or inclination that I may have had about this sexual direction was scared into hiding.

It wasn’t until after his death, and after I was gone from that religious community for many years, that an epiphany at my age of 30 occurred. I was in the UW-Madison School of Social Work, taking a class on family systems. One day, a panel of gay and lesbian couples spoke to us. Until then, to my knowledge, I had never seen or met a gay or lesbian person. I did not know what to expect, given my father’s teachings. I remember the lecture hall and the couples up on the stage. They looked regular, and I realized that I probably had seen or met other people before who were gay or lesbian. What a surprise!

The revelation that came to me as I listened was that the essential of a relationship is loving and being loved, not the particular form this love showed up in. In this world where there is so much vio-lence and hatred, it is a wonderful thing whenever people love each other. I found myself thinking how absurd it was that anyone would try to dictate what form love should come in. That day, I began to understand that love does not have a Correct Form! I recognized the formlessness of love and the beauty and power of love, through whatever form it flows.

As my own children grew up, my youngest daughter fell in love with a woman. Their love and commitment was clear and glorious. I celebrate that relationship as I celebrate my other daughter’s heterosexual relationship.

In my personal life, the experience of being cut off from my own sexuality that had begun early in my life continued to affect my relationship choices and experiences.

And then my brother died, and I exploded out of the heterosexual form of love and relationship dictated in my childhood. He was the last living member of my immediate family, besides me. As I look back, it seems like it wasn’t until they were all dead that I could open my own life to a new freedom and new forms of love.

I fell completely, deeply and forever. It was incredible to me to feel this way in a relationship: loving, loved, safe, known, challenged, playful, joyful and sexually awake. I felt love flowing through me, unblocked and alive. Suddenly now, the form seemed to be essential in awakening me to new life, to a new ability to Love. I fell in love with a woman!

I chose to make a lot of changes in my life, and none of them were hard to do: letting go of physical and emotional baggage, moving from a house I had lived in almost half my life, changing my vision of my future. And I felt the love flowing through me, and I felt loved.

After about a year, my partner told me about her desire to transition to male, saying that finally, because of our relationship, she felt safe enough to take this amazing step toward being in the form he/she really felt him/her self to be.

I was scared about testosterone, and it was clear to me that the gender issue was very real for him/her. Being in the right gender form for him/her self was so important to him/her. For me, the form no longer mattered; the love flowing through me needed no particular form.

So, over the next year, my partner transitioned. As a woman, she spoke of being both male and female, of loving me and being together forever. During the transition, this changed. Being fully a man became his focus. After six months on testosterone, top surgery, and a hysterectomy, he ended our relationship.

After a year passed, I began to again recognize that the particular form of love is not essential for it to flow. My experience of love, opening to it, feeling it flow through me, so full, so fun, is what matters. My spiritual work since then has been to open to this rich wonderful experience of Love, to loving Life, loving the adventure of all of life, being present with each moment, with curiosity and compassion, letting all of me be the channel of Love. And the funny, wonderful thing about love is, it is everywhere, formless in its essence but experienced in some form or another. Love is always in relation to something else. Forms are physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual or any combination of these. In this world, forms shift and change, but Love can always be found at the center of each moment.