Aug 15, 2012

on limbic revision and Pop-eye

"In a relationship, one mind revises the other; one heart changes its partner. This astounding legacy of our combined status as mammals and neural beings is limbic revision: the power to remodel the emotional parts of the people we love, as our Attractors [coteries of ingrained information patterns] activate certain limbic pathways, and the brain’s inexorable memory mechanism reinforces them.
Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.
Real, honest, complete love requires letting go."*

"They should love me for myself".
"I am what I am."
"Love means you accept me for what I am"

How often do you hear these phrases? Movies, TV shows, therapy sessions. Drunken conversations and cafe thoughts in passing.

We've all heard it from a friend, from a parent, from the voice in our head.

And there is, quite naturally, many powerful and elemental truths in such assertions. There is, at heart, hopeful self confidence in these utterings, yearning for true acceptance. Love, quite naturally, starts with two individuals. And the in order for a healthy and loving relationship to flourish there needs to be more than animal attraction and shared amusement. There needs to be great affection and respect for the person inside, for what they bring to the table. There needs to be admiration for how they were, when they walked into the room, and laid their heart on the table.

So yes, you need to love that heart, the heart you met. You need to respect that brain. The brain you met. No doubt. True love takes you for what you are. Which is to say: we shouldn't pick a partner only to tear apart the core of their being and replace it with our own.

Except, ofcourse, what you are changes. What we are changes.
Change, as they say, is one of the few things you can depend on.

Age, environment, exposure to a culture, joy, pain. All these things change a person. They grow from what they were into something different, an augmentation on the original form.

And then there is this other compelling assertion: limbic revision as a result of the very love you share. The reaction and interaction of two people so close they permanently and biologically alter eachother. They become, because of eachother, someone new. Not, so much, two becoming one, but two becoming two different, symbiotic, two.

It makes me think of how often I have heard someone grumble because the person they are married to is not the person they married.
And how, ofcourse, they are right.
And how insane it is that they didn't anticipate that. That they thought they could live a life with someone and see them unaffected by their life and by their very presence.

And it also makes me think how often people yearn for a change in their partner without really considering the part they must play as well, the symbiotic metamorphosis they have comitted to while watching and waiting for their partner to grow.

But mostly it makes me wonder why anyone would want to stay static, and why anyone would yearn to bond so deeply with another, if everything is already so damn perfect that it can not improved upon.

We can be so defensive about change, so insecure with what personal growth implies about our current state of being. And then there are the turf wars and the power struggles and the need to assrt ones "person" (or sometimes, even, persona) as an immovable object to make sure we aren't absorbed into the other. Change is hard, even when it is necessary. Even when it can't be stopped.

And it also change beckons with a bit of a warning: if who you love changes you and it changes your world what role will you play in making your world the world you wish to live in?  if you are going to be conducting your own little chemistry experiment, shouldn't you have some control over what goes into the tests tube?

Which is to say: change may be inevitable, but I don't believe it is uncontrollable.

Real love may require letting go, but before you go, you might be able to aim your fall so you are more apt to like where you land.

*credit: A General Theory of Love,Thomas;Amini, Fari;Lannon, Richard Lewis , and corresponding article:

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