Illusory Love and the Caged Animal

When was the last time you let something important to you go? The last time you put something awesome down, never to pick it up again? The last time to intentionally walked away from something you loved more than anything?

You see, we never really think about our feelings when we think of things we can let go of. We think of how losing something made us feel, but rarely about letting a feeling go. That’s how I categorize a drug addiction. A feeling deep inside that you so closely identify with. You don’t just have an addiction, you feel an addiction. Feel it in your bones. See it when you close your eyes. Smell it with your deepest breaths. Taste it on your lips. Addiction is an emotional experience. Like being in love. An attachment to something on a deeper level.

Don’t let that romantic description shroud your perception of it though. It is very much the opposite of love as well. Love is infinite and comes from the deepest reaches of your heart and soul. Addiction stems from external influence. Meaning it is finite, fleeting, and must be constantly fed to be maintained. So though it is very much like love, it is also very much like a caged animal being bred to raze, wreck, ruin, fell,tear, disfigure, dismantle and decimate without prejudice, hesitation or remorse.

So getting back to where I started, The last time you let something go. Naturally my addiction to drugs wasn’t the last time I let go of something emotional. There are plenty moments where I’ve had to leave behind an emotion and there will be plenty of times to talk about them. This time though, the caged animal, the true love, is the main character.

When something that means so much to you is the thing killing you, it becomes a very difficult relationship to continue to invest in. The issue with this kind of feeling, this kind of animal, is that it grabs a hold of you when you try to leave. A tight, vice grip around your organs, tearing at you to come back. Like the caged animal is released and it’s gnawing at you from the center to the surface. It becomes all you can think about. You don’t want it to be. You want to think about Food. Drinks. Friends. Family. Work. Your car. Your house. You weekend plans. Hell you want to think about grass growing or paint drying just to take your mind off of the searing pain that the uncaged animal is inflicting on your insides, but you can’t.

The longer you go without more of the love, the more the animal claws, bites, tears and chews through your body. Your very soul feels like a giant hunk of mauled flesh. The further away you get from being with that love, the more tenacious, the more ferocious the animal gets. You feel your stomach bleeding. You feel your chest collapsing. You lose your vision while your eyes become an evening snack. The animal never tires, never gets bored or districted. It is a perfect killing machine that you’ve been grooming without knowing how or why since the moment you installed the cage in the first place.

You may not have even noticed the cage. You probably didn’t. The romanticized, lunch at an Italian bistro, kissing under the Eiffel Tower, Marriage on the beach, happily ever after love is what you started with. It’s what drew you in to begin with. Falling in love is often blinding, beautifully blinding. True love reciprocates. Your partner loves you the way you love them and your synchronicity makes both sides better for having the other. You forget, go blind to, all the other people that tried to occupy that space before. It’s a beautiful thing. Perfect 20/20 vision to one single person, and full, total blackened blindness to everyone else.

This isn’t true love though. It’s deceptive, self-serving and narcissistic. It is a succubus who lies with you, persuades you to love it so softly, swiftly and effectively, then while you rest beside it, the animal is led inside and the cage is furnished for it to slumber. It is there that the animal resides until you try to walk away.

The destruction goes on for days, for weeks, for months. The damage it leaves is long-lasting, often permanent. If ever you are given the choice between the fury of a scorned woman or the rage of this breed of animal, scorn your woman and smile at the results. That may sound very much like the decree of a crazy person, and maybe it is. But it doesn’t take a sane person to know that getting yelled at, having your property ruined, experiencing anything that your former soul-mate’s burnt heart can throw at you will heal infinitely faster than a vicious, snarling, monster with a massive mouth of teeth and an incapable hunger for your flesh, your skin, your nails, your organs, your soul, your mind, you and everything that makes you, you. Even your hair hurts in the wake of it’s roughshod onslaught.

Finally, after a seemingly endless barrage of violence that makes death look more welcoming than an island oasis laden with women, or men if you’d prefer, plucked from of your wildest fantasies standing on barrels of money and holding the keys to your new dream home complete with private jet, yacht, luxury car and a document that excludes you from ever paying taxes again, the brutality stops. But not like the flip of a light switch. More like a slow drip from a rusty old faucet. One minuscule drop at a time it stops. The animal’s hunger satiates and he wander back to his cage to snuggle close to the love that put him there.

But don’t fall under any delusion about the door to that cage closing. It never closes. Not all the way. Your body begins to heal. Jarring scars can be found everywhere. Organs left in shambles. Holes where there once was healthy brain. You’ve seen the “This is your brain on drugs.” Commercial with the egg yolk, right? I assure you, a healthy, protein-filled breakfast option is not a good comparison. Your insides look less like something sunny-side up at Denny’s and more like the remains of a fallen soldier after a battle that culminated with bombs, shrapnel and a sky-blackening rain of gunfire.

The fray you’ve survived, that of biblical-proportions, will have lasting, life-long reminders. Perhaps your vision never returns to normal. Perhaps you ended up with tremors, or incontinence. Maybe you never regain your ability to tell reality from a dream or, conceivably so, you regain that ability but not completely (this is where I raise my hand). Hell you could walk away with a Tapas portion of all of those and more. And sure there are ways to deal with these things. Procedures you can endure. Medications you can take. Steps that, with consistency, luck and prayer, can give you a life that others may perceive as normal. I don’t call it “recovery” though. I think that paints an unrealistic portrait of the state you emerge from it all in. A vision that looks like a Monet when it should rightfully look like a Picasso. I might call it manageable. I may call it functional. I’ve called it viable, feasible, practicable, and most often I call it being adjusted. Because the door to that cage is always open. The taste for ruination, like a piece of spinach, still stuck between that monster’s teeth. And the powerful, primal bond to the narcissistic, illusory “love” remains as well, a fitting bedmate for the little pet it created when first it joined you between the proverbial sheets and enraptured your very spirit into thinking it was real.

I’ll end as we began, asking the simple, though perhaps not very, question “When was the last time you let something important to you go?” And I’ll follow it up now with this an assuredly not as simple one. “Did it ever feel like that?” And if the answer is no, well now you have a new perspective for the next time you meet someone who is, because there isn’t such a thing as ‘was’, addicted to something. And if ever you hear, see or meet an individual who fell in love in such a way on more than once occasion, to more than one thing, or a second third fourth or even hundredth time to the same thing, my heart hopes that you’ll feel compassion, nothing less if not something more.

2 Replies to “Illusory Love and the Caged Animal”

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