Opinion- Why do People Ruin the Best Thing they can Experience – Love?

The curious thing about love is that it comes in many forms and can be expressed in a multitude of ways. It can be platonic, romantic, or familial — each one able to be felt as strongly as the rest. It can be shown without words, in the form of home cooked meals, thoughtful gifts, or even a comforting hug that translates to care and affection. It can be ruined deliberately, of course, but it’s not always done on purpose. Some people are too selfish or single-minded to pay attention to how their actions affect those around them, and they inadvertently ruin the love others have for them in the process. Others are simply too prejudiced against specific individuals to allow them to experience the highs and lows of love, interfering against their behalf.

The Glass Castle, a true story written by Jeannette Walls and recounting her life, is a great example of the way self-absorption can ruin familial love and relationships. Jeannette, along with her sisters and brother, did not have an easy life growing up. Her father, Rex, was constantly battling both an alcohol addiction and a gambling addiction. Her mother, Rose Mary, refused to give up her wish to be an artist and thus did not do much to help out with finances. With both parents unemployed most of the time, the Walls family was constantly on the go, living in whichever areas they could survive in. Rose Mary had to be forced to teach by her children — using a degree her own mother made her get — and often complained about it. She wanted to have a successful art career, but that had been going nowhere for years, though it didn’t stop her from leaving the jobs providing for her family to keep creating her art. It was partly her fault that her children were starving throughout most of their childhoods, and living in dilapidated houses or cars that were falling apart as they were being used. The rest of the blame fell on Rex, who took up odd jobs and provided most of the income for the family; however, he used most of it to fuel his addictions. He was barely around to raise his children, either working or passing out in bars, with his family going days at a time without seeing him. The parents seemed to love their children in their own ways, but they were terrible at showing it, and were neglectful on top of that. In fact, the book starts off with a three year old Jeannette getting burns severe enough to land her in the hospital for weeks because her mother was in the next room painting and letting her daughter make hotdogs for herself. The children raised themselves and were free to run around as they pleased; when several of them had been sexually assaulted, the parents brushed it off and either blamed them or said it was no big deal. The uncaring attitude strained the love the children felt for their parents. As they grew older, they stopped playing off how bad it was that they only had a couple of clothes, or that they were severely malnourished, or that they were the ones trying to scrape by on rent instead of their parents. By focusing on their own issues and problems, the parents ruined what love their children had initially felt for them. Miraculously for Rose Mary and Rex, when their children turned into adults, they came to accept — if not forgive — how much suffering their parents put them through.

In the article “Studying Chinese to Reach his Parents”, Patrick Marion Bradley followed Daniel Chen on his journey of reconnecting with his parents. Daniel’s parents had emigrated from China to the United States. They gave birth to Daniel in Brooklyn, but sent him to his grandparents in China when he was a toddler, hoping to settle into stable working conditions by the time they had him come back. He returned to the United States when he was four, and speaking Shanghainese. He started going to an English-only school; though he struggled for a while to keep up, he adapted quickly and became fluent in English. With his parents constantly working and giving him no one to practice Shanghainese with, his proficiency in the language faded and soon, he only spoke English. This created quite the language barrier between Daniel and his parents, the latter of whom had never gotten very good at English. Since he rarely saw them, busy as they were, it was only too easy for him to shut them out. When he reached teenage-hood, he saw the barrier as a positive, and used it to lie to his parents to get his way with things. Daniel was so focused on how the barrier benefited him that he didn’t realize that he and his parents barely knew each other until he was in college. The lack of communication damaged their relationship, but his parents loved him nonetheless. Daniel started learning Chinese in college in hopes of repairing his bond with his parents. In summary, it was the benefits Daniel got out of his crippled relationship with them that had him temporarily ruining their love.

Love isn’t always ruined personally, as is shown in Lisa Miller’s article, “How Intelligent Do You Have to Be to Raise a Child?”. In the case of Sara Gordon and her daughter Dana, it was society and its prejudice that harmed their love for each other. There are several reasons that Sara was scrutinized as much as she was: at the time of her pregnancy, she was only 19, and the father of the baby wasn’t in the picture; the biggest reason, however, was that Sara has an intellectual disability and an IQ of about 70. The hospital she gave birth in was concerned as to whether she was capable of caring for her baby — not unreasonable, considering she missed a feeding on the first day due to being unable to tell time on an analog clock. In addition to that, she didn’t hold the baby safely, was uncomfortable changing her diaper, failed to properly swaddle her, forgot to burp her, and watched cartoons while she cried. This all occurred within a few days of Dana’s entrance to the world, so one of the concerned hospital staff called the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Dana was put into foster care, and Sara was given an attorney by the state to aid in her attempts to get custody of her child. Dana was soon placed into the temporary care of Jenny and Daniel Fox, who later on considered adopting her, though those wishes didn’t come to fruition. Sara was allowed to visit Dana with a DCF social worker supervising them. In the while that the Gordons took to fight for custody and prove Sara’s capability in taking care of her daughter, Sara had to live with the knowledge that her child was being taught to say “Mama” by another woman, and that she was being raised with different values than the ones she wanted her baby to learn. After two hard years, Sara and Dana were finally reunited in a courthouse in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and Sara got to bring her daughter home. Despite the rocky start Sara had with parenthood, the hospital staff should not have called authorities so soon. All new parents struggle with their children, but Sara’s mental retardation was used against her, as a reason for her daughter to be taken away from her. The present society is judgemental and doesn’t always care about facts or evidence; its harsh assumptions about Sara tore apart the love between her and Dana before it could even form. It was entirely out of Sara’s hands until she got her daughter back and built a strong bond with her.

Sometimes people don’t even notice when the love they give and receive fades. Everyone gets caught up in their own lives and issues. They forget to extend the same care they have for themselves to others. As is written in the song “Do You Realize?” by the Flaming Lips, “You realize that life goes fast, it’s hard to make the good things last.” By the time people remember to wonder about how others are doing, those others are gone or have moved on. Everyone gets a little too obsessed with their own problems; sometimes, that leads to their loved ones feeling neglected and leaving. This self-obsession has ruined love for many people all over the world.

In conclusion, despite how wonderful love can be, it doesn’t always last. The reasons for that are selfishness and preoccupation with personal issues, as well as society’s prejudice against anyone even slightly out of the ordinary.


Articles Mentioned: