Chris Byers, MA, LMHC
In The Name Of Love
The word love comes up often in our therapeutic work. It is a powerful word, and one that carries a plethora of different uses, meanings, and expectations. Especially in our work with couples, it seems to take on a life of its own. Therefore, the Grey Sky Counseling team decided to spend some time this month on the topic of love and attempt to illuminate various aspects of both healthy and toxic love, from a therapeutic perspective.
There is a popular saying in the recovery community that states “living life on life’s terms.” Life certainly has a tendency of throwing curve balls, and when the mountains of life get pretty gnarly, this truth helps me ground myself. Well, this has definitely been one of those weeks. Losing another hero this past week has weighed particularly heavy on my heart. When we setup our blog schedule for the month, I was super excited to step into this topic, and on this particular day, because of the significance it holds for me both personally and professionally. On April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was brutally assassinated. Thus, I’m feeling particularly tender on this year’s anniversary, my heart already primed with grief.
If you follow along in my blogging journey, you will figure out pretty quickly that Martin has had a profound impact in my life, particularly my work as a justice driven psychotherapist and social-entrepreneur. So much of my therapeutic approach and understanding of healthy justice has been informed by his intersectional work. Our Emotionally Integrative Therapeutic (EIT) approach places significant importance of the functions of emotions and how they illuminate critical needs for us to survive and thrive as humans. Continuing to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King helps provide a helpful starting place as we explore the topic of love, one of our greatest needs for thrival.
While this day of remembrance holds pain for many, myself included, I firmly believe a close examination of Martin’s life, and death, helps us boldly step into understanding that love is a matter of justice. With our substantial emphasis on emotions, one might be surprised to discover that I emphatically do not believe love is an emotion. However, before you throw me out with the bathwater, I do consider healthy love is a recipe full of emotions. So much of my therapeutic work is dedicated to reclaiming a healthy and more just definition of anger. Anger illuminates our need for justice and passion. Healthy love is the epitome of justice and passion. Therefore, you simply cannot create it without a heaping dose of anger.
While the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a devastating blow to the work of civil rights in this country, his life’s work was fiercely dedicated to the nonviolent resistance of injustice in this world. His dream and vision were not one that saw love as a privilege for one people group over another. Martin’s passion was a love that was inclusive for ALL. His fight for equality, equity, mutuality, and reciprocity is an exemplary stance for anyone to follow. Yes, he was not perfect, and I believe love too, is imperfect. It will never happen perfectly. However, healthy love is fully capable of owning that it is created for good, with a capacity for harm.
Healthy love nonviolently fights for justice, for relationships that are equal, equitable, mutual, and reciprocal. If you are needing a litmus test to evaluate the state or quality of your relationship(s), I implore you to consider applying a MLK love hermeneutic in your examination process. On this 54th anniversary of his untimely death, we can honor his legacy by following the same north star of healthy anger in our lives by embracing more just versions of loving self AND other. Love and acceptance is THE foundation of our emotional needs as humans. Martin knew this to his core and was willing to die for it. One more in the name of love.
"Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love."
-Paul David Hewson