In math, we talk of absolute value. In simplest terms, it means the distance a given number is from zero on the number line regardless of direction. In practical terms, if I receive $4.00 from a debt owed me (+4), or pay a $4.00 debt (-4), the value of the amount is the same, $4.00. The value is not dependent on the direction from zero or to whom it's being paid. It is absolute.
People often think of terms like always, forever and never as absolutes, free from the limitations of time.
But are they?
I think it depends on the context. Is a rock always a rock? Didn't it begin as a boulder only to be eroded first to a rock, and then will go on to be eroded down to a pebble and finally a grain, perhaps by these waves? The always here is constrained by the size of the object.
People bandy these words around like nothing. My husband pledged to love and honor me always. One year and ten months later he asked for a divorce, just prior to our second legal anniversary. Instead of being there to help me through my depression, he wanted out. His always was dependent upon my mental/emotional health. Did he know I was suffering from depression? Probably not. Actually, I was in denial myself, so I can hardly blame him. But, I can fault him for not trying to talk to me about it as I'm sure I didn't seem myself. I was no longer the man he fell in love with. But, that's water under the bridge at this point. Let it go....
I see forever as a synonym for always. My first partner said he would love me forever. But he passed away which, of course, he never planned on. Death is not something we like to talk about. But, it's built into our lives and death doesn't necessarily negate the forever. I still love all of my grandparents. After the death of a loved one, we do eventually move on in our lives, taking up with new spouses, while still holding on to the memories of our loved ones who've crossed over. It's common. It's expected. It's life.
It's that never, the antonym of forever, that can throw a wrench into the mix. Never, to me, implies a choice, a decision or even control; but not necessarily time.
The sun will never die. In our lifetime, that is true. But, one day, it will. Therefore, it is a false statement. I know I'm splitting hairs. But, please, follow me. Here, the never is defined by time.
I can suffer from vertigo. It's hereditary and comes from some inner ear imbalance. I have rolled over in bed in the middle of the night only to have the bed, the room and the entire planet continue spinning, rapidly, like the carrousel out of control at the end of Strangers on a Train. It's not an everyday occurrence, but damn annoying when it happens. If just rolling over in bed can send me staggering to the bathroom, what would a roller coaster do? I shudder to think. Therefore, I will never ride a roller coaster again, ever. That is my choice, my decision.
Seasons change. Feelings change.
"I could never love him." Really? How do you know? It might be a gut reaction, now. But, we don't know what the future holds. People can and do change. What if he did get clean and sober, could you love him then? What if he changed that attitude you find so obnoxious? What then? Are you saying you aren't open to the possibility that your feelings could change? Are we humans so arrogant that we believe we can control our feelings?
The heart wants what the heart wants. What a tired old cliché. But, oh so true. We don't understand how the heart works, emotionally speaking, that is. What draws certain people together, whether same- or opposite-sex, no one knows. Scientists have been working on trying to understand this for years. Many gay people can attest to the difficulties of not acknowledging what their heart wants. We learn to fight those feelings early on when they first begin to surface. By suppressing our feelings, many of us turn to obsessive or destructive behaviors: overeating, excessive drinking, drugs, or even cutting.
Life experiences also affect us. We never know what (or who) is around the corner. I never expected to be single again, especially after being partnered nearly fifteen years. (See, there I go, it's hard getting away from these words. But, in this case, I believed it to be true. After all, I was younger and in love which was reciprocated!) But, the experiences of being widowed and then divorced have made me stronger and a different person than I was then, and future life experiences will also continue to mold and shape me.
We say these words because we believe them to be true at the time we say them. And yet, they can have a deep impact on those who hear them. Many years ago, before I met my first partner, I fell in love with a guy who did not come close to the physical type of man I am usually drawn to. He was tall, skinny and blond, and I am usually drawn to tall, muscly, dark haired guys. When I professed my feelings, he said he could never love me. Never. There was that word. It didn't matter that I was too good of a friend to lose should we cross that bridge and the romance not work out. But, what if it did? But, he said never. So, we parted ways, and haven't seen each other since. I don't know if I will ever see him again.
I think what hurt most was that I never fully understood why. Why could he never love me? I had to rationalize it was not supposed to be, so I moved on. I hope he is happy wherever he is.
Sometimes we say these words for other reasons we may not know. A friend confessed to me she told a great guy she could never love him. Later, she realized she said it not because she could never love him, but because she was afraid she could. And therefore, possibly get hurt again. She had said it out of fear though she realized this after she said it. Fortunately, she had the courage to accept the truth, go to her man, apologize and own up to her fear. Brava for her!
Never is a very strong word. It carries a lot of weight. When said in an emotional context it can add a lot of additional hurt to an already painful situation.
I have been fascinated by Nature my entire life. I love seeing animals in their natural habitat. I never thought I would ever see a whale in the wild. Now, I have seen two.