Love is about nurturing one’s own growth or another’s growth, she told me. Love is not instinctual. We choose to love a romantic partner, a relative, a friend. “Love and abuse cannot coexist.” What about feeling? “When we feel deeply drawn to someone, we cathect with them; that is, we invest feelings or emotion in them.” Cathexis is different from love.

It was painful to admit that the relationship I had just left was rarely love. Painful to admit that I had not known regular love, had not been regularly loving to people I claimed to love. But with that admission came more freedom.

I felt free to grow through critique. I started reevaluating relationships and people and myself. Who had been a constructive force in my life? Who had been a destructive force in my life? Was I a constructive force in my own life, or in the lives of others?

We can ask the same questions of America: Who is a constructive and destructive force in America’s political life? Who is wounding America? Who is putting Band-Aids on problems that need surgeries?