“Pursue compassion and self-awareness. Then, one day, love will tap you lightly on the shoulder and say ‘I’m here.’” ~Unknown.
The other day, I met a boy. With one glance, I was spell-bound, overtaken with that “This is the One” type feeling, the sensation they say you will have when you “just know.”
I’ve only had this feeling once before in my 25 years, and since he ended up marrying someone else, I knew this strong intuition was not always an indication of reciprocity or even truth. When I gush about a man I am “in love with,” my friend always replies: “Wow, that’s great! Does he feel the same way?”
And I’m so enraptured that I don’t really bother to consider that this love could be one-sided. Indeed, when I confronted the situation, I was crushed to find out that the giddiness I was feeling was not returned.
This moment was an invitation for me to look deeply at my tendencies to fall for others, idealize them, and give them power that belongs to my own dreams instead of theirs.
For years, I have relied on my intimate partners to be my biggest fans, believing in me when I wouldn’t or couldn’t believe in myself. But this time, I received the wake-up call that unless I have confidence in my own path, and am settled in my own truth, no one else who is whole will be attracted to my plea for them to fill in my gaps.
It is time for me to look at those missing pieces, wonder why they are there, and love them until they overflow.
Noticing my patterns of feeling strong, then suddenly needy and dependent on external reassurance, I started to examine where my self-worth really comes from. So far, it seems to be fed from the outside in.
For example, I keep a sticky note on my laptop with a list of “nice things” people say for an extra boost when I’m feeling low. A positive comment will send me soaring with confidence, while even a suspicion of a negative opinion or remark will send me spiraling into self-doubt.
It is clear that now is the time to notice these tendencies, and begin first and foremost by loving and accepting them. Since “what you resist persists,” denying or rejecting these unhealthy habits would be a sure-fire way to keep them thriving.
On the other hand, a wise friend suggested that if I go curiously into my darkness, with the intention solely to explore and learn, then transformation is more likely to occur as a symptom or side-effect of that inquiry. So I began to simply witness my thoughts without judgment.
It turns out that for days and weeks after meeting him, I couldn’t get this man out of my head. The rejection I felt was akin to what I experience after a breakup. In those cases, it is easy to confuse the complaints of my bruised ego with an indelible attraction to this person.
In reality, often I want not the person themselves, but mostly just the feeling of being wanted. Having that affection withheld only causes me to crave it even more.
I slowly became aware of the counter productivity of this type of parallel relationship, and of the vicious circle this ego-game creates.
In addition, this man whom I fell fast for mentioned that part of his reason for not taking me seriously was that he was under the impression that I wasn’t taking myself or the idea of a life-long partnership seriously to begin with. And he may be right.
Though I felt that he was the sort of man I would marry, I still felt a nagging itch of insatiable curiosity that lingered—a little voice belonging to a seeker who is more in love with the search than with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There was a residual sense that my journey of love and my explorations of partnerships was not quite ready to be over.
This experience also made me realize that perhaps it is unwise to bring another person into the mix until I can be satisfied, fulfilled, and settled within my own path.
For years, I have dated a cornucopia of different men with different belief systems—a stubborn Atheist, a staunch born-again Christian, an indifferent agnostic, a Shaman-in-training, an aspiring Buddhist, a cultural Jew, and a barely-practicing Muslim. Each man came to our relationship with a different set of “truths” and spiritual philosophies while I floundered about in the mystery, learning from them as I tried to establish my own practice and moral code and beliefs.
Love with a man, however transient, however imperfect, has led me to step back and take a long hard look at unconditional platonic love. It has softly nudged me towards taking the time to build my own roots instead of perching on someone else’s branches.
My aim is now to fill myself up through connection with a deeper love that swells from some universal and unquenchable source.
I now intend to be a force of powerful faith and beauty that may wiggle or waver in the process of standing on its feet, but who is gentle with herself for every rise and fall, loving the self that is singular and at the same time, expansive…
It is tempting to look for someone else to complete us, but it is important to remember that we can nourish the dark places and flourish into the person that we have been seeking outside of ourselves. In this state of self-fulfillment, love arises first from within, and we are then open and ready for it to tap us on the shoulder when we least expect it.
Photo by camerakarrie