What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
‘What if you never find The One?’ This was the title of an article a friend sent me a few years ago. The words stood out, repulsing me in a way I did not expect. The thought of what this simple question posed fed a deep subconscious fear I had been keeping down, locked safely away from prying eyes – including my own. It now looked at me square in the eyes, suffocating me, yet at the same time pleading for me to look within.
I had entered the game of love with my highschool sweetheart at the age of just fourteen. A decade later, after two long, consecutive, all-consuming relationships, I found myself on the other side. I was in my mid-twenties, lost, confused and alone for the first time since the onset of puberty. At a time when my social calendar was filled with engagement parties and weddings, I was trying to work out who I was if I wasn’t someone’s girlfriend.
Suddenly insecurities I didn’t know existed made themselves known. Without the on-going affection of a lover, I became excruciatingly aware of my self-perceived imperfections. My breasts were too small, my nose too big, my eyes a weird shape. And did I always have so many freckles? I thought I was too dumb to be loved, too odd for anyone to understand.
The first year alone was a lonely one. I desperately wanted to feel loved again, yet no matter how many dates I went on, I never felt the connection I craved. Then I read the title of that article, and amidst the unpleasant emotions riling in me, I knew I had to change my mindset, change the way I viewed Love.
Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be. ~ Alan Watts
What if I were to never find The One? What if I never again felt the tenderness of a significant other? Would I live the rest of my days with this feeling of inadequacy? In that moment, the truth became clear.
I knew I had so much love within me, I felt like I would burst just waiting to give it to the right person – yet, I starved myself of this affection. I was already holding in me the one thing I wanted more than anything else.
To gain the love I so desired, all I had to do was look inwards towards the wealth of it overflowing at the seams of my heart. I had to find an opening to unlock the barrier keeping all that Love contained. So I took the time to get to know myself; perhaps for the first time, I learnt who I was without the need to please another. I felt each feeling and honoured it, I recognised the gifts, big and small, I could bring to the world.
Next, I looked at my relationships with friends and family, I looked at how I treated those around me. They had given me wheelbarrows of love, more than any partner, and like me, they were all so worthy of the affection I had chained up. I felt an opening arrive.
I knew then that the search was over, The One I was pining for was already encompassing me, both inside and out. I let go. I stopped holding back, swung the gates open and allowed love to flow. I let it wash over me, into the deepest crevasses of my soul, healing my wounds, and once I was whole again, the love cascaded with ease into the world. I let it pour out of every cell, gently surrounding those I cared about, gushing down the street and embracing all it met. And with each act of love, it was gifted back to me ten-fold.
Love’s greatest gift is its ability to make everything it touches sacred. ~ Barbara de Angelis
Three years on, and sometimes I find myself laughing at just how incredible my life is now. Each day I take time for self-love, I honour how I feel, and write in my gratitude journal. And with this practice, joy, love and excitement bubble harmoniously within me, creating a warm elixir in my days.
The love I have for myself and that I feel from others completes me.
Of course, there are moments when I fall off the wagon, when old thought patterns start to emerge. It is then that I turn to pieces of inspiration like the following poem by Derek Walcott; I take a moment to sit with the message, to remember what I’ve learnt, and I once again feel encircled by the truth of Love.
Love After Love – Poem by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
How do you show yourself love? What is your perfect date night with just you? Do you have a story of self-discovery around the topic of Love?
Read the article What if You Never Find The One?
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