Love. Awww. The best feeling on this planet. I believe it’s why we’re here (to soak in it, to give it, to receive it, to enjoy the beauty of it). Yet, it eluded me for so long. Will my prince come tonight? No. Still no knock at the door. Damn. I guess it’s another night of The Bachelor for me.
I fantasized about the day when my dreams would be answered. What will he look like and how will he sweep me off of my feet?
(Yikes. Did I really buy into this?)
Of course I did. Surrounded by Disney’s fairytales as a child, how could I have not? Love. If I wanted it, it was to be found with another person- a prince preferably. And since we all know how many frogs it takes to find the prince, the idea of love started to become pretty gloomy, like some foggy, mystical, elusive dream.
I knew love was something I wanted, but the prince still hadn’t come, so I remained without. Oh well. There were many other experiences to be had. Joy. Fun. Excitement. Achievement. Wrap all of these together and it made for a pretty satisfying life.
Yet, I still viewed myself as incomplete, as missing something, as needing something to be whole. So, I took it from Snow White and sang to my dwarfs, “Oneeee day my prince will come!”
And sure enough, one day he did. He knocked on my door with a horse-drawn carriage! I couldn’t believe it! Ok, maybe not. But…he did turn me on, he made me laugh, he made me smile, and he even made me feel liked I’d entered that dreamy, elusive state.
This was it! I was complete. And I spent several years happily delusional under the belief that this man completed my life. And I also spent much time unhappily delusional when he couldn’t complete me, when he had his own life to live.
Fights happened. Distance happened. And, eventually, a breakup happened. And I was right back where I started: incomplete. Only now I was devastated, resentful, confused and pretty guarded as well.
To be honest, I started to feel like I could do without love. Love had the ability to complete me, but it also had the ability to rip me to shreds. Love now felt scary. As long as love was to be found in some other person, it could be taken from me. Things change. People change. Why would I want to set myself up for that?
It wasn’t until my breakup left me with my heart on the floor that I realized I had to take my power back. I had to stop buying into this belief that love was outside of me. I was tired of putting my heart in the hands of someone else.
What was the answer then? I had waited so long for the fucking prince to come. Now what? Just wait for another one? It seemed so much easier to just create my own fairytale. And once I firmly believed I could, everything changed.
Forget Disney. How could I sweep myself off my own damn feet? How could I start fully showing up for myself? What was my idea of living the dream? What was my idea of feeling in love with life?
The first idea that came to my heart? Travel. Taking a trip somewhere completely foreign on my own. This was my idea of an exhilarating love affair; this was my idea of tending to my heart!
I booked a flight to Portugal and a surge of joy rushed through me. Suddenly, with one click, I realized I was capable of giving myself everything I desired, love included. I didn’t have to wait for someone else to give it to me. A tidal wave of freedom washed over me and drowned the illusions I’d been sold as a child.
As I pranced through the streets of Lisbon, I felt a love I’d never known. A love that sang from deep inside my soul. A love I’d denied myself for so long. A love so overjoyed that I’d finally let it out. It became clear as day that love had never been in just one person or thing; it had been inside me all along just waiting to be discovered. I knew now that I could give love to myself at anytime, and guess what? I didn’t have to wait and it was completely free!
I knew right then and there that I had the power to cultivate love within and I was responsible for my experience of it. Love was my duty alone and no one had the power to take it from me.
My fears surrounding love started to loosen their grip.
Fear. Yes. My relationship with love had been one clouded with fear. First, the fear that I would never find it. And then the fear that I could lose it. I didn’t trust love.
Now I see the problem lied in not trusting myself. As I realized I could create my own love affair, there was no need for fear. I knew how to tap into a love with no end. I felt complete. I felt whole. Sure, certain people could trigger the feeling of love in me, but that feeling was still IN ME.
As my relationship with love changes, I feel myself freeing those around me. They are free to be them because I no longer need them to be anyone for me. I no longer want to make anyone responsible for sweeping me off my feet. I am grateful to everyone I have loved because they’ve helped me tap into a feeling of love within. But now I know just that- the feeling of love is within.
Am I saying that I prefer to be alone and have a love affair with myself for the rest of my life? Of course not. But as I take love into my own hands, I can love someone better now. As I cultivate love within myself, I no longer need someone to fill a gap. I can love more freely.
My life shifted when I took that trip to Portugal, when I realized I don’t have to wait for anything, especially not love. Now, I realize my experience of love is not dependent on anyone else. Do I still feel love for other people? Certainly. But I am still in love when they go. It’s not about being “in love” with someone else, it’s about being in touch with the feeling of love as I navigate my every day life.
And let’s be real. I’m not always in touch with love. There are days when old wounds flare. Days when I feel angry and frustrated. Days when I play the victim. I’m human. But I’m sure learning to come back to love faster when I fall (and that feels damn good).
What practices do I use to keep the love flowing?
- I center myself everyday. I get quiet. I go within. I tap into the knowing that all feelings stem from inside of me.
- I cultivate experiences that invoke feelings of love for me daily. Personally, I like doing yoga, or listening to music, or writing, or sitting in nature. I choose anything that connects me with feelings of awe and joy.
- I questioned my current belief system about love. I got curious. I asked myself what I currently believe and why? When I did some investigating, I found that many of my “beliefs” no longer fit for me, yet they were running my life! I started to create beliefs that felt better to me. For instance, “love can never be taken away from me.” This belief allowed me to let go of tons of fear and experience love more purely.
- I take responsibility for my experience of life. I am responsible for cultivating love within. I’m responsible for sweeping my self off my own damn feet!
- I allow others to be humans just like me. We all have wounds and fears and bad days. I want a relationship with a human not prince charming (that would make me the damsel in distress- no thanks).
- I have claimed love as my truth. This one I’m still practicing. I have to deem myself worthy of receiving a constant flow of love (not exactly the norm in a culture that teaches us we must work hard for everything we receive). Nah- just not buying into that one anymore. I firmly believe we are worthy of receiving love all the time just because.
- I know I attract on the outside what I cultivate on the inside. The really cool part is that as soon as I deem myself worthy of feeling love all the time, I will naturally attract better experiences on the outside. When I start taking better care of my own heart, I will attract people I can trust with my heart. I have to learn how to treat myself with love first. The more I tend to my own heart, the more that love will be reflected back to me by others.
It all stems from within.