I have known love, faked love, been confused by love, made love up, forced love, run from love, and controlled-well tried to control-love. I have watched love morph and seen love grow. I have watched it die. I have been hurt by love, been healed by love, discovered parts of myself through love, been stranded by love, driven to love and driven by love. I have been abandoned by love.
I have loved and been loved.
I have searched endlessly for love, for connection. And I have loved outwardly on every level in every way.
I do not love myself.
I know that my Odyssey, as cliche as it is, is the search for true love. My battles have been fought through attaching myself to outward love as a means to find inner acceptance; true, compassionate love for myself. And I have to, at least, recognize that I am a brave and valiant fighter, determined to succeed in creating love or die trying. But I do wonder if maybe I’ve been fighting the wrong battles, creating demons instead of following my heart. Have I been fighting myself as a means to love myself? Have I missed that love is grace and not earned through punishment, but granted by the miracle that we’re here at all?
Either way, I have Don Quixoted my way through life long enough. As romantic as it is, I’m tired. So, I think I may, for once, try the path of least resistance. It goes against my very being, but insanity, as they say, is repeating behavior and expecting a different result. I may be stubborn and have dabbled in crazy, but I like to think I’m not hopeless. I’d like to think I can be taught to try something new, not just try again.
I don’t know how I came up with this. It’s probably the percolation of therapy and experience, knowing I can survive rock bottom, and the stability my little family gives me even through trauma. Whatever the culminating cause, one day I tried something new and it’s helping.
I confess that in my grief and fear I can be….well, judgy. The latest example of this is the frustration, borderline rage, I feel navigating the city streets. I swear to God, people, PAY ATTENTION!! It’s not that hard. Walk on the right side of the path, keep the flow of traffic going, and don’t be an ass hole. It’s not that hard.
When I first moved to Philly I loved walking through the crowds, being a part of the flow. Now? I hate it. All I see is people being idiots!
I hate that I do this. I hate the stress it causes. I hate the energy I waste on being angry. I hate how people don’t seem to care about each other.
Of course, this is just a simple projection of my inner fear and judgment. And I hate that too. So, I had to find a way to get from point A to point B without an angry anxiety attack.
I have been playing with the idea that we are all made of the same stuff. I have begun to take away the story, the narrative, and let it lie that we are all….well, stardust, I guess. That we are simply the same. I have stripped the complicated excuses away. I have always felt myself an outlier, I have never really felt apart of the “all”. So through my life, I created a fairy tale where I was the outsider banging on the door of existence for entry. Since this basic shift in perspective, though, this acceptance that it’s not the actions that deserve love but just the insane fact that we all ended up here at all, I began a little experiment to try and ease the angst.
As I walk down the street, I now say, in my head of course, to everyone I pass, “I love you”. I don’t mean I want them to come to dinner or even that I want to be friends. I just mean, I love you. We’re both made of the same stuff and by acknowledging that I can know love. I can love you. It is not an attachment love, but a recognition.
And guess what? It works. When I stopped putting labels on love, expectations of what I needed in return, and simply met existence with awareness, I softened. At the very least I became less hateful and angry.
For most of my life love was something I needed to fill the holes. I love love, I love being loved. I love soothing and reassurance. I love touch and acceptance. But that isn’t this love. This is a new love. A softening love. A simple, easy love.
I wasn’t loving wrong, but I was loving for the wrong reasons. There are many layers of love, many ways of connecting and I am grateful for the love I’ve known. But, I was missing the most obvious, the most simple love of all. The most basic but important kind of love. I wasn’t letting in the love that comes because we are all the same. That we’re here at all and we call came from the same source. I don’t know what that source is, but I will no longer punish myself or others because I don’t. It’s OK that I don’t know the source. Because what I do know is that if I can love strangers on the street simply because they exist, I can certainly love myself.