I have been BOMBARDED with a message about love today. I follow a ton of therapists, coaches, and relationship “experts” online, so love is an everyday theme in my life, but today was different. It was specific & repetitive. In posts I read, conversations I had, and the thoughts bouncing around my head…
To life. To pain. To love.
I am VERY happily single right now and am not even trying to date or “find” someone or any of that nonsense. I’ve got too much shit to do, I don’t feel remotely ready for dating or an actual relationship yet.
But I do still think about these things a lot. My own work in coaching tends to lead to daily conversations about love and relationships and healing all those painful stories we carry around. Whether it’s from romantic love, the love of friends & family, or self-love, love and the absence of it tends to be at the root of most things that ail us.
On a personal level, healing the wounds I’ve had to heal means re-learning how to love & be loved. Every relationship teaches me more about myself and the world; how I need to be loved and how I can show up to love others. There are lessons to be learned in every interaction. Every person acts as a guide; showing me what I like and don’t like, how I want to be treated and what behavior is intolerable.
When it comes right down to it, love IS my life. It informs the way I see the world, the way I interact with people, and most importantly, the way I view myself. It all comes back to love.
But it’s not all sunshine & rainbows.
Love broke me. It absolutely destroyed me. We expect love to equal safety, so when events transpire that show us otherwise, our whole world becomes fragmented. Nothing makes sense. Love is no longer safety, but danger. Something that was once beautiful is now disfigured and horrifying.
A broken heart is so much more than a broken heart… it’s a broken life. A broken world.
But in the midst of all of that confusion and pain, I made a radical decision. I can tell you exactly where I was when I made this decision. What was happening, what I was feeling, all the emotions overloading my mind and body… it was an extremely impactful moment. One that caused me to snap and say no.
I will not let this change who I am.
I will not be a bitter and angry person.
I will not sacrifice my integrity to be spiteful.
I will not close off my heart to the world.
I refuse. That isn’t who I am.
I didn’t realize at the time what a huge, empowering choice I had just made. By defining who I wasn’t going to be, I was making a declaration about who I was. Who I AM.
By refusing to close my heart, I was choosing to keep it open.
I’m not gonna lie, this meant feeling a depth of pain and grief that I had never experienced before. It was excruciating. But if you have a deep wound, the only way to heal it properly is to clean it out first. You can’t just put a bandaid on while there’s still dirt and bacteria in there, that is only going to compound the problem. You’ll get an infection. No… you have to inflict more pain first. You have to pour alcohol on it and let it sting.
That shit hurts.
But you have to do it.
The pain is part of the healing.
Love is what broke me, but because I chose to keep my heart open, love is also what healed me.
I’ve been loved well. When my view of love was shattered, people came into my life who put it back together.
They loved me when I couldn’t believe in love. They loved me when I couldn’t love myself. They loved me when I questioned their motives; when I pushed them away because I was so scared that they would hurt me too.
They showed up, and they stayed. They said it through their words and their actions. They sacrificed time, energy, and sometimes money to show me that I was loved. They are small children… older, wise women… men of integrity without an agenda… soul sisters separated by thousands of miles but connected by spirit… and everyone in between. Some have been in my life for as long as I can remember, and others have only been around for a matter of months, or even weeks. The length of time is inconsequential, love is love.
And if you think even for a split second that I’m talking about you, I for sure am. Your presence in my life has made a difference. Thank you for loving me back to life. You have rebuilt my heart, and continue to do so, one tiny piece at a time.
Your ability and willingness to love me has given me the ability and willingness to love myself. And it has ignited a passion in me to spend my life loving others, because everyone deserves this feeling. To be seen, and known, and cared for. Thank you for giving me that kind of love.
Love hasn’t looked the way I thought it would, but it’s transforming into something even more beautiful than I could have imagined. It’s transforming ME… both through losing it and finding it again. And I can now say that I’m thankful for it all. I could not feel the depth of this love without first feeling the depth of the pain. Choosing to stay open is choosing to feel it all.
I’m no longer afraid of heartbreak. If I hurt, then I loved well. I gave it my all… and that is the kind of life I choose to lead. With a tender heart (and very firm boundaries).
Because the truth is, I do still want a great love story. I now know the depth and capacity of my love and I want someone who can meet me there. I want a partner I can build a life with, who will push me in all the right ways, so I continue to grow and evolve. Real, deep, true love, that I now know is possible.
But here’s the thing…
I know it’s possible because I already have it.
I’m growing by leaps & bounds and none of that hinged on *one* person showing up. I’m already sharing the depth of my love with the people who are in my life *now*. I’m building my life and have amazing people all around me for support. I get to choose to be my best self at all times, right now, with everyone.
I’m already living my great love story.
My entire life is my love story.
And I’ll forever be open to whatever comes next.