I've been reflecting on my most recent relationship, and even though a couple of months have passed since it ended, it wasn't until today that I realized what was especially devastating for me.
He was the first person that I could be honest with myself about who he is, and still look at him lovingly, and say to myself, "I choose him."
I've always said that love is not enough. So it's not surprising that I've dedicated my career to bringing love to all the other moving parts...past experience, pain, trauma, fear, (imaginary) demons, limiting beliefs, and all things related.
At the end of the day, we all make mistakes. We're human, after all. For me, I strive to become more capable to fully show up in love, for myself, my loved ones, and the world.
Every day, I forgive myself for things (whether knowingly or not) I've done, said, or thought that limited my experience of love. Every day, I intend to expand my compassion for understanding where someone else is. Every day, I deepen my compassion and understanding for myself.
I will meet you where you are. Can you meet me where I am? Can we do it lovingly? Those are the three criteria I hold for someone to share this gift of life with. It includes so much more, but almost anything can boil down to one of those three things.
Love is simple. Humans are complex. Together, they're extraordinary.
What I've found extraordinary lately is how much can change and yet, how much can remain unchanged with time. It most likely taps into a quantum theory that I'm sure I could really nerd out on.
It wasn't until this year that I realized how forgiveness is an act of love. It wasn't until this year that I learned first-hand how even the best intentions can be thrown out the window the moment our past wounds and deep-seated fears are triggered.
In this equation, where is there room to be you, and where is there room to be me? How do I exist as myself, as I am, with you, as you exist as yourself, as you are, with me?
Sometimes the issue with a breakup is that it creates a lapse in the "I choose you" momentum. The doubt that lingers can cause anyone to change their mind. However, exploring that doubt can also bring clarity to our mind and heart.
We're not alone in this. No one wants to pick the "wrong" person. No one wants to be with someone who doesn't love them. No one wants to be the one feeling more invested in a relationship for a majority the time. No one wants to wonder whether or not their partner wants to be with them. Yet we make our partners feel like that all the time. So how do we do better?
I'm writing this essay to call BS on the loving-less-because-we're-feeling-scared card. Who do we become when we love because it's who we are and how we feel? No excuses.
I acknowledge that I've toned down how I've felt about people I've dated in the past. I didn't want to freak them out, or get too far ahead, but I wonder now if being cautious as to not feel too vulnerable was worth the price. I can't help but wonder how things may have been different.
The takeaway here for me is to recognize that what may feel really f-ing vulnerable to one person, may not even register for someone else. I've found we're often too caught up in ourselves to truly see the other person clearly.
To understand another is a deeply loving, conscious act.
For two people to embark on creating such understanding together may represent what it is to actually be seen, heard and loved. How much do our lives change when we feel truly seen, heard, and loved? How can we live in that version of ourselves as much as possible?
To do this is a gradual process. It starts as a minute, which if done consistently enough, becomes a habit, which eventually becomes the way be begin to see our lives differently.
When I notice that I get caught up in feeling disconnected, I refocus on subtle ways to connect again. Sometimes it's lingering longer in a hug; sometimes it's writing a note with kind words; sometimes it's sitting still long enough to connect with myself on a deeper level. I remind myself of the honor it is to get to know someone, and to let them get to know me. It's a honor to share time of our lives together...regardless of how short or insignificant the moment may seem.
The truth is that we get to decide what's significant and insignificant in our lives. It's one of the greatest powers we have...next to the realization that at any moment, we can choose.
I think this is why one of the most powerful things we can be a part of is what follows when two people look at each other, and know: "I choose you."