Several years ago, I fell *madly* in “love” with a man I didn’t know. It was electric, fiery, and dangerous. It was immediate and familiar. When we kissed, we both felt like we had done it before. I had the whirlwind romance they convinced us about in movies and books - where it moves so fast and feels so right and suddenly you’ve talked for too many hours and driven too far and met each other’s families and somehow committed to a long distance relationship - all high on adrenaline and hormones and no sleep. The “love” where you’re absolutely head over heels and you hope that this is IT.
It turned out to be the most reckless, insane, heartbreaking thing I’ve ever done. It was also one of the most transformative experiences of my life and catalyzed me into my own awakening. I had played it relatively safe with men and with my life for so long that I just wanted the thing I wanted and no one could tell me otherwise. I had never wanted something like I wanted him. I’m incredibly grateful for that younger version of me that knew there was more to life and took a huge leap in order to find out.
I’ve come to understand that relationships are here to teach us. When we aren’t in flow and presence, we enter into suffering. I clung, and I clung and I couldn’t let go even though he was holding me at arms length. I clung even though it had expired. I clung even though it was unhealthy and destructive. I was addicted to the feeling I had when we had met and I wanted more. I was deceived by the meaning I had made out of the relationship. I had never felt so alive, and I attributed that to him. I put him on a pedestal and refused to take him down. At some point there wasn’t really a relationship, and any relationship that existed was me trying, so hard, to keep him. I was bending and contorting to fit something that just didn’t make sense and wasn’t true to me.
I know now that the magic I felt was just him being a mirror for me to see my own greatness. I was feeling myself, and I hadn’t felt her before, not like that. He held a container to see parts of me I didn’t know about, and I loved what I saw. I felt amazing. When the infatuation faded, he then held up a mirror so I could see my crippling insecurity, my selfishness, my delusion about love and romance, my weak foundation, and my own self denial. I was soldiering through life, convinced everyone else had a problem and I was here to save them. I was a person in huge amounts of pain, and I had not addressed any of it. I didn’t even know you could. Even though I spat on romanticism, a deep embarrassing part of me thought that maybe here was my Prince Charming - someone who will finally save me from myself.
I had unknowingly made my life loud and chaotic to distract me from me.
The self betrayal required to stay in a non-relationship relationship beats you to a pulp. It’s lonely in there. You go crazy. I didn’t want to believe I was a fool, so I presented as strong and sure of myself, while deep down I was defeated. People in your life roll their eyes. You can’t stop talking about the relationshit, and/or you hide it from everyone because deep down you know there are just brief moments of goodness, with huge gulfs of anxiety in between. You think it’s normal to be in limbo. You start to think maybe love is just painful. The chaos feels like home. You’re exhausted by the hot and cold, but it consumes your mind anyway. You’re trapped in fantasy. You feel stuck, pathetic and angry.
You don’t know who to trust because you just wish everyone saw what you are convinced you see, which is that they are everything and the thing and your thing. You hold secrets and bury the hard parts because you can’t bear the truth. You tell yourself all sorts of stories to make it okay. You wait, and you wait. You play it cool. You are dehydrated and any drop they give you feels like an entire cool, crisp lake. It’s confusing and dark and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I allowed him to use my generosity, my body, and my light while I suffered, and suffered - wanting something more but shrinking to fit the small container that the relationshit was.
The humiliation drove me to rage which drove me to self harm. It was undeniably the lowest I had gone.
Because of that experience, I dove deep into myself and I’ve been building from the ground up ever since. Our culture robs us of the practical, real steps to true love and union. We are convinced that if we just work hard enough, we will be loved. If we just wait long enough they will wake up one day and choose us. If we sacrifice enough of ourselves, we will be good enough for them. We can’t tell the difference between the good kind of hard and the soul-sucking, lonely, self-esteem shattering kind of hard. We think we have something to prove, and we will tear our life apart to do it.
We think that someone choosing us will make all the pain go away.
What they don’t tell you is that sometimes you have to break your own heart.
They don’t tell you that you have to tend to your own garden and cultivate your own wholeness. They don’t tell you that when you hold on to one thing, you block better things from coming in. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. No amount of lying to yourself can make the delusion real. The depth I was forced to fall made me swear that I would never again objectify myself and another person in order to feed my own self loathing and fear. After too many months of research, audio books, blogs, crying my heart out, and a truth bomb from a good friend, I went no contact.
Before that, I thought there was a badge for staying “friends” with people who had devalued me and proven there was no friendship to begin with. Before that, no contact sounded extreme, dramatic, and at its core - too difficult to pull off. But two years ago I saved my life and showed myself strength I didn’t know I had. I began to understand the power of real friendship, and the foundation that it is to true love.
I realized loving him meant letting him go.
I cut my addiction, and I was finally free for the universe to bring me what was truly for me. I was free to live my life, and so was he.
I had to reckon with the fact that I was emotionally unavailable and terribly afraid of real love. I wanted to blame the men who had hurt me, especially him, but I had to face the deep ache in my heart and ask myself some really hard questions. I had to take radical self responsibility for the life I was living. I was an adult making adult decisions. I could not give my power away by telling a story where I was a victim. I could not stay angry forever. There had to be more. My dating patterns reflected someone who hadn’t been brutally honest with herself, who allowed emotional abuse, and relied on men to steer the ship. I was passive, clueless, insecure, and didn’t know what I stood for. I couldn’t even stand up for myself in friendships. I had no idea what I wanted and had not crafted my own vision. I was riding on the flimsy one that had been given to me by equally clueless adults from totally different eras. Even if I thought I wanted a real relationship, my actions only revealed otherwise. I had no idea what love was, and couldn’t extend the purity of that concept even if I tried.
My weak, boundary-less version of love and life allowed anyone to fill a role and take up all of my precious energy. It made a doormat out of me and I realized I was getting trampled by everyone and everything. Getting clear on who you are and what you need is scary because you lose a lot at first. Things fall apart and the pain almost doesn’t seem worth it. But I’ve realized that authenticity is the road to personal freedom and discernment. What I have gained is undeniably better than the lousy crumbs I was feeding on before. In reality, there is plenty of the good kind of love to go around, I was just too distracted to see it.
Now, I choose myself. I have my own back. I am giving myself the love I have dreamt a man would give me. My intention is to see, and to act on that seeing. I am severing things when the time is up. I say thank you for the lessons, instead of wishing it had lasted forever. I take people seriously when they say they are not available or they don’t know what they want. I am trying to meet people where they are, because I am meeting myself where I am. I am committing to my needs and my peace. I am no longer settling for less. I am listening to my body when it says, this isn’t it, this isn’t good enough. I am surrendering and looking at the cold, hard evidence. I’m getting better at knowing who is meant to stay on the journey with me. I’m basking in the gifts that come after the difficulty of letting go. I know now that I’m not weak for needing someone to leave me alone. My time and my energy are precious resources, and I decide how they are spent and experienced.
It IS scary because a part of me really doesn’t think true partnership exists, and I’d rather spend my time chasing and settling and sacrificing so that I don’t have to sit with myself. But the more I try to act on faith - a word that used to feel like a stab in the heart - and the more I take a step forward into the mystery and unknown, the more I enjoy my own presence. I realize I am the magic I have been looking for. I am IT. I was right here, all along. She is radiant, exciting, daring, loveable, strong, and all I’ve ever wanted. I am the best love story there ever was. I am no longer using others to fill the void that I am responsible for filling. I am no longer putting myself in harm’s way for a temporary high.
If partnership is meant for me, I will enter it whole and with vision. It will add to my life, not take away. If motherhood is for me, I will build my backbone for it now because my children deserve a mother who knows her worth. I will be my own best partner before expecting someone to fill that role. I no longer want to be afraid of my own power and depth. I will bring all of it because I will have discovered it on my own. The mirror they hold will only confirm what I already know about my divinity and glory.
The ache in my heart is no longer what it was. My heart is beating stronger, more openly, more hopeful and more loving than it did years ago. But the road has been undeniably rough. Our self respect has to be earned by our own choices, and those aren’t easy. Our self confidence can’t be faked, it must be built over time. Our mind needs evidence that we trust ourselves and act on intuition - the push that takes us to our higher calling.
Growth and expansion requires us to enroll in the emotional bootcamp that is choosing ourselves.
We were never meant to be fools on a spinning wheel. We were never meant to chase what is not for us. We were never meant to settle based on fear. We were never meant to stay small and be tamed. We were never meant to stay in something just because we already invested in the first place. No one owes us anything, and we don’t owe them.
Now, when a door closes, I say thank you. I praise the heavens. The path is cleared and I ask, what’s next? And then I know where to go. I aim to follow my expansion, every time.
I’m trying to believe in a love that comes as ease and flow. It is peaceful. It is chosen and it is confident. It is thoughtful and the understanding is mutual. I am filled up by it and it inspires me. It is heaven on earth. It is playful and present. It does not require me to shrink, excuse, or lie. It embraces my full self and allows me to fly in confidence. It is respectful, and acknowledges the incredible gift that is intimacy.
I am taking the time to be vulnerable with myself and dream bigger, more beautifully than I ever have. I want to believe it was all meant to be more magical than this. I want to believe that we were meant to be free.
Being interested in everyone’s liberation requires me to be very interested in my own. So that when I tuck myself in bed at night I know that I am enough, just as I am. Whole and beautiful, as I always have been and always will be. I forgive myself for mistreating myself. I had just forgotten who I really, truly am.
I know now that I am here to remember.