That’s right. This is not the post I wanted to write for you today. I sat down with the intention of writing something about love, but thought I’d be focusing on self-love, on exploring ways into really feeling the self-love you seek to give, and offering some practices to make that easier.
As I started to write, I almost immediately heard the gentle but persistently growing whispers of the post that decided to come instead. Because it’s what I do and believe, I trusted that this was what needed to come – that these are the thoughts that needed to be expressed and heard – and let go of the ifs and doubts.
I’m a couple months shy of 42 years old, and I’ve been divorced, separated, or otherwise mostly single for the past 7 and a half years. Even though my mind knows better, there is a part of me that feels so much shame and embarrassment at that number, those years, at admitting that I haven’t been in a serious relationship for all that time. Because it feels like blatant evidence of my unlovability.
Again, I know that it’s not true. I feel exTREMEly loveable in and of myself. Like, I love myself a LOT. And I can name SO many ways and reasons why I’m super loveable. Specific, varied, and plentiful ways and reasons. I mean, if I could shop for a lover and exceptionally loving soul partner, I would PICK me. Every time. And in fact I’ve done so over these past many years, cultivating deeper and truer connections within and for myself. But when it comes to someone ELSE picking me too, the truth that no one has done so in a way that fits this bill in quite some time feels like a reflection of my own failing, even when my mind doesn’t believe that that’s true at all. Even when I haven’t really, truly wanted anyone I’ve met either! (I may have thought I have in certain moments, but in retrospect what I wanted was a feeling and not a person at all.)
In these past 7.5 years I’ve grieved, felt, wallowed, celebrated, explored, accepted, unveiled, expanded, grown, trailblazed and transformed. I’ve rediscovered and reclaimed who I’d always been but lost, and I’ve become someone entirely new, too. I’ve rolled with punches and flowed like free and easy freedom. I’ve felt leveled and broken and unimaginably whole, aligned, and light. I’ve discovered what I’m meant to do here in this world and learned how to act and exist in ever-greater alignment with that, at every turn and intersection. And I’m not so sure I would have been able to do all that AND be in a loving relationship with someone ELSE.
Last March I wrote a Facebook post on love and business, and in it I revealed that I wanted to be in love again. Then too, I shared how that was an embarrassing thing for me to share. I so rarely feel embarrassed, so rarely connect to the feeling of shame. Yet admitting desires around loving and being loved seems to do it every time. Which is kind of baffling since to love and be loved is one of our most basic human needs.
Last weekend I went to Mama Gena’s Womanly Arts Experience in NYC. On Day 2 I had an epiphany and a breakthrough during a paired processing exercise. We were connecting to our pain, and had just heard and witnessed several among us share theirs. You may or may not know that I feel things deeply and am a total crier. I always have been, but I used to be really good at holding the tears in until it was safe to shed them, when it wouldn’t put someone else out or inconvenience anyone. I used to be very concerned with not making other people uncomfortable. I’ve come a LONG way in that regard and try not to sacrifice my own comfort any more in order to prevent others from feeling uncomfortable. Trusting that everyone can handle and has a right to their own experience has helped me tremendously with this, as has the respect I’ve developed for sitting with discomfort and honoring what is in all the forms it takes.
So like I said, I used to be great at holding tears in. When I left my husband, that part of myself just broke. Clean and swift, the valve no longer closed. I remember the evening of the very first day we split, standing in line to get a slice of white spinach and ricotta pizza pie before going to see Eat, Pray, Love because that was the only thing I could imagine doing at the time. Though I had been crying on and off much of the day, this was the first time it was situationally-inappropriate to cry. And my damn shut-off valve no longer functioned! In that moment, it wasn’t a question of whether to hold my tears in or to let them fall, whether to stay in line or to leave. I was stripped bare and held up by a deep but gentle strength and self-acceptance. I felt inexplicably awash in safety and truth, and for the first time ever, I understood what grace felt like.
With very few exceptions, the valve has remained soldered wide open.
So when I sat there last weekend watching and listening, witnessing the proof of other women’s pain, I wasn’t surprised that the tears were streaming. So far that weekend I had cried in recognition, in joy, in shared sadness and love. I had cried for reasons I understood and without any apparent reason at all. I was accustomed to the subtly streaming leaking from the corners of my eyes that continued on and off most of the day.
What did surprise me though was how deeply I felt these pains I was hearing, how deep the place from which THESE tears originated. Body-shaking, sob-inducing, soul-wrenching tears for some stories that I personally connected to the least yet viscerally felt the most. And when it was time to name my pain with my divinely-orchestrated share partner, what tumbled out was heartbreak. And in that moment I knew it was true. I was heartbroken.
If admitting that I wanted to love and be loved was embarrassing, and that I haven’t been loved particularly well in a long time was shaming, well admitting heartbreak is… kind of unbearable. And to reveal that I’m heartbroken not for what was, but what hasn’t yet been feels so incredibly…. Foolish. Naive. Sad.
But that’s what it is. I feel so very ready to share who I am now with someone, to be the partner that I’m only now able to be in so many ways. To experience love from this place. To metabolize it in my body and soul. After having taken my time to get here, I’m so impatient to be THERE.
And once I let myself acknowledge that and FEEL that instead of shoving it aside or pretending it’s not there, I was able to connect to the beautiful hope, joy, and freedom of knowing that I’m on my way and that it’s BEAUTIFUL to feel this, not shameful.
Love is never cause for shame.
Truth is never cause for shame.
Living our own divine light is what we’re here to do.
If there were shame to be had, it would be in hiding, burying, or dimming that light.
Or, we could dare to render shame obsolete and embrace our very own shame-free, positively thriving life.
As I danced the emotion through my body, this is what I started to feel. My beautiful partner in this exercise held space for the work and held me safe. We exchanged contact information and texts of love and appreciation. The following is an excerpt of the one she sent to me:
You opened up and I saw the release and transformation.
You looked like an angel underneath the lights.
You absolutely radiate love.
I share this with you because what feels like it needs to be said is this: We can’t experience the power of being seen the way we’re meant to be seen when we refuse to risk our hearts. Be wise, be safe, be careful, but please also be willing to enter safe spaces in which you may bare your truth and soul. When we rush and fuss and insist on making do with what’s left after we’ve given to and done for everyone else, we deprive ourselves of the conditions for deep insight, realization, and transformation to take place.
Sending you all sorts of love today, on Valentine’s day, and all the days to come.
All my soul-baring, hopeful and bright-eyed love to you.
… If you’d like to explore what it would be like to coach together, message me and we can set up a time to talk about it. I’ve got a few workshops and events in the works as well, so stay tuned if you want to know more about those as they’re ready!