For most of my adult life I had romantic love, and then I didn’t and then I had it again and so on and so on and so on. Always the having or not having. Always the joy or the heartbreak. Always the quest. I have spent endless hours discussing countless scenarios with my girlfriends. Women can spend more time discussing love and lovers or the lack there of than men, even in their wildest imaginations, could imagine. We collude with each other and conjecture what we should or shouldn’t do or what the man meant or feels or doesn’t. It’s exhausting and yet we never stop. Endless and painful and yet comforting and familiar.
Recently, I realized I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I realized that love had to come from “within” and not from “out there”. My go to belief was that self-integrity was paramount to achieving self-love. One’s word is not only golden but it is the quickest avenue to achieving self- love. But I know now that self-integrity is not enough. To truly love oneself, we also need to self-actualize. We need to be living up to our soul’s potential. We need to be at least moving in that direction.
We need to understand we have a purpose on this earth, each time we come around. This purpose transcends the drama of our lives. We need to be bigger than our littleness.
These last four years have been an interesting journey for me. A never-ending journey of introspection and learning and growth and self-discipline. I have been learning to love both my divinity and my humanity. My awesomeness and my flawsomeness. My independence and my neediness. Within all this work and growth, I have learned that I must step out past old fears and move forward. I can only be as big as the fears I conquer. To this end, I keep moving the needle. I continue to say to the Universe: “Bring it on! Whatever you have in store for me, I will give it my best shot!” I try something and succeed and feel joy and respect and pride for myself and then I move the target again. I’ve ticked things off my bucket list and I’ve pushed my physical and emotional limits so they are forever evolving. I am “Grasper” the crab who keeps out growing his hard shell and then making myself softer and more vulnerable so I can grow in to yet a bigger shell. Repeatedly, I am molting and growing and stepping out. (Grasper in Debbie Ford’s Book: The Spiritual Divorce)
Coming to Thailand alone for 2.5 weeks has been yet another challenge and fear now conquered. I have challenged myself and fallen madly in love: with myself. I am so happy and grateful and proud of myself that I am bursting my shell wide open from the joy of it. I have feared traveling across the world alone for so long and now see how amazing it is to go alone. I am meeting great people and learning to rely on myself and I see what a surprising gift it is to only worry about my needs and desires.
And so, for a moment I thought: all this time I have been looking for love in all the wrong places. I thought I found the answer. All the self- help books say that you just need to love yourself. So now, I am looking within and finding true love, but I can see that is not all that is needed.
The answer lies in duality. The answer lies in the understanding that self- love must come first. Self-love must be the baseline. How can anyone love me if I can’t love myself? So, my love for myself has been growing steadily through all my learning and teaching and experiencing and growing. But I also understand that I need love from others as well. I need to love myself enough to open my heart to the love of another. My hard-shell needs to soften and stay soft. My hard-shell needs to give way to vulnerability and the fear of once again being broken open. I am learning to trust that my huge heart that loves me so completely, can withstand anything that comes my way. I can be that strong and that soft.
I am a work in progress. But progress I am making. I feel so free and empowered and grateful and hopeful. I am opening to possibility. I am open to not only giving love but more importantly to being able to honestly and bravely receive love.
Thank you, Universe, for showing me: me. When you stop and think about it, what else is there but love?
Nancy from Thailand