“There is no greater hope for the survival of humankind than in our ability to show each other unconditional love.” -Andrew W.K.
Today, quite appropriately, I’m going to talk about love . I’ve learned a lot and I have a lot of feelings, so here we go.
You don’t necessarily learn to love in your childhood home.
Maybe your family was the perfect American cookie-cutter, and maybe yours wasn’t. Regardless, there are few things more harmful than the belief that you are solely the product of your upbringing. No matter how incredible (or not) your parents were when you were a child, your future is up to no one but you. Did you spend your childhood fearing your dad, fighting with your mom, wishing your siblings would leave you alone? You do not need to live your adult life like that! The love your family shares is a very specific type of love, one that is inherited, not requisite. Repeat that. It’s inherited, it’s ingrained in you, and maybe you are lucky enough to have a supportive family, but it it is not the only love you’ll know. You will be able to look back, as an adult, and recognize imperfections and you will love that familial love for what it is, and maybe nothing more. And that’s okay.
Loving yourself is not required before you find romantic love.
How many freaking “inspirational” (heavy emphasis on those quotation marks) quotes have you seen, proclaiming it impossible to be loved by someone if you are anything but blissfully happy with yourself? I can tell you from personal experience… that adage is sincere bull. When I met my husband, I was on the path to realizing I wasn’t so bad, but I wasn’t comfortable enough in my own skin to preach self-love until about two years ago. I certainly have always listened to my body, physically and mentally, which has made me tuned-in to what I need at any given time, but would I call that love? Definitely not. I credit my husband with helping me realize that I am worth my own love.
You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) fight with your partner to prove you’re in love with them.
You hear, so often, about how arguments are a necessary part of relationships. It would be crazy to say that you shouldn’t argue with your partner, ever – that’s not what I’m talking about. I’ve lost track of how many of my friends have come to me after having serious, frightening fights with their significant other… only to tell me they’re back together again, a short time later. That terrifies me. My husband and I have had our fair share of disagreements over the last four years, but I’ve never considered them actual fights. After living on this planet for 29 years, I can confidently say that no pros are worth the cons of screaming, arguing, hurt feelings, and definitely not any amount of abuse. (Real talk, if you are in an abusive relationship, get. out. of. it. There are resources and people who will help you.)
Friend love is just as important as love love.
I would be nothing without my closest friends – they were the subject of my previous post, if you’re so inclined to read a little more about how awesome they are. My husband has had to understand that he’s sharing space in my heart with some other very important people. There’s this mindset that you have to focus all your love on the person you’re romantically involved with. Guess what! The more you love the people around you, the more love you have to give. Tell your friends you love them. List their qualities that shine for them, and go out of your way to make their days better. That love will be returned to you, ten-fold, I promise.
When you DO figure out how to love yourself, you will find greater joy than you knew was ever possible.
Let me summarize my journey to self-love for you. When I was 10 years old, I developed horrific depression. Crippling anxiety soon followed. I coasted along moderately alright until college, where I realized the thing I thought I always wanted to do was a terrible match for me. College and my first few years post-grad were a super fun spiral of doubt and low self-esteem, paired with debt and no sense of purpose. It wasn’t until I was about a year into my current job that it hit me – I was okay. And, after I realized that… I was able to let myself feel more than okay. I was able to take a step back from myself, so to speak, and look at my choices, where I’ve gotten in life. I realized I really like the woman I’ve become. And, as with other relationships, that like eventually turned into love. I used to look back on some choices and cringe… now, I see them as things that helped shape me into the woman I am today. I love that woman.
I hope you’ve found some sort of love today, dear reader!