Five years ago, I met the man I now call my husband in the small town of La Fortuna in Costa Rica.
Call it a chance meeting, fate, or divine will, but truth be told I carved the path towards that first encounter. Before we met, I knew that I wanted to be in a committed relationship and I understood why that was important to me, but I just did not know how, when or where it was going to come together. As far as carving paths go, isn’t that how it often feels?
We may know the what and the why, but the how, when and where only become clear with time and effort.
As I carved away, there were times of confusion, feelings of hopelessness and other roadblocks. Despite that, I was on a mission to consciously step towards a life of partnership. Sometimes, I carved steps that took me forward, some that took me backward and with some I stayed in place. The important thing in the end is that I moved and eventually arrived somewhere wonderful.
As it is, looking back I can clearly see what worked and what moved me closer to meeting the love of my life. It’s a beautiful thing to glance back, without fixing the gaze, and honor the place we are standing in now and the path that got us there. This is just that: a brief glance over my shoulder, a glimpse at the steps that brought me to the present.
We all have healing steps to take in this lifetime; steps that take us closer to our true self, closer to the soul’s deepest desires. Without the steps that I share with you today, I would probably still be carving away at the path towards partnership; or worse, I would be sailing the seas of marriage recklessly to say the least.
“When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
I fell in love with others and when that did not work out, I decided it was time to love myself. I did not really know what that meant, until one day after much contemplation it washed over me as I was gazing at the sunset. It was about compassion and a lot of it. How much compassion was I willing to show myself? This is still a struggle for me, but I now have a growing number of practices and skills that serve as a reminder to be loving and compassionate to every part of who I am.
2. Opened the rooms of the heart.
We all have a past, sometimes convoluted and rough, sometimes smooth and silky to the point that it slips away. Regardless, as human beings, we can get caught in thoughts and feelings that are of the past. Lucky for us, the heart has more rooms than the mind can comprehend. When someone from the past seems to be a lingering resident of the heart, is it possible to just let him or her be there? It seems that often we struggle to either evict this person or permanently close, lock and seal the room.
At some point, I chose to stop the struggle, air out the rooms and with that some stayed and some left permanently. This helped me to realize the infinite space that resides within when we are daring enough to look.
3. Made a list.
Yes, this is a very cliché thing to do, but it is also a powerful thing to do. I made a list of qualities of a partner that were most important to me. The list was long at first and I only looked at it on occasion. Over the course of three years or so, I refined the list and imagined how it would feel to be with a person who had those qualities. When I did meet my husband, my experience of him felt very familiar.
4. Imagined being single.
When I imagined how it would feel to be with someone else, I also imagined how great it would be to remain single. I imagined what my life would look like, where I would live, what I would do and who I would become. In my mind, I really dove into dreaming of my future single life. It was beautiful and completely satisfying to be alone in this alternate reality. Having this outlook kept me hopeful for whatever the future held and re-enforced self-love (step 1). After all, if you are not the first love of your life, then who will be?
5. Sat with grief.
After some struggle, I learned that it was perfectly fine to feel sadness, even that heaviness in your heart kind of sadness. I grieved for the loss of my grandmother, my parent’s divorce and love lost. I soon found that more important than the sadness that I felt was the life experience that it gave me. The more I allowed grief to carve into my soul, the more hopeful and open-hearted I became.
Because of this, I became more compassionate to those suffering. I was more open to what life’s experiences had to offer me. Most importantly, I realized that I was not looking for someone to take away the sadness, but someone to share it with.
“Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together; even whether there is harmony or conflict; joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are only one with each other by being one with themselves, rather than by fleeing from themselves.”
~ Erich Fromm
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Daniel Garcia/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Rui Lopes/Pixoto