February 13, 2014

What I Learned About Love.


I am a party of one at the moment, flying solo, self owned and operated.

I have no one sweetheart, but encounter sweet hearts everywhere I go. I was widowed in 1998 at the age of 40, after being married for nearly 12 years. Although there have been short term relationships, lovers and friends with benefits, I have primarily been solitary in terms of partnership. It puzzles and amuses me.

Sometimes it distresses and discourages me.

There are days when I love being on my own, since there is no one else’s schedule to account for, no one else to consult with about where I go, what I do and with whom I do it. I have told myself that if I don’t get too close to someone, then I can’t feel the devastation if they die; if I don’t allow someone in, then they can’t leave or I won’t want to. If I don’t engage in a fully committed relationship, then they can’t morph into a gremlin as has happened in previous encounters.

My life is far simpler; no one to argue with, no drama. No need to change for anyone else. As a friend who has been divorced for over 20 years said “It will take someone extraordinary to bring me out of my single life.”

As a social worker who has worked in psychiatric hospitals and currently in outpatient treatment with folks recovering from addictions, I have witnessed majorly dysfunctional relationships which just may have jaded me a bit.

Pretty cynical for someone whose work is all about relationships; a therapist, a minister who marries people, a radio host with a show literally called It’s All About Relationships and someone who writes and speaks on the topics of mating, dating and relating.

For six years, I was even a greeting card text writer who penned some of those mushy love cards that parade across store shelves celebrating other people’s relationships.

On the flip side, there are times when I feel lonely, longing for that partnership with a true companion.

Someone with whom to travel inner and outer realms; an anam cara  which translates to ‘soul friend’ in Gaelic. Someone who knows me by heart and vice versa. Someone with whom to celebrate the joys and weather the challenges. And oh yes, a familiar and consistent  lover with whom I will spend a lifetime engaged in transcendent sex. Hey ! “You can’t get what you want ’til you know what you want,” per Joe Jackson. I add reinforcement from my friend Courtney A. Walsh who sagely said “Admit that you want it and you can usually have it. Deny that you want it and you’ll never, ever get it.”

I would ask myself what was wrong with me or ‘wrong with this picture’ that after so many calls out to the Universe and since I am adept at attracting most of what I desire in my life,  sometimes at the speed of thought, I had not yet found a life partner when so many other people have met their beloved. I would ponder the what-if’s…such as ‘what if there really isn’t a lid for this pot? I would question the universal plan that left me wondering if I truly am meant to be on my own. I have embraced my own sovereignty. I have made ‘the lists’ of what I want and what I don’t want. I have created vision boards.

I have written love notes to a prospective partner and love notes to myself.

I have wished upon stars and written ‘once upon a time and they lived happily ever after’ stories.

I have surrendered over and over to my current state of singlehood.

I take myself on dates and buy myself beautiful flowers, treating myself the way I want a partner to treat me.

At the urging of friends, I am no longer willing to accept ‘crumbs’, but rather, the whole cake. (Chocolate, please.)

I have had a few ceremonies in which I ‘married myself’ and promised to love and honor the woman in the mirror. I have dear and loving friends; men and women who enrich my life tremendously. What I am seeking is mutual adoration with someone who has been prepping for me as I have been for him.

I witness couples whose relationships seem to be models for what I desire and I think “I’ll have what they’re having,” so I know it is possible for a left of center, tree hugging hippie metaphysician, multi-tasking plate spinner, under the sway of The Muse who compels me to write at all hours to find that kind of love that sweeps me off my feet, has me dancing among the stars and yet roots me to the Earth.

When my husband was alive, Valentines’ Day was celebrated with fun gifts and cards that each of us had stashed under our respective sides of the bed which we would retrieve that morning. Since his passing, the automatic cringing would begin right after Christmas, when red and green lights would be replaced with red and pink hearts that would pop up like so many Morning Glories and the I Love You cards would prance across the shelves as if taunting this singleton.

I remember when I was a child, looking forward to the February holiday that brought with it an excuse to indulge in my drug of choice which is chocolate. A male friend has said that most women he knows have a relationship with chocolate, that when they talk about it, makes him blush—I am no exception.

The way back machine has me recalling the combination of excitement and  trepidation of buying a box of Valentines’ Day cards embellished with cartoon characters or hearts and flowers to give to classmates. In elementary school, we had (if memory serves) decorated shoe boxes on our desks with slots cut in them so that we could receive cards from our friends. The excitement was about seeing who thought enough of us to give a card and the trepidation was along the lines of “What if someone I gave a card to, didn’t reciprocate?” Did that mean I wasn’t worthy of their friendship or attention? There were times I was delighted and times I was disappointed.

Two fond memories that come to visit as I am writing these words involve other tokens of affection. One was the tiny gold ring my parents gave me when I was a child that I wore until I outgrew it and the other came from a Jr. High School boyfriend named Jeff. It was a silver heart shaped necklace that I wore, until we outgrew the relationship.

In the interceding years, I have celebrated the holiday that focuses on love with partners and alone. I recall a date a few years ago with someone who surprised me with a lovely dinner and a sweet gift. We remained in touch for a little while afterward. One Valentines’ Day weekend, I went into New Hope, Pennsylvania and with my friend Ondreah, and walked around the artsy riverside town outside of Philadelphia with our FREE HUG signs, embracing willing strangers for a few hours in brisk winded temps.

If memory serves, I facilitated a Cuddle Party workshop near Valentines’ Day for folks who wanted to express love but had no one in particular on whom to shower it…or so they thought.

One year, I wrote as a gift to friends, a treatise of sorts that I called What I Learned About Love:


Love without limits begins with self- love.

Love is not a commodity to be traded in exchange for security, comfort or companionship. It is an energy and an essence that has always existed and always will exist.

The source of love is not another person. It is within you. You are love incarnate.

Ask yourself WWLD?  What would love do? And then do it!                

If you feel unlovable, take a moment to consider the innocent child you once were and ask “Am I any less worthy of love that little one?”                   

Learn to love with abandon without fear of being abandoned.

Be a love sponge that soaks it all up and then wring it out on those you encounter.

Love never dies even if the person does. Their love surrounds you as if a warm, cozy blanket in your favorite color.

No one will ever love you enough to make up for not loving yourself.  

Everyone in our lives is on loan to us. Love them now.    

Love doesn’t leave, even if the person does. It leaves an imprint in our hearts forever.

Love is never wasted.

Everyone you now know and love was once a stranger.

Enabling isn’t the same as loving.                                      

Love simply…Is.                                                      

What I do know is that when he arrives, there will be a sense of  the familiar: “Oh there you are again. How long has it been?” and then we will pick up where we left off many eons ago.


Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: vancity197

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