My tantra teacher once asked me,
while I was single and seeking love,
to write the qualities I wanted in a partner—
And when I was done,
She asked me if this person reminded me of anyone.
If there was someone I could think of, perhaps, that would fit that criteria.
If maybe, it reminded me of someone I already knew.
Someone I met.
I scrutinized the list and came up blank.
And she asked me if, perhaps, I might fit most of those criteria.
Perhaps, the love I’m looking for, is love from myself.
And, looking again through impartial eyes, I realised she was right.
I don’t want to date you.
I want to be in a relationship with myself.
I want to learn to love myself as deeply as I would a lover.
I want to prepare for myself the way I would prepare a meal for you,
Spending lunchtime at farmers ‘markets,
Taking the afternoon of f work to cook,
so I could surprise you when you got home.
I want to book myself tickets to go see a movie I love,
and laugh unreservedly,
when I find myself overwhelmed.
I want to take myself where I want to be taken for dinner,
And order that extra glass of wine
And cheese for desert
Because I feel like being spoiled and I know how to do that for myself.
I want to dance terribly in my lounge room alone
To music you won’t like,
Awkward limbs swinging,
And sparkle in post-dance glow for myself and myself alone.
I want to come home and hold myself if I’ve had a bad day
Instead of beating myself up for letting the day happen to me badly.
I want to undress myself thoughtfully,
Look at myself kindly
Wash myself attentively
Scruff myself with a warm, fluffy towel
Make myself my favourite meal
Pour myself a glass of wine
And tell myself I did okay.
That I did my best.
I want to tell myself “I love you”
And I want to mean it.
I want to believe it.
I want to read until I fall asleep
Wearing my ugliest and most comfortable clothes
And learn to love myself in all of this.
The way I don’t know how just now.
Or to I lay myself down in bed, just once,
And not try to keep myself awake with work and efficiency and back-lit screens
Simply close my eyes
And feel my skin brushing softly against my cotton sheets
And let the heaviness of sleep envelop me.
I don’t want to date you.
Because I want to get to date myself first.
I want to love myself
As much as I want to love you.
I need to let me love myself
As much as I will let myself love you.
Because then I won’t expect you to soothe every part of me
I won’t need you to be there for me, to be perfect and love me perfectly, every day
I won’t need you
Because I would have learned to be there for me.
So my love can be a gift
Not a bartering chip.
Not attached to expectation
Or disappointment you can’t make the aches go away
if you’ve had a bad day too
and just need to be loved yourself.
And I want to teach you to love you
I want to give you that gift
So you don’t need me either
So you can simply want me.
Can you imagine?
I don’t want us to need each other
I want us to want each other.
And know how to nourish ourselves.
So we can focus on loving each other
Not what the other might be able to do to heal us.
So please, lover, don’t find me just yet.
Give me a few months,
Or a year at least.
So I can practice at loving me.
So I know how to love you the way you deserve to be loved.
And so when I whisper that I love you,
it can be true for us both.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Bronwyn Petry / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Armen Dz/Flickr Creative Commons