One of my dear friends said that he just wants to be loved.
I get that. Isn’t love what we all want? From the time we are conceived to the time we die we strive to love and be loved.
Or do we?
I know after being married for over 17 years I am just beginning to grapple with love—what it is from what it isn’t. My divorce will be final in a few weeks and I can say the year has been nothing but change, and it is not over yet.
But the biggest change of all is coming to see possibility in its fullness. As I am known to say, anything is possible…not everything of course but yes, anything.
I could develop cancer. I could go crazy, again. I could become a Buddhist or a Fundamentalist. I could join a political party.
I lost over 45 pounds. I quit smoking last year after 39 years. I met many men and made many new friends. I may move to a new city.
I have learned that my need to need used to be the root of what I knew as love. I had a marriage that was empty because what we knew of love was limited, naïve and based on our common wounds.
Yes. I love with a passion. I love strongly. I love with attachment. I am loyal. I am giving. Yet, the love I shared with my husband lacked something at its core because it was not based on open, honest giving with respect at the foundation.
I can only speak for myself.
My need for kindness led the relationship. My need for friendship dictated the terms. My acceptance of sharing space as a means to intimacy when there was no genuine sharing fooled me into thinking something was there that was not.
Maybe at the beginning there was something more, but it was gone soon after.
Today I believe I can learn to love from strength, not weakness. Today I believe I can listen to my needs and not allow them to rule my emotions. Today I believe I can take care of myself and ask for something beyond friendship, something deeper, more real, more profound, with respect and trust at the core.
The root of love lives in how we respect. Respect demands acceptance. Respect asks us to listen to who is speaking and see the man or woman before us not as a way to fulfill a need but as someone to embrace and know. Respect moves with grace. And I find respect builds trust.
Trust is a knowing inside and out that I can give all of myself and be treated with fairness and integrity. It does not mean I won’t be hurt or cause hurt. It means I offer all that I am knowing, that I can be held as I am, with all my beauty and all my faults.
Trust and respect are the partners that inform love. Love finds its way beyond needing to give and offers fulfillment by its own fullness.
So this year I have fallen in love a few times, if briefly, because I do it so well. I can open my heart, mind and body, and offer. Yet, I have to be met as I am, with respect and trust. This year I am being met.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emma Ruffin and Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: Creative Commons Flickr