“I think there’s something wrong with me. Sometimes I feel so damn lonely. I wonder if I’ll ever meet anybody who truly understands me. I don’t even know what love really means—the idea of it is so incomprehensible. Out of the six billion people on this planet, is there really anyone made especially for me? I doubt it. I must be a freak of nature.”
That is an excerpt of a larger diary entry I wrote at the age of 16. Reading it now, I feel a mixture of compassion (loneliness is, after all, a part of the human condition that age and wisdom can’t necessarily mitigate) and eye-rolling embarrassment. Such is my general reaction whenever I look back on the tender ponderings of my adolescence—when the teeniest perceived slight was reason enough to annotate all the reasons for world suckage.
My hunch is that a healthy portion of us eventually grow out of that kind of pouty navel-gazing enough to recognize that the world is actually pretty damn awesome. Indeed, it’s possible to fall madly in love with dozens, even hundreds, of people—any of whom could be suitable matches for us, given the right combo of chemistry, timing, willingness, and rapport.
But from my experience, few of us outgrow that sinking sensation in the pit of our stomachs…the one that convinces us that genuine, heartfelt connection is the rarest of unicorns.
The majority of my relationships have been sourced in what I call connection scarcity thinking. I’d go out on a few dates and usually find myself in a relationship (even if it took place solely in my head), and then the inevitable cycle of disappointment followed. I wondered if I was one of those lovelorn fools who was simply fated to a life of kissing frogs…the kind that remained frogs.
I wondered: When will I find my one true love? When will I too experience the archetypal connection where two people look into each other’s eyes and magically sense shared past lives and a mystical bond that defies the rules of time and space? The kind that will finally ease my anxiety and worry that something essential within me is broken beyond repair?
Even when I found myself scoffing at sanitized Disney versions of true love, something within me clung stubbornly to the “spiritual” notion of soulmates and twin flames. Without my really knowing it, the ideal of romance had crept into my consciousness.
After the demise of a 10-year relationship (one where I was constantly second-guessing whether or not he was the “right man”), I began doing something utterly foreign to me. I turned my desperate inquiries back onto myself and asked, instead, whether I was the right woman.
I’m not sure I came up with a satisfying answer, but I did come to the piercing realization that Prince Charming isn’t going to magically sweep in off some karmic cloud and save me from unworthiness, boredom, restlessness, and despair. And that’s okay.
I knew that something within me had been transformed when one of my clients who was struggling with getting over an old flame told me in a tone of sad resignation, “That feeling of connection is so rare—I can’t imagine experiencing it ever again.”
Because my entire past had been based on this belief that true connection is rare, his sentiment was familiar to me. But whereas, in the past, I might have colluded with him and despaired over the possibility of finding someone who would get me on a soul level, I didn’t do that this time.
I asked him to consider that his musings were just another way of maintaining a state that kept him feeling shitty but protected…immune to the disappointment that arises when we let our guard down and fully decide to give ourselves to love without waiting for some idealized person on the other side to show up and give us a reason to.
I asked him to consider the idea that in this world, which is teeming with people and possibilities, connection—the deep-down, honest-to-goodness, feel-it-in-the-marrow-of-your-bones variety—is actually all around you.
Certainly, this doesn’t discount the fact that lovers can grow apart; heartbreak is a clear and present “danger” (which, nowadays, I view as an incredible opportunity), and incompatibility isn’t just in our imaginations. Still, none of this means that connection is rare or that we can only be satisfied by one dream lover.
The myth of limited connection is something that I believe was created by people who are more afraid of love than they are open to it. I know, because I was one of those people. In setting up impossible hoops for potential suitors to jump through, and in creating very specific conditions that needed to be met in order for me to feel understood or loved, I was getting exactly what I secretly desired: a self-fulfilling prophecy that allowed me to feel safe, self-righteous, and secure in the bubble of my idealism.
When I came to understand the universe as a fundamentally supportive place, my vice grip on the idea of all-consuming romantic connections finally relaxed. Now, I see every connection I make as being just as fated as the rest. From this perspective, nothing in my life is a mistake, but a gift.
This state of receptivity, which I believe is innate to who we are, shows us that connection is not rare at all. It is, indeed, possible to fall in love with the world around you, which can create an ecstatic feedback loop that leads to even more experiences and expressions of love—both to and from you.
When we are disappointed or hurt, naturally the heart contracts. We shut down our emotions, and we discover that the world often responds to us from the same state of shutdown. A world of shut-down people generates more of the same—but a world of courageous, vulnerable, wide-awake people who fully expect to be met with experiences of beauty and wonder cannot help but transform the bleak gray panorama into a colorful vista.
We cannot experience this great epiphany if we don’t begin with ourselves.
In relationship, we see our true nature—infinite, exalted, and overflowing with the abundance of love—mirrored back to us. This is what every single one of us wants, but it is our stinginess and withholding—not someone else’s inadequacy—that block us from our desire.
The entire notion of soulmates and twin flames may very well be true. It may very well be that the most passionate love we experience can only occur with a selective handful of people. Personally, I have not experienced this. I don’t think I’m missing much, actually.
If you consider the Buddhist notion that every single one of us is connected in an irrefutable web of existence—where we’ve all spent past lives as each other’s mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, lovers, and friends—then perhaps we are all soulmates waiting to discover each other.
Author: Nirmala Nataraj
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Peter Megyeri