I’m in a new relationship, and I’ve been trying to figure out what is missing.
Although we haven’t been together long, it feels like we have known each other forever. It is like the idea of us has always existed. And yet, I’ve noticed an absence that, for a while, I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But something has definitely been missing.
And then I realized what I’ve lost: The lack is gone.
Do you know what I mean?
I’m talking about that ache where we feel like we need more, and that we’ll never be loved enough to satisfy our hunger for it. I’ve always felt this sharpness under my skin—this incredible, insatiable need for enough love. And I’ve always assumed that I would have to shape my life around this emptiness, because nothing ever eased the ache…until now.
There is no lack, no ache for a love I deeply need, but cannot feel. There’s no lack because in every moment, I feel deeply loved. I feel cherished and seen. And I look back at the wasteland of relationships that only ever felt like a lack of love, and I see that this is what was missing.
When I realized that the factor that’s changed with this new relationship is the absence of that ache, I realized that there’s something I need to do now. And that something is to deliver this message:
One day, you will be loved enough.
To you, reading these words and wondering if you’ll ever get your fill of the love you need: Take a deep breath, and say it with me, “Yes, one day I will be loved enough.”
Because in every relationship where there is an ache for enough love to fill this hole in you, I’ll tell you this:
First, you have to make sure that your self-love is where it needs to be. And when you have a beautiful, passionate, extraordinary love for your unique self, then you are ready to be loved enough. So make sure this is where it needs to be. Make sure you’re not expecting any other human being, pet, hobby, or faith to fill this for you.
Secondly, when you are in a relationship that makes you ache, and wonder, and starve for the love and affection you need—see if it can be fixed, and get out of it if you can’t. Don’t walk away: Run.
Run like hell. Run as fast as your feet can carry you, but go now. I promise that you will most certainly experience loneliness, fear, and a hurt so raw that it will feel worse than that ache that seems so mild and familiar to you now. But on the other side of all of that deep, raw, authentic life experience is a love that will be enough for your particular soul. And this life is far too short for you to waste a moment on a love that isn’t enough.
When your faith in this love is shaken—when you feel sure that this love is only a myth—please don’t give up. Stay open. Stay vulnerable. Take a time-out from dating to restore your soul if you feel worn. Give yourself time to rest, to heal, to commune with your own heart. But stay open and keep the faith that the only love worth having is the one that doesn’t make you feel like the problem.
I look back at the last love, the one that kept me off-balance and riddled with anxiety, and I can honestly say that the love I felt was real—real, and big, and overwhelming in its intensity. And it was also filled with pain, with uncertainty, with a sense that I could never be good enough. And I secretly thought that maybe this is all I get—a failed, lackluster marriage, and a love affair so completely one-sided as to break the hardest of hearts. I didn’t believe that a heart as big as mine could be filled enough for the ache to ever just quit.
Please keep the faith. Because I write now in the peace of being loved enough. Of knowing now what it feels like to be loved in words and in actions, and to never question for a moment where I stand. This love is an honest one; it is a love where I never have to make myself less to make anyone else feel like more. I can own and speak my truth, without fear, even when digging into past love and raw hurt, and the darker places twisted up inside of me.
When the love that can fill you does find you, I will offer these cautionary words: Hold steady and don’t run from it. When all you’ve felt is a lack of love, feeling enough love will almost certainly scare the hell out of you. It will bring to the surface all of your scar tissue, your past pain, and you will be sure that to love this much means that you will be hurt in equal measure. So I urge you to be ready for this, and to sit with these feelings a while, but take no action. Don’t run from this person who wants to love you. Don’t hide—or lie. Don’t self-sabotage. Simply be there. And then find a way to communicate that process.
Let yourself be loved enough. If you never have before, I know how scary it is to think that maybe you never will. And I also understand how scary it is to experience that love for the first time. And to be afraid that you’re not worthy. Or that you’ll lose it and be hurt so much more. Trust this love. Trust this person and yourself and the experience of being loved enough.
This is how it works: You’ll fall in love with yourself deeply (if you haven’t already). Then you’ll decide that our lives are too short, too fragile, and too incredibly precious for a lackluster love that leaves us feeling empty. So you’ll learn to run, knowing all the while that you’re running into short-term suffering but long-term happiness. And then you’ll hold on to the faith, even when you feel like you can’t possibly handle any more disappointment, any more deceit, any more emptiness. You’ll keep believing that one day, you will be loved enough. And you will stay open and vulnerable.
One day, you will meet someone with a heart like yours and with a love big enough to match all the love you have. And this person will give you all of that love without artifice or games. You won’t have to question it, or chase it, or make it love you. You won’t have to change one little thing about who you are to earn this love, and you won’t have to beg it to stay. You won’t question its loyalty, or look for its angle. You’ll simply be loved enough. Enough that the ache for love melts away into contentment and certainty that there is enough of it, and that it’s all for you.
So much of the time, we live with the lack thinking that this is how we should feel. We force our lives to bend and stretch around the ache for more, and we tell ourselves that the lack is in us and not in this relationship. We do whatever it takes not to upset the lives we’ve built, and inside we’re starving. But I promise you that if you’re brave enough to wait for it, or to upset the status quo and seek it out, you will find it. And on that day, you will know what it is to be loved enough.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Romeo & Juliet movie still
Editor: Travis May