“I can say with great certainty and absolute honesty that I did not know what love was until I knew what love was not.” ~ P.T. Berkey
Only through learning what love isn’t do we finally realize what it is.
It seems that there is an irony that pulses within this truth, tempting us to the edge of fate, where we only discover what love is by losing it—or ourselves. We learn not just about who we are, but about what love means to us through having our heart broken.
Pain is the teacher of pleasure.
Each new relationship we enter into, we expect that it will go better than the previous ones—that somehow, the mistakes we made in the past won’t translate or appear within a new partnership. And for a while, that seems true enough—until once again, we are triggered by the other person, or because we begin to react and self-destruct because of our issues involving intimacy.
Perhaps it just comes down to learning about every type of love that doesn’t make us into the best possible person we could be, before we are able to discern the difference between that type of “love” and a real love that inspires us.
Love isn’t just about relationships, and it’s not just about those feelings that we hold externally for someone else. Love is in the make-up of who we are. It’s what we believe in and how we approach the world.
Love is what makes everything possible.
However, there is a scale of transitioning that we must go through in order to be satisfied by love.
We have to go through certain types of relationships that will provide the necessary lessons our soul needs to learn. Each one is different yet integral to our overall development as a lover and partner. We need to be challenged by our feelings of worthiness, our issues of intimacy, and perhaps most of all, our own level of acceptance toward ourselves.
Some of us may only need to learn these valuable lessons through one tumultuous relationship, while others will find themselves perpetually dating and never really absorbing any new knowledge.
Where we find ourselves is reliant upon where we are willing to travel.
As much as we may be triggered by another, we are only able to learn as much as we are willing to learn. We could probably dress all this up in decorative conscious language, but it really all comes down to whether we are owning our sh*it—or not.
Learning what love is for me will be a different journey than learning what love is for you.
We each have our own set of experiences and expectations—our own scars and demons. Even if we hope to all arrive at the same destination, we still each have to take our own path to get there.
If we don’t feel worthy enough to be in a healthy relationship, then we will continue to work through those issues until we realize what our own worth is. Often, this is done unconsciously. We may choose people who don’t treat us the way we want to be treated. Perhaps we’ve chosen a partner who cheats, lies, or just simply (and sometimes worst of all) doesn’t seem to really see us or understand what we are all about.
But we still stay in this relationship—or repeatedly enter into similar ones—because we haven’t learned that we deserve more, and that ultimately, we’ll end up with people who mirror how we see ourselves.
There are many lessons that we can learn for ourselves by doing individual soul work, but intimacy issues are something that we carry with us from our childhood experiences into our adult romantic relationships. They test us in many ways: How close we are willing to let someone get? Are we willing to risk being a fool for love? Are we able to get real enough with ourselves, so that we might, in turn, get real with our partners?
We each have our own personal space—our own little love-bubble. Are we able to let someone into that space and share it with them? Or do we self-sabotage and push the other person away before they have the chance to let us down?
The thing about love is that we all have issues. We all have triggers, and our inner child never really leaves us, no matter how old we get. But what does matter is whether we are able to accept ourselves wholly and completely as we are. We must make the choice to radically love ourselves for every aspect of our soul and psyche. It’s about embracing our flaws and oddities enough to let them out and see how they play with another person’s.
We can only allow someone to love us as deeply as we love ourselves.
Love is many things, but it’s never about accepting less than we deserve. And even more so, it’s never about settling. It’s not about logic or rationale, and it’s certainly not about making a choice out of convenience.
Love is the crazy storm that happens when two people come together—two people who have faced (and continue to face) their own demons. It’s the comfort of knowing that we aren’t looking for another person to fill us, because we have already done that for ourselves. Love is communication and choosing to love someone, even through their darkest days, because we know they will do the same for us.
Perhaps some lessons can be learned without going through such a grueling process—but with love, we only gain knowledge by diving in deeply, getting messy, and not being afraid of getting hurt.
And perhaps, most of all, by not being afraid to get everything we’ve ever wanted—including love.
“What does love feel like? One day, you will meet someone who will see the universe that was knitted into your bones, and the embers of galaxies glow to life in your eyes. And you will finally know what love is supposed to feel like.” ~ Nikita Gill
Author: Kate Rose
Image: Flickr/Christian Lauer
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina