Love. That insurmountable beast of burden that philosophers, poets, and polymaths have toiled to categorize. Too often, we are poised to search for it, rather than seeking to bring it into being.
I remember when I was in high school I was struggling, as many of us trudge through teenage angst and heartbreak to lay down the brick work of who we choose to become.
I made a choice one day, sitting in my home alone, to be the best person I could be. This meant showing love to whomever I could, whenever I could, in whatever way I could. Through this choice, I learned to see the good in people, all people, no matter what they had done or what had happened to them. I learned to see the beauty that existed everywhere.
By the same token, in the wake of young heartache, I realized that we cannot truly love anyone unless we learn to love ourselves. We have to reserve some kindness for ourselves, forgiveness for our transgressions, compassion for the mistakes we make and the regret that can drive us into madness. Our perfection lies in our imperfections; our beauty in our flaws.
These two guiding forces – love of the self or #SelfLove and love for the world or #WorldLove – sustained me through periods of darkness, uncertainty, and fear that, at times, I’m certain I could not have survived without. The ability to identify the magic and majesty blooming in each moment has lifted me up out of blinding despair. In the throngs of suicidality, it is the love I reserve for myself that has always been there to offer comfort and guide me towards my support systems.
For a long time, I thought these were enough. But there are kernels and cruxes that linger inside us that remain untouched, even by these powerful soul-quenchers.
I was missing the one thing I could not give myself – love from others or #OthersLove.
Perhaps it was always there, but I lacked a willingness, an opening through which I could accept such love. Disguised as a need to be humble, it was a fear. A fear of being seen. A fear of being vulnerable. A fear of being accepted for who I am.
#SelfLove and #WorldLove cannot hold a flame to the deep-seated darkness of “I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON AND NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME.” One could amass all the evidence necessary to prove that statement wrong, but it would mean nothing if one is unable to hold such praises in the realm of truth.
You see, those unquestionable beliefs can only be confronted when we allow #OthersLove in. Their logic is contingent on it. Undeniable, if only by subjective critique.
Our understanding of love is incomplete unless we commit ourselves to this Holy Trinity – #SelfLove, #WorldLove, and #OthersLove.
There is so much self-hatred in the world. People who are constantly hiding from one another. The awesome power of being loved and being seen; being embraced and being accepted; being cradled and being rocked are profound human needs. Our picture of love is incomplete unless we are prepared to love ourselves unconditionally, to love others unconditionally, and to be loved by others unconditionally. These offer respite in times of doubt. These offer assurance in times of dearth. Such love stares into the shameful, twisted parts of us and stands steadfast in its commitment to loving in spite of it. That profound human loneliness that each of us carries is where the seeds of love lie.
We must gather the strength to rummage through that Black Box of self-hatred, self-doubt, and self-deprecation, and construct another in which to keep all the things we tremble in fear of holding close.
Today’s life-challenge is to examine which of these you have not yet accepted: #SelfLove, #WorldLove or #OthersLove. Can you search within yourself for the will to befriend one of them? Can you let it, for one day, saturate your reality? Can you open up a space for you and the other to stand as equals? As one?
You are profoundly, radically loved. Whether or not you have learned how to see. You can. You will.
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