“I think I get why you’re attracted to me. I’m not sure why you like me.” This is what a guy said to me one time when we were just getting to know each other. I remember it clearly. We were in his kitchen. I felt sadness hit my heart in that moment, as the statement confirmed that he did not see what I saw in him, and it represented how so many of us forget that we are never defined by what happens here on this physical plane. I responded in not so many words with, “I’m not typically attracted to people I don’t like. They go hand in hand for me—like and attraction.”
And then I went on.
“I see so much of myself in you,” I said.
And it was true.
I was present to every “failed” relationship, every perceived shortfall, every heart break, every loss, and every ounce of abuse suffered that he was carrying with him. He didn’t need to tell me or say a word about any of it. I felt it, and I saw it, and as I sat there, I realized that I saw so much of me in the person sitting across from me.
I saw beyond the wall of protection—and quite a wall had been built—to the depths of his being. I felt a heart that’s first instinct was to be good. I saw a strength that had and could persevere. I saw tenacity, talent, creative instincts, and the ability to keep moving. I also saw the questions and the pain and the struggle to recall or believe that any of those qualities still stood true for him.
I saw so much of me in him.
I knew I loved this person and I knew I always would. Not because of anything he’d done or not done; not because he hung the moon for me or loved me.
I loved him because I loved him.
I loved him because his vulnerability in that moment presented me with the opportunity to dig deep within myself and maybe, for the first time in my life, truly love to love. And I knew I always would. There was nothing he could do that would take away or diminish my love for him. Because I loved him because I loved him.
I saw myself in him, and I saw him in me, and if I did not love him, then that must mean that I did not love myself. And that could not be.
Am I speaking of romantic love? Maybe, in this case. Do I love unconditionally my family and friends? Yes, I do. It’s love that I do believe can heal, and where there is love, there can be compassion, and compassion is what we need so much more of in our world today. We are so much more alike than many of us even come close to comprehending. We all have our stories that are similar and relatable, they just have different players and the culprit—be it abuse, neglect, homelessness—has a different name or face. I have to believe that if we began to truly understand that we are connected and so similar, that surely we would show more compassion, for how could you not when you are awake to the idea that your neighbor is you and you are your neighbor.
We carry around all of this baggage—this junk that looks like rage, hate, fear, and self-loathing—that weighs us down and takes us away from who we truly are; and the ego loves to hang out with our baggage and bring it up so it can keep us stuck, hold us back, and move us farther away from our truth. The “junk” is present in the events of Barcelona over the past week. It’s present in our leadership, in our organizations, on the macrocosm down to the microcosm—though it’s what’s going on at the microcosm level that often creates the macrocosm.
I feel the pain in the world today. I cry tears for humanity and the insanity that is occurring.
And over the past couple of days as thoughts about love and my life have occurred to me, I’ve wondered if I’ve been in some way foolish to go to the depths that I’m willing to go for love. I’ve even wondered if romantic love would exist for me in the future. Then, I remembered that the love I feel and have felt is real and I am willing to love because I love, even if I am not loved in return, or I do not hear the words repeated back to me.
And I am clear that true love might mean that circumstances require me to step away from those I’m in relationship with—to love from a distance, if you will—so I can remain in a space to love and continue to love in the way that is supportive and right for others, including myself. To love is to let go and accept someone for who they are and where they’re at. It does not mean you have to continue an unhealthy dance with them; it does mean, though, that you might be loving them to the fullest by unselfishly removing yourself from the situation.
I want to be free to Love, not afraid of it. I get co-dependency and those tendencies, and still, they cannot be reasons to avoid allowing myself to go to a place where many dare not go because allowing ourselves to feel might mean more pain in the future. Even if it doesn’t work out, it does not mean that love wasn’t there or that I can’t still love in the midst of leaving or breaking up from any type of relationship. It’s in those moments that it’s even more important to love, for that love will support forgiveness and keep the space open for a clearer path to move forward.
I have the thought that people often feel confused by the idea that one can love another and not be loved back, or love another even if they don’t seem loveable, and I ask, why not?
Love has no conditions.