I have thought several times in the past few years that I would never "love again" but that is a lie perpetrated by society and my once sad inner self. And I ponder whether the question is will I be loved or will I choose to love?
Here is what I realized. I will love again. Actually, I do love again, each and every day. And I am loved, in the here and now, by many souls, which humbles and fills my heart.
Why do we think romantic love is the only love of value?
Because love in any form or fashion is magic. I have the love of my family. I have been blessed to dwell in the heart of a family who says "I love you" freely and often, as well as shows it, lives it, gives it. It is not just words, it is action. Whether it is helping with home improvement projects, loaning money in a desperate time, getting a wet washcloth when I am crying, hugging one another, cooking, baking, just sitting in silence holding a hand, all these things and more are love.
Then what about those joyous, goofy, furry greetings of love when I wake up, come home or just walk into a room? Yes, I am one of those people who have furbabies. But the bond between an animal and human is such a strong and mysterious bond. They have no words to use, they have no ulterior motives, no plans to get even or manipulate (well except for snacks). They don't mourn the past or dread the future, they are wholly present and dwell in the moment. And they live in love. I have often thought I need to be more like my dogs and cats.
AND not just dogs and cats, let's not forget horses! (The newest creatures to enter my life.)
I volunteer with therapy horses and I have had to learn to speak their love language. I now know, that leaning into me and sighing indicates trust. Licking me is bonding. Hovering their huge heads near me and blowing warm hay scented breath in my face and then sniffing me ever so gently fixes me in their memory.
Then there are, of course, friends. Again I am blessed to have a few long time, intimate friends who have known me most of my life, in all my various permutations and careers. No matter how long we go without communicating, when we do talk, it's as if no time has passed. We pick up right where we left off, updating each other on what has happened in the past week, month, year, decade...
There exists a safety and a freedom with these friends. There is no second guessing about where one stands with them. There is no subject off limits. We do truly love one another, now and forever.
There are moments when I feel my heart fill with inexplicable joy because of love I witness in the world. Whether it is the interaction between parents and children at a restaurant of a stranger helping another pick up spilled groceries, I see it as love in action. "Kindness is love with boots on" is a new favorite quote.
And can we speak about self love? That is not a vain, puffed up, arrogance covering insecurity, but instead a self respect and caring for ourselves. Learning to say "no" to every invitation or request without feeling guilty. Learning to set healthy boundaries. Self love is about not sacrificing ourselves to the point of harm. But instead honoring the divine within ourselves. Recognizing we are part of a larger whole. Learning that saying "yes" to ourselves is not only allowable but a way to be better and stronger.
So although I may not be in a romantic relationship, I am not without love. That realization has been a paradigm shift for me, for the hopeless romantic raised on Disney fairytales and in a culture where being a wife was the ideal. And often the only role many females wanted.
I have been musing on intimacy and authenticity. How sex and love are often misconstrued and confused. And abused. That, though, is a blog for another day!
As for me, I will cherish and honor the love present now in my life. Because for romantic love to enter, it's going to have to jump through some pretty high hoops.