What if you discovered something about yourself that was so hideous, villainous, outrageous and terrifying that it pained you to think about it? What if you woke up one day looked in the mirror and discovered you were the boogeyman, albeit wearing a nice crisp Kenneth Cole shirt with Levi straight legs? What then would you do as you left your humble abode to venture out into the world exposed for all to see? What if? Accept what has become? Push it aside as a non-truth? Or face it head on?
In a recent conversation about L-O-V-E (I shudder at the mere mention of the “L” word) I was the Peanut Gallery throwing small bombs of negativity. In true fashion to my pessimistic, sarcastic, and insensitive characteristics I had difficulty answering the simple statement.
L-O-V-E is _________.
Of course I could have wordsmith and found a very poetic description to fill in the blank. Or I could have quoted Biblical scriptures stating the prescribed definition – say it with me you scholars – I Corinthians 13:4. I might even make light of the moment and awkwardly provide a voice of humor sheepishly masking my real feelings. But the real challenge for me was I could not answer honestly. Maybe it’s just me or maybe some of you have gone through this. But how do you answer a question if you are unsure of the context? Better yet, is it possible that we don’t know what we don’t know?
And I may not know what love is. I don’t mean the love I have for my children, or my parents and siblings. Or the love I have for my friends. Or even the love I have for my cats. But what about love for a significant other?
In my marriage I often felt I was out of my league with love. My past relationships were brief compared to others. I never really engaged with another human being on such a deep level that I found myself shallow of thought. Yet, I felt encouraged and hopeful because I had seen an example of love through my own parents. I also believed in love as I was growing up. But something happened and my beliefs were shattered. I felt ill equipped to nurture my loved one as needed or to show compassion when required. I was headed for a bad turn and I didn’t see any way around it. And there it was – THUMP! I hit a wall of despair and my marriage and family crumbled. In the accident I was relieved of all sympathetic thought and any desire to show another human being love.
Therefore, I became incapable of holding onto one of the greatest gifts to mankind. Maybe I held onto the pain of a bad breakup time and again. Or the loss of my puppy as a child deterred me from loving again. I have felt there is nothing harder to overcome in life than the sadness caused by broken dreams. I have been depleted of emotion giving way to a shell of my former self in an effort to protect. In the long run I know this is an unhealthy place to be. Therefore, I recognize where I am and I move forward in correcting this trait.
I can love again.
If I focus on fixing ME the rest will follow. We all hear and many of us ascribe to the idea that we must be made whole. Making ourselves whole is a matter of discipline and introspection. It might be a painful process in the beginning but the results will be magnificent. Butterflies aren’t born beautiful they evolve. And so must I. Musicians George Benson and Whitney Houston (rest in peace) sang it best in the song The Greatest Love of All – “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
This sounds like a good starting point for me.