It’s 11pm on Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been pondering as the day wraps up. I value human connection and human interactions so much, and being deprived of that for almost a year has been unbearable. There are too many people I’d give anything to be with at this very moment; to hug, hold, and adventure with. And to not be actively exploring these yearnings hurts, which I suppose is a result of this collective trauma reaching its almost one year anniversary. However, I will say that seeing so many people share their stories and journeys about love today felt surprisingly well-needed; especially considering what a painful year it’s been. As complex as my feelings have been towards this holiday, I’m feeling a sense of gratitude to have witnessed people having something to feel good about.
Something that led me to writing this piece in the first place was when I began to feel better today after not feeling so hot. I let myself feel and eventually, I was able to get up, carry on with my day, and take the day in a way that felt right to me. Giving myself that much-needed time and attention was a beautiful thing, and I want to continue making this a habit that stretches beyond falling on only holidays or special occassions. I’ve come a long way, longer than I give myself credit for, in the journey of healing. And I was reminded of that progress today when I was able to take those drearier feelings and take the necessary actions into feeling better. In those moments, I was able to find the essence of love; love for myself, and the love that comes with pain. To love deeply is to feel deeply. To feel deeply is to be deeply, truly human. To be deeply human is a gift; there is nothing wrong with that, and everything right about that.
As a hopeless romantic, I always held onto the “honeymoon phases” that seemed to be a huge element of love. Growing up, I was desperate to hold onto the people I had in my life; because in my fairytales, none of those people were left behind. It was always ride or die. I thought that any alternative would mean failure, and sometimes I wouldn’t even consider an alternative at all. I will admit that the pain resulting from losing people made me a cynic for some time. Sometimes, it would be far easier to sneer or scoff at movies and the idea of love being unrealistic, than it would be to explore those deeper, unresolved emotions that were causing those feelings to resurface. It’s much easier to put up a front of the “strong, independent woman who doesn’t need anyone”, than it is to admit “I’m strong, independent, and also crave the company of others to share this life with.” Loss and grief are hard roads to bounce back from. I don’t think anyone ever comes into life initially expecting others not to stick around, but maybe that’s just me – after all, we’re all experiencing this life at our own pace. Honestly, I think big factors in developing a newfound, deeper appreciation for life, are the hardships we endure, and the decisions we choose to make moving forward. We may not have control over what happens to us, but we will always have control over the choices we make moving forward.
Someone once gave me advice that stuck. The deeper you hurt and grieve, the deeper you love. Meaning, feeling pain very deeply can be an indication of a person who has a very big heart, with a lot of love to give. Now, I’m no licensed therapist or health professional; I’m writing about my life experiences in the hopes of normalizing these discussions and having others listen, and perhaps relate.
Before I learned what I know now, I would be terrified of showing others the sides that were less glamorous, less bubbly, less happy. There have been many instances where I’ve struggled with opening up and letting others in. I always saw my role as the person who would make everyone around her happy, at all times, no matter what. I convinced myself anything otherwise was a burden. I imagine some of you dear readers can relate to what I’m talking about. Quite the exhausting road, right? There have been so many occasions where I’ve retreated back to being alone because I’m convincing myself that it’s safer here and it’s easier, because I won’t risk losing myself or someone else. It’s been really hard to make peace with the idea of losing someone else. To be honest, I haven’t quite made peace with this idea yet. But let me tell you what I have made peace with; letting go of relationships that are no longer serving you, that have served their purpose, and thanking them for the lessons they provided. And, understanding that we are unconditionally, absolutely, worthy of love; in any capacity, and in any definition we choose to make of the word.
As hard as it is, as hard as it may seem, the truth is we humans are constantly evolving. Some people might not be with you for that entire journey. But that doesn’t mean those experiences were wrong just because they weren’t permanent. I tell people all the time that I never see any experience as wasted; especially if they helped you grow and left an impact in some capacity. I care so deeply for people, so it’s a strange, bumpy journey for me to embark on. But I’m learning what it means to be with people who truly love you. I’m learning how that feels. I’m observing who I feel like my absolute best around. I’m learning to trust my gut and my instincts (because lord knows I’ve ignored her time and time again, so it’s definitely time to change that narrative.) Once I trust myself, life seems to unfold in the way it was meant to unfold. Once I trust myself, my expectations grow, and I value quality over quantity far more.
And I’m learning to let that hurt in as opposed to fighting it. It’s the harder path of course, and a very sucky, messy process. I’ve tried to fight it before and shove it down. But that’s even worse. Your mind and body know what it needs, and when it needs to feel, it’s telling you that this is a necessary step in order to heal properly. As tempting as it is (and it’s so, so, so tempting) to shut your eyes and ignore every ounce of sadness and bad feeling, you’re only hurting yourself more at the end of the day by ignoring yourself.
When LA was colder than I imagined and gave me a different feeling than what I was expecting, I panicked. When my expectations of love became swayed, I panicked. But as I’m writing this now, I’ve learned an abundance of lessons from the people and experiences that have changed my life forever. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And I wouldn’t change the person I am today for anything.
Consider how the complexities of love have shaped and impacted your life; write them out, even. We often look at pain and grief and loss as huge flaws and fears in humanity. I can’t deny that they still do scare me to this day; after all, no one is superhuman, and no one should be. However, they also carry lessons and knowledge that can result in newfound strength and love towards the self. Think about that.
So here’s to the messiness, the mishaps, and the miracles, my friend. I’m right there with you.