Love, Love, Love
You have to love,
And if you don’t get love right, you have to move on.
And then you have to remember that you’ve forgiven,
or else you can’t move on.
And if you don’t move on, You’ll surely end up …
-Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers
When I look at the “mistakes” I’ve made in my life, I realize the ones I regret the most are the ones I’ve made when I wasn’t listening to myself. Because when I don’t really listen to myself, I can’t take actions that inspire me. It’s impossible. I make choices I end up regretting, or I just don’t make a choice at all.
The real me reaches for something because it makes me sustainably happy. It matches a purpose in my soul. The other, not so genuine, me chases after something to look good—to satisfy the stories I’ve made up in my head about what having that thing in my life will give me. It doesn’t matter if it’s wanting to be a famous actress, or making a certain amount of money, or moving to a different neighborhood or even state. It’s always the same. I’m not listening to myself. Alarms are going off, and I’m pressing the mute button. I’m chasing after something more, something better, something different … and I can’t see the great things, the great people, already present in my life. I’m selling out myself.
I have a new friend. He’s funny, and charming, and cute, and honest, and completely unavailable romantically. And you know what? I’m fine with that. Cultivating a friendship with this person is reminding me what it was like to have real friendships with men, and I’m realizing how much I’ve missed that. For maybe the first time since high school, I’m seeing myself in a different light. I’m seeing the girl who is fun and sweet and happy and adventurous. I like that girl.
I’ve had about a month of illness coupled with days on end stuck in my apartment to self-reflect. I now get that while I have done what I thought was right for myself over the years, I haven’t really been getting loving myself right. I’ve been looking for that love—that acceptance—in other people rather than within. So when my friend tells me that I’m not honest about who I really am with him, he’s right. I’m worried he won’t like me if I show him my not so perfect side. The real me is flawed and stubborn and fun and passionate and yes, at times, kind of insane.
There are a handful of men that have unconditionally loved me in my life. Men I’ve been a complete asshole to, but have stuck with me just the same. One of them passed away and another just sent me a guitar. I don’t know why these people choose to stay with me, but my guess is it’s because I showed up as myself for them—not as the act of someone who is trying to be someone else, someone better.
Loving yourself begins with loving exactly who you are and exactly who you are not. This self-love ultimately leads to other people’s acceptance. I’ve never been anything but authentic to this handful of men. I’ve fought with them, and made them sleep in their cars when they’ve come to visit me in college, and made them wrong, and said terrible things to them I now wish I could take back. But I’ve also shown them the support and kindness and affection I’ve recently only been showing my girlfriends.
So today, in this moment, I’m choosing to forgive myself. I’m admitting I haven’t always gotten it right, and I’m moving on. At the same time, I want to honor the wonderfully caring people who have offered me their time and their devotion. These people have left me with amazing memories and helped me feel accepted and whole over the years. And while I know that having them in my life is a direct effect of me being supportive and loyal, I’m still wonderstruck at the kind of love it takes to give a part of oneself away in order to help make another person’s life better.