Spring is in the air, right around the corner and the ladies in my life are dating! My friends, my clients and my support team: my assistant, my hair stylist, even the girl ringing me up at Trader Joe’s.
Yes, the “girl” comes out in us when we are initially meeting someone. We want to put our best foot forward, be natural and graceful. The girl in us wants to be asked to prom by the cute guy in Geometry. The girl in us wants the boy behind us in study hall to notice the way we swing our hair and bat our eyelashes.
We can’t help it, our bodies want love and approval. Our bodies, our primal lust and desire for attention Self reigns queen. We get a rush of hormones that further bathes our experience in a snake-eating-his-tail kind of feedback loop. We feel young, needy and exposed.
The woman in us has been through this before and knows the drill: keep your expectations level while staying upbeat and positive. We want to know our date’s relationship history, but not too much detail please, our tender hearts have rabid imaginations and we WILL remember the details: the look on your face as you talk about your ex, and the amount of times it gets worked into the conversation.
We are full of good intentions. We have been listening to the kitchen table wisdom. We have read the relationship books, gone to therapy and meditated. We have sat over the years with our sobbing girlfriends as they asked us, “Why me, why now?”
Deep pain. The fear of rejection. The hiding from love by closing ourselves off. By playing it safe. By dating only men who will not challenge us or meet us as equals. Or hiding out in a toxic relationship. It can be a noticeable mis-match or a “sleeper.” A “sleeper” is a relationship that almost meets our needs occasionally and we ignore our internal red flags that tell us to change the dynamic or end the relationship.
We hide from love by playing it safe or closing ourselves off to true vulnerable, expose-your-deepest corners connection.
Even in long-term relationships, we benefit from the practice of turning over the stones to reveal the dark underbellies full of crawly bugs and wiggling worm holes. To be fearless.
My youngest male cat hunts for worms and brings them in for me to examine and admire. I hesitate in praising him because it will reinforce his animal instinct to continue the behavior. Sometimes they are bloody and trail slimy paths on my kitchen floor. So I have curtailed my verbal praise. Of course, he became grander in his gestures, seeking my reaction: he brought very long, fat juicy worms, the size of small river snakes with the earth still clinging to them. On dark trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I have stepped on such gifts, sending curdling hoots through the quiet house. They wrath in confusion and exposure, attempting with both ends to crawl to safety. I gulp down my aversion and pick them up gingerly with a paper towel to release them back outside.
True love relationships are not for the squeamish!
To receive the immense benefits of love, we have to be love warriors and peace-makers. Turning over our stones and examining the worm holes of our “shit.” Our intricate patterns of relating, both the exalted times when we reach out in unconditional love and the dark times, when we overextend ourselves in order to “win” love or create a major emotional outburst as a ruse to hide our fear of rejection and self-doubt.
It takes “vulnerageousness” to witness ourselves in process, to see the relationship unfold in reality. To face our own insecurities and crevices. To come back to what works for you and what doesn’t. To let go of shame over “mistakes.”
Letting go of mistakes allows us to sit with the multiple layers of experience occurring between two people. To see oneself clearly and relax, knowing that all is as it should be. We are humans in process, opening up to receiving love for ourselves and others.
To love ourselves WITH the pain, the discrepancies, the darkness. To make peace with inevitable mishap, rejection and growth of our human experience.
Love is not fragile, our egos are.
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