A letter on love

A letter on love

posted onFebruary 14, 2022

Whether you’re in a relationship, single, somewhere in-between (I’ve spent valentines day in all three categories) I believe the feeling of love is something to celebrate. Love doesn’t always feel good, it can feel deeply painful, confusing, can hit in ways you didn’t know possible, make you act in ways you didn’t know you would. It’s not simple, but what I know is true, it changes you. It opens you to feel deeper, empathise better, listen more. Love, passion, support – it makes the world a more compassionate place. Valentine’s day is marketed for couples (and consumerism, let’s be honest) but the concept of a day celebrating love is not exclusive to relationships or even friendships. A relationship and person may evoke a feeling within you, but that feeling is yours.

A friend of mine said to me a while ago that it bothered her referring to her boyfriend as her other half –  “I’m not a bloody half, I’m a whole”. Yes, my first reaction was to tell her to plaster that on a t-shirt… but I sat with it and thought, you know what, that’s powerful.

My journey with love, relationships, and sharing that publicly on social media has been an interesting one, nuanced and confusing. My first big love I shared very publicly, and when that chapter came to a close I shut the door on sharing that part of my world. Losing your first love is a right of passage, and a shared experience between so many. That’s where all the great books, poems, song lyrics stem from right? They truly hit differently when you’ve been through that process too. It’s Maya Angelou who said that  “Love is that condition in the healing spirit so profound that it allows us to forgive“. This transcends into a completely different place within me hearing it in this phase of my life.

I’ve never suppressed big emotions, or pushed them down; But during the closing of that chapter I did. I pushed down the chest-aching pains that come with this kind of loss, until one day the cork popped and it overflowed. The experience completely changed my perception of myself, and swiped me sideways. I felt huge swings of emotions – guilt and grief, with a side of more guilt for feeling guilty. I tried to ignore these feelings, but when the same themes started following me into my dreams I had no choice but to truly deal with it, to stop avoiding the pain and just sit with it. I tried not to go through all the wrong doings on my shoulders, or to figure out what it all meant. I just let myself sit with the feelings. It wasn’t fun, and for a time it didn’t make me feel better, but then it did.

I learnt several important lessons – but the one that feels most poignant to share today is this: On our own we often feel like we need someone else to make us whole. But equally in a relationship it’s easy to lose a part of yourself, to feel codependent to a point that you rely on that person to make you feel good, happy and at peace. I’ve definitely inadvertantly put this on another person’s shoulders before, and blamed them when I didn’t feel fulfilled. Over the years I’ve learnt that it’s really nobody’s job but you to make you happy and if you expect that of someone else you’ll always be left disappointed. 

So whatever your relationship status, and your relationship to relationships – love is separate. It’s a feeling you have from within, and whilst it’s a joy to share with others, you have to share it with yourself first. So celebrate it, feel it, give it. But don’t forget that your own love is what sustains you, and the love from another is what lifts you higher. 

Happy Valentines day.

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