Relationships are very dynamic experiences that, by far, are one of the most important aspects of Life. We are always in relationship with someone or something at all times; including our Self. Some of the most profound interpersonal relationships that we experience are related to those who parent us (grandparents, biological parents, step parents, adopted, guardians, etc.), those whom we call family, those whom we have romantic interests, and those whom we view as allies.
When I was 15 years old, I read the Bible verses on the nature of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for those of you who are curious). In summary, it says that love is patient, kind, forgiving, selfless, always victorious, and is Eternal. For some reason, I felt a strong conviction in my heart and made a vow to myself that I would learn to love others just like it is written in those verses. I had already believed that love was a powerful force, and I was becoming more aware of the misuse of the word in every day society and media.
Little did I know, this vow seemed to be the precipice for increased difficulties in all of my relationships over many years. I had problems with my family, was isolated from my friends, changed jobs often, and faced painful romantic failures too.
From my point of view, I loved others unconditionally, but was only being let down in return. I wanted to blame everyone else, but I couldn’t. I forgave easily. I didn’t hold grudges. I let people walk in and out of my life as they pleased. I had the misconception that this is how I could show others love. While everyone else received such forgiveness, I secretly got angry with myself for being such a pushover.
It didn’t dawn on me that I was missing Self-Love until I went through a period of time where I was forced to live alone, with no television. I had a spacious home, but no furniture, and no bed. I was single and dateless. I ate my meals cross-legged on the floor, and I slept on an air mattress during the night. I spent most of my time reading religious books and spiritual texts, doing energy healings, and meditating. Life was very simple, but fulfilling.
During this time, I reflected on my understanding of love and relationships. I realized that I had fallen prey to associating love with pain and drama. All of my challenging relationships essentially showed me how much I needed to look within. I was only experiencing what I subconsciously believed. I discovered how important it was to know myself, express what I need, and to let go of relationships that were not healthy for me. I learned what it meant to take care of myself and love who I Am. I finally understood that it was okay to say no and to set limits with others. With this new knowledge, my desire to embody unconditional love did not change; however my understanding of what it looks like did.
These are my valuable lessons on love:
Loving someone means allowing the person to be exactly who he or she is, even if that person is not what you desire. It does not necessarily mean putting that person’s needs over yours, but respecting yourself, your needs, and compromising in a reasonable way. Loving someone is appreciating the experience that you share, while also letting go of expectations.
Loving someone stems from first knowing yourself, loving who you are, and allowing Life to flow as it may.
What lessons have you learned?