After getting out of a lackluster relationship, it’s common to question what love is. At times we are flooded with questions like: I loved this person so why didn’t it work? Did they ever really love me? If he loved me, why was he unfaithful? How could someone who says they love me, be so cruel? How could she leave me if she truly loved me? Is love really enough? Is that what love is?
What is love?
I’ve pondered all of those questions at some point in my life. And it wasn’t just intimate relationships that lead me to those perplexing conundrums—it was relationships with friends, lovers, and family.
Becoming a mother brought even more questions to mind for me. There is nothing so pure and unconditional as the love a mother feels for her child, and when that love is reciprocated it’s life-altering. The downside to that is a reflection on the love we received as a child—or lack thereof. Parents who never healed from their own painful childhoods are not always capable of gracing their child with kind, gentle, unconditional love every child deserves. It is a cycle that must be broken…
The painful and sometimes toxic relationships I have engaged in throughout my life moved me to embark upon a relentless journey to figure out this love thing. That journey began when I was 11 years old with a book on codependency. I was onto something decades ago.
It wasn’t until I came across a quote from Brené Brown that I gained the clarity I had been searching for my entire life.
My suggestion to anyone who is struggling with pain and grief from love-lost or love that hurts more than it heals is to write this quote down, print it out…or tattoo it to your forearm if need be. In my opinion, it is just that good!
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
There are so many parts of that quote that are worthy of breaking down and exploring, but the one that was most healing to me was we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. That really is where it all begins…
Self-love is not something that can be achieved overnight. Begin by practicing…and keep practicing until you believe it!