Life is full these days. I’m working four different fledgling careers (if you count this one, which hasn’t been getting much sunlight lately), disentangling my financial/legal/emotional life from Ben’s, learning the ropes of single motherhood and, oh my lord, starting to date. First kiss after a fifteen-year relationship? I could write a book.
But mostly what I’ve been doing is thinking about the nature of love. Nothing like a break-up to make you look at yourself, how you give love, how you accept it, what’s working and more pointedly, what’s not.
And here’s what I’m finding when I look back on my forty-three years of offering and receiving love: my default, most basic, deepest truth is that I feel unlovable. Terrible but true. Hard to take in love from that place. Easy to extend too far in the other direction, giving everything to try to achieve what seems impossible. Will you love me if?
And, yes, I know this belief is false. In my brain, my fine, functional brain, I know I’m as lovable as anyone. I’m a good person, there’s no doubt. In my best moments, I can be selfless, I can certainly be fun, I’m bright, I’m kind, I’m very much myself. There’s a lot to love. I know that.
But my heart, my heart needs convincing. And I have no idea how to do that. Somebody else’s love? That’s probably not going to do the trick. Not until I’ve somehow healed this battle-scarred heart – it’s not broken, I won’t say that, because I have great hope that I can fix it.
And so every time lately I find myself back on my couch, staring out the window, certain that my heart will never fill, never be filled, at least not completely, I grab my phone and send a text – a group text to my two oldest friends, my sisters, in spirit if not in blood.
I write: “I’ll find love, right? I am lovable, right?’
And they, however entrenched they are in their own full and complicated lives, however many times they’ve answered these very same questions, will say, “Yes. You will. You are. You don’t have to believe it right now, we’ll believe it for you.”
So I’m going to let them carry that one. I’m going to keep stretching this old heart, I’m going to do my self-love calisthenics. Open and open and open. In the words of E.M. Forster: “Courage, Miss Honeychurch, courage and faith.”