I have been contemplating recently the nature of true love. Not because it is February and it is the ‘love month,’ but because I am trying to figure out what I have done wrong and what I have done right. I am looking at the past three decades, and the people that I have loved, and wondering where it all intersects, and what was the point.
Like most of you, I thought that I would meet my soulmate, and just like that, everything would magically be perfect in my life. I would be skinny, and happy, and never have a care in the world. The only problem with this scenario was that I had already met my soulmate and he had left me. I wasn’t skinny, and I wasn’t happy, and my life was complete shit, but still, I had him and then he was gone.
So I entered my adulthood with unrealistic expectations about what a relationship was and what it would bring me. Consequently, I thought that every time I fell in love I would instantly be transformed into a better person. I thought that if only I could pretend to be what my lover saw in me, the vision of what he expected, I would magically become that. I looked at my life and myself with an unrealistic rose colored lens and was disappointed when the harsh reality of daylight broke through the rosy glow.
It always does, doesn’t it? Become daylight after the magic of a fairytale evening? I couldn’t handle the day to day of crushing reality. The day to day of problems that weren’t magically solved. Ironically for someone who worked an eighty hour workweek, I couldn’t handle the work it required to stay put in one place. I fell in and out of love so many times that I am pretty sure there is a syndrome named after me somewhere, or an altar dedicated to the train wreck I left in my wake.
I was a love junkie. I was in love with being in love. I was a talk show subject.
Somehow my forties showed up and I had three ex-husbands in my wake, two bad custody fights, and three children who were the product of incompatible unions. My standing response to horrified queries about my marital status or the fact that all of my children had different fathers was, “you can take the girl out of the trailer, but you can’t take the trailer out of the girl!”
My extremely well bred and genteel grandmother did not find that at all amusing.
So, why all the hopping from one bed to another?
I was always completely sure that I wasn’t enough. If I stayed around long enough the person that I ‘loved’ would discover that they were duped. Magnetic personality, charisma and great smile aside what did I really have to offer? I was just a really, really good salesman with really tasty Koolaid. That is, of course, a self perpetuating prophecy, because if you believe you aren’t enough, then you never will be.
I believe in another blog post I wrote about ‘anger’ and believing that if you were wronged you somehow got a free pass. Turns out that I was wrong about both, you don’t get a free pass just because you had it rough and you must actually do the work to know how to love yourself before you are capable of loving others.
Old love, new love, first love, true love, they all really boiled down to one commonality. Me. I was always in the equation and nothing was ever going to add up if I couldn’t learn how to love myself.
So you thought that at the end of this blog post I would wrap it up with a neat little bow and I would hand it to you with a pretty nimble, verbally clever, conclusion. Sadly, life isn’t like that. I’m still trying to figure all this out, while standing still in one place for a change.
I do know one thing. The people that I love have been loved fiercely. Sometimes badly, sometimes well, but with every ounce of sheer force of will that I have within me. My children, my exs, my friends, my lover, all of them have had to watch me go through the agonizing self actualization of the last few months. They have watched me struggle with how to be inside my own skin, how to live without the accolades and praise of my chosen profession of vegan chef, how to stop being busy and start being present, how to love loudly without drowning out sound.
How being me is good enough.