Be The Love You Long For
A writer reflects on being single again and how she got herself through St Valentines day
Yesterday was St Valentine’s day and thank goodness it fell on a Sunday this year, which meant I could have chosen to have hidden out at home and not have to be in full view of all the lucky celebrating couples cooing over each other in candle lit restaurants. I choose to spend the first half of the day alone. Having just come out of the end of a twenty-three year long relationship the thought of St Valentines day was enough to trigger off yet another round of floods of tears.
Instead I started the day by getting up and five am and penning myself a love letter. I wrote a letter to myself including things I wish a lover had lovingly expressed to me that I now chose to say to myself and then moved onto penning all the things I could say, believe and cherish about myself. It didn’t matter if I didn’t fully believe everything I wrote down. I just had to get it down in ink on the page. I was determined not to leave the house until my love letter was complete. I wanted to mark St Valentines in a ceremonial way that honoured the new relationship I was reconnecting with – my relationship with what the author Robert Holden writes about in his wonderful book about love, Loveability, The ‘Unconditioned Self’. Robert Holden in his book describes the differences between the personality and the Unconditoned Self as, “Your personality is looking for love. Your Unconditioned self is love.”
Then before the rest of the world was fully up I showered, pulled on warm clothes and headed over to Richmond Park. Of all the green spaces that London is filled with I love Richmond Park for its wildness. A visit there always re-connects me to my own wild, true nature that is naturally who I am, a source of love and loving energy. That same nature I seem to have overlooked a great deal over the last few years, as I became this other person that wasn't really me and who was riddled with judgements of self and others.
The cold, harsh, crisp air that assaulted my face as I walked for an hour across the wilds of this untamed London park was as flinching as the stabs of pain I was feeling on the inside. The two walked with me hand in hand as the wild nature of the park to a certain extent soothed in places how I was feeling.
In a way for those of us now living the single life St Valentines day marks a return to love (sorry Marianne Williamson), an opportunity to rekindle your own love affair with your divine self. I do believe relationships are fantastic and I do hope one day again to love again but there is also beauty and wholeness to appreciate about learning what it means to really love self. Wasn’t it only last year in the brilliant film by director Menelik Shabaaz, Looking For Love (click here to watch a clip from the film) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0t0LWnd8NQ that I said the same thing on camera, "Before you can really love someone else, we have to really learn to love ourselves." Not even a year later I am given the opportunity to once again practice what I preach.
Not that there is anything wrong with that. I think this time learning to love myself again will be a real blessing to my life of the highest order. I think where ever I end up or whoever I am blessed to be in relationship with again (and whoever is blessed to be in relationship with me) and it will happen, I will be a conscious, more loving soul. But for now the attention and focus is about accepting and loving me. This is where my precious energy needs to be.
Over the course of the next twelve months I plan to be as present as I can during my newly minted single life. I plan to treat myself the way I would like to be treated. I plan to nourish my mind, body and soul as much as I can and to give myself adventures and treats. I plan to get to know myself in ways I have not done before. And most importantly I plan to do as much forgiving as I can so my heart can make room for a new and continued expressions of unlimited love. Here are some tips if you find yourself on a similar journey at this time of the year.
To stay grounded and connected to the feelings and emotions that may well have surfaced on St Valentines keep medicating yourself with self applied big, juicy bear hugs. No one has to see engaged in your hugging fest. These are self-prescribed bear hugs where you hold yourself tenderly like you would want a lover or soul mate to hold or squeeze you. And if you are around other people this week that you trust and feel safe with ask for as many big juicy bear hugs as you can throughout the week. Hugs are restorative. They improve your immune system and raise levels of serotonin. So see how many you can receive in the course of the next week and notice how they make you feel?
If you feel ready for someone new in your life make a list of qualities you would love to attract in a future partner. Then apply the oxygen mask test. Check off how many of those qualities you actually possess and actively demonstrate or have cultivated in yourself. And for those missing qualities make it your business to harness those qualities in yourself first.
Love in the way I have defined it in my past may have flown the nest this time round but I haven't lost myself. Robert Holden suggests connecting to what he calls your own ‘secret beauty’. And perhaps this is what St Valentines is all about for those of us on our own whether this is by choice or not, to reclaim the love we lost - ourselves.
What ever you do, where ever you are, practice being tender, kind and loving to yourself in the smallest of ways, every day as much as you can. Be the love you so miss or deeply desire. I have found repeating this prayer by Macrina Wiederkehr shared by Robert Holden in his book Loveability to be really helpful especially when I find myself feeling overwhelmed with the intensity of my emotions and feelings, ‘Oh God, help me to remember the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.’
And finally these words attributed to the Buddha, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection,” help me stay connected and less afraid of becoming the love I long for.
Happy Valentine's dear lovely one!