I’ve Had a Rough Relationship with Love

Oh, who hasn’t had a rough relationship with love? (Not a surprising UU Lent word, is it?) If you haven’t, count yourself as fortunate and give yourself a big hug. Wait, everyone else, also give yourselves big hugs. And now for some brutal honesty.

My issue, like so many of us, has been with romantic love. I was always a big fan. And boy oh boy was I full of it. Those happy hormones it kept pumping into me were my drug of choice. I kept seeking it out, even when I had perfectly good relationships. This here was my biggest failing, because I repeatedly did really inappropriate things in my quest for my love drug.

No, I do not blame my parents for how I came out. They did their best.

And, what did that do to me? It made me love myself less. And that led to the feeling that I was worthless if nobody loved me, so I did more unhelpful things to try to get the people I loved to love me or continue to love me. I worked way too hard for my Dad’s love, which spilled out to romantic relationships.

That led me to like myself less and less. My inner monologue consisted of, “No one likes you…you have no friends…you are so fat…you are a failure…” I’m surprised I could get up every morning and go to work, take care of my kids, or volunteer constantly.

Do you see a downward spiral looming? I sure do, in retrospect. I ended up with the pathetic tendency to do just about anything to get love, romantic or otherwise. I was one of those people you read about who change themselves to try to be the person their object of affection wanted.

Note: That does not work.

It never occurred to me that it’s very hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves, and I certainly didn’t love myself. I needed to learn about other types of love than romantic love, obsession, and sex hormones.

I did it! Was it easy? Nope. I had to admit a lot of icky things about myself (see above) but thanks to a good therapist, I was able to figure out what led me to end up the way I was, and forgive my past self. I was able to see that all those past actions were leading me to current wisdom and peace.

Loving myself just as I am. Pink hair is all faded, too.

Learning to love myself has let me love others in so many ways without having to have all that hormonal stuff mess with my mind (I still have hormones; I just recognize them for what they are).

What I Can Do Now

I can love my family without expecting anything in return (thank goodness, since one of them seems to not love me back at the moment). And I can appreciate their love without basing my self esteem on it.

Shine on, Suna.

I can love my friends and be okay if they go away or have a problem with me. If they want to work it out, I’m there to do so. If not, I’ll love them from a distance.

I can love people I don’t know. For all I know, my loving vibes may be helping in some way I can’t be consciously aware of.

I can love all my animal companions and enjoy their love back.

I can love my planet.

Will I have bad moments? Will I get jealous or envious of someone else’s relationship, or hurt when things don’t work out? Yep. But I’ll pick myself back up and keep going.

Gratitude

I’m grateful to everyone I’ve ever loved and hope you got some good out of it. And I’m sorry for those I hurt.

My favorite picture of my spouse. Thank goodness for his love.

I’m grateful for my spouse, his patience, and his ability to love me as I am.

I’m grateful to Victoria.

I’m grateful to Brené Brown. Even if I generally find self-help books annoying, her conversational style and repetition of the same point in different ways helped me break through and shut my inner voice up. Go read a Brené Brown book.

“I know something about love.”

Wisdom: Did We Make a Wise Decision?

The salesperson we dealt with yesterday, the relentlessly flattering Kathy (she kept telling us how smart we were), convinced us to stay an extra day here in Myrtle Beach. So, we pushed our trip out a day. Hmm…that brings me to the UU Lent word of the day, wisdom.

There is no doubt in Lee’s nor my mind that this wasn’t a wise decision! An entire day with no agenda and no feeling rushed is a real blessing to us. After losing more than half of yesterday working out a deal to make traveling easier for Lee (he NEEDS to get out, but doesn’t like to fly), today feels good. And it’s given me a chance to think hard about what wisdom is and where it comes from.

I looked out the balcony this morning and saw a perfect depiction of the path to wisdom. It runs between my watery intuitive side and my my analytical side. I need them both.

I’m not being egotistical to declare that I am a lot wiser now, at age 62. Life’s journey has given me plenty of learning opportunities (or challenges), and while I may have not been as wise as I thought I was early in life, at least I was always open to learning and growing. Like in the picture above, I can never see where I’m going on this path, but there’s always something new coming up. Then at the end, I’ll disappear into the mist. (GEEZ that’s cheesy.)

What Do We Need to Gain Wisdom

Yep, this is what I look like in a mirror and it’s just fine, thanks.

Well, there’s lots, of course, but one thing that’s really helped me is accepting myself as I am, rather than trying to be who someone else wants me to be or comparing myself with others. I like that I can look in the mirror now and tell myself I am fine just the way I look, and that I am really great inside.

Learning to love myself and retraining my brain to send me positive messages was the hardest thing I ever did, and it’s rewarded me more than I can express. I sure see things more clearly when they aren’t obscured by self criticism and insecurity about myself. Go me!

Another characteristic that has brought me a lot of wisdom is curiosity. I’m not interested in staying in my comfort zone and not exploring new ideas, new places, or new activities (after a bit of Suna’s patented hesitation). I love to look around corners, explore nooks and crannies, and see what’s out there, just like the beautiful bird below. That’s helped me see things in new ways, which can’t help but bring on not just knowledge, but wisdom – which includes knowing what to do with what you learn.

“What’s over here?” asks the egret.
I found this picture on my phone, taken by Lee when he was supposed to be taking pictures for me. Made me laugh.

One thing that maybe people don’t think about leading to wisdom is humor. Humor requires looking at life in different ways, not just what’s readily apparent. That’s got to help you become wiser. I’ve found that the wisest people I know laugh a lot, too. Maybe that’s good for you in more ways than are apparent!

Being able to laugh at experiences rather than dwelling on how bad they are or what awful consequences there may be also leaves you more open to learning, even from the hard things that we all go through.

And finally, wisdom requires patience. You don’t get wise overnight (like I used to think when I was an all-knowing teen psychic wonder). It doesn’t just show up. Sometimes you have to experience things multiple times to learn from them (how about those repeated relationships with inappropriate men?). And sometimes you have to wait for life to unfold before you get to where you’ve internalized your knowledge and applied it to your life. It doesn’t help to know something, it’s got to get IN there, and that takes patience.

I’ll get to use this soon, away from dog toenails, of course.

Yep, I am finally almost done with this lap blanket. If only I’d brought the green yarn to finish the corners. This took both patience and perseverance!

What Have I Missed?

I’m sure some of you have in mind other aspects of life that lead to wisdom. Share them here or on Facebook, because I’m interested to know what you think. Wisdom also comes from learning from your peers!