As much as I love the phrase, “I Killed Cupid in Self Defense,” I know that it’s not consistent with my beliefs. This year I will retire this series name as part of my annual review on Love, Festivals, St Valentine, Cupid and all things passionate. I’ll have to think of something more creative for next year.
I’ve done the thing where I google Love festivals this time of year. There are many. They span time and cultures and it’s quite interesting. I’ve read of Saints of Love and people whose sole purpose and intent was to spread love. I wasn’t inclined to do that this year. (…the reading, I mean. I am inclined to love.)
I’ve been a geek lately. Not only have I been looking up words incessantly because implied meanings and cultural assumptions are killing intelligent thought, but I’ve also been looking up the etymologies of words. I once wrote a post on Birthday Cake and it led me to researching the history of birthday cake, to which I found information on moon rituals. The same occurred with an article I’ve been writing. It’s on feminine energy and the next thing I knew I was reading articles on physics, esoteric, psychic and metaphysical energy to name a few. I do that. It’s how I understand the world.
For today’s writing, I vaguely researched, “The Origin of Love.” “The concept of Love.” “The meaning of love.” “The history of love.” It led to bullshit or some interesting articles exploring neuropsychology and psychophysiology. I know, “I’m special.” It’s what I do. You can’t just tell me something. I need to read the history of it. I want a firsthand account. I want to see the experiments. I want you to name names, locations and exactly who was there. It is how I choose to exist.
Then I stopped. There’s no point in researching the “origins of the concept of love.” It is as futile as trying to study, “The origin of the wind.” Although, you can study that. I won’t blame it on love being mysterious. I don’t believe love plays games or is coy. I believe love is transparent, open, honest and straightforward. I don’t believe its complicated, messy and hard to explain. You know what it is. Perhaps the limitations of language leave little room for us to explain it but Love is not a game and I don’t think its mysterious and dark. I just don’t think google, google scholar, Socrates or anyone else can really write the book on it.
ORIGINS OF MY CONCEPT OF LOVE.
This led me to wonder, when did I first know what “love” was? Or what was my first experience of “love”, one in which I can remember. I’m sure the first time I was held, love was exchanged, felt and a given but I don’t recall, right now at least, my first day on earth.
This is what I recall from my childhood.
- I was supported. There was something about knowing someone had my back.
- I was celebrated. Its not that I needed praise. Perhaps it was more about knowing someone saw me.
- I was permitted exploration. Love doesn’t bind, hold or constrain. It releases, it frees, it allows.
- I was respected. I was never told I was stupid, ugly or a horrible person. I was spoken to like a human being.
These are just a few things I recall from childhood. I think these things help in our understanding of love. Support. Celebration. Exploration i.e. Freedom. Respect i.e. Value. It didn’t matter whether the love was maternal, familial, romantic, platonic or self-induced, some of the ways I knew I was experiencing love was because those things were happening.
FULLY SEEN and FULLY LOVED
There is also this concept of being seen. The best way to explain this is a literal example in my life. I once had a meeting with a theater mentor when I was deeply battling depression and suicidal tendencies. I told him more about my story, my dark past and the “demons” I chose to play with. After telling him these many things, I began to walk out of his office. He simply said, “Sheena, now that I know more of you, there is more of you to love.”
I looked back at him, “Is that how that works? Hmm”
He smiled with grace.
I know this is an important part of LOVE. You have to see people and you have to be seen. You have to see yourself. This involves again, honesty, transparency, communication, openness, risk, vulnerability, trust and the releasing of pride, ego and many assumptions. To limit a person is to NOT love them. To box someone in and not allow for growth or to repress them is to NOT love them. To hide yourself from people because of fear, pain or whatever, is for you to put limitations on how they can love you.
You cannot be loved if you are not truly seen.
I believe this. I know this of myself.
This concept is challenging. Just as we are heroes, we are villains too. We have concepts of morality, appropriateness and sensibility that cause us to pause when we learn or see the true actions of many. I am sure that should I share my ENTIRE story with most people in the world, they would not be able to see me. Their sight would be clouded with filters and I would be reduced and limited, thus not loved. Or perhaps that’s a limited perspective on my part. I base that assumption on experience and what I see every day. We share our opinions and because its not what someone wants to hear, we are attacked and degraded. That is not love.
So I value the honest to god true love of the people in my life. I have one friend that knows my entire story. I tell her my inner monologue. She knows of all my sordid affairs, the details of my darkness and pretty much everything that I think. There is no part of myself that is hidden from her. There is none. I’ve taken a flashlight to every part of myself and I stood in front of her and even still she loved/loves me. We’re not capable of doing that to everyone. I am not. I can’t love everyone. I’m not willing. Perhaps it’s a given of life. I want to say, well, so long as we all have at least one person that loves us.
But there’s a part of me that rejects that concept too. No, I don’t reject it. I just know love, while unchanging, manifest in many ways. Your father’s love for you. The raw authentic love of someone who fully sees you. There are so many expressions of love.
And what I have found to be one of my favorite expressions of love is SELF LOVE. You have got to love yourself. It can be challenging with our many filters and expectations. But with patience, grace, practice and truth, it is important to love yourself. But in loving yourself, it means, to me, that you can’t lie. You can’t fake it. You have to address the murky, dark bits of yourself. You have to be active. You can’t be stagnant, complacent and abusive of yourself. Because I think, once you love yourself, fully and completely, it allows for you to thrive.
I know. I know! Horrible things have happened to you. You are battling horrible self images. Your daddy left. Your mom never hugged you. You were bullied. Someone fired you. Your husband cheated on you. They raised the prices of milk. You still aren’t a size 8. You’re in debt. Politics suck. You still can’t paint worth a lick. Someone stole your idea. Your friend spread a rumor. You are being medicated. WHOA is you and WHOA is me!
You can choose…yes, its entirely your choice, to choose that perspective and to beat the shit out of yourself and hate the world. Go ahead, sweethearts. Let that be your story, if you want.
But you can also choose, to see yourself with compassion and grace. You can choose to see your darkness and decide to shine a light on it. You can choose authenticity. You can choose Love. You can love yourself, if you want.
I used to struggle immensely with this. I was self destructive, depressed and suicidal for many years. I sabotaged so many beautiful things. I repressed my heart’s desire. I drowned my miseries in alcohol. I chose darkness for such a long time.
But then, I chose LOVE.
LOVE makes a difference. I don’t take it lightly. I hold it in high regard and therefore when I chose to HONESTLY love myself, it changed everything.
Before you beat the shit out of yourself for yet another mistake, mishap or past hurt, consider looking in the mirror and simply saying, “I am full of love.”
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