This week’s reflection was slow to come to the surface. It’s been percolating just below it since Tuesday, when I was given some insight during a meditation into the ways in which I hold back from love. And then, as often is the case, the messages began to pop up all around, little placards on my board of life showing me how to continue to open just a little more to love’s complete embrace.
It has always been much easier for me to give love than to receive it, and I’ve been noticing lately where I’ve been holding back. It may be through a hug or a touch or through a subtle pulling away (even if just for a moment) when someone wants to get close. Regardless of how it presents itself, it’s me tensing to the love that another wishes to share with me.
I started to follow this thread for myself (I’m a big advocate of playing detective with ourselves) to see what could unfold for me. I saw a few patterns pop up and realized that I don’t want to be limited by those outdated reactions that may have had an important role to play in the past but that no longer serve me.
As I was deep in the process of mulling through all this, Meggan Watterson (for more of her goodness, click here) posted this lovely quote:
And I started to think…Why does a “broken heart” have to be a bad thing? Isn’t a broken heart one that has actually been cracked wide open? What if I could nurture my heart that is showing me where I’ve felt pain in the past back into feeling the love that preceded the pain? What if I could fully understand that just because I’ve had painful experiences doesn’t mean that I should miss out on the opportunity to know love in a new and more expansive way?
I have a tendency to give until I’m depleted, something that I’ve been working on for years now. I’ve made a lot of progress through awareness and good energy hygiene. But could I allow myself to be fully nourished by the love of others as well? What if I could open myself up like a flower to the sun and just allow myself to soak it in? This love that I’m taking in could help to recharge me and revitalize me. It could lift me up, which is one of the things that love most likes to do and one of the reasons that I adore sharing my love with others! This is not taking at the expense of another; when the emotion is pure and two-sided (or more-sided) there is no imbalance. Instead, it serves to elevate and elate.
In my musings, I realized that this is precisely where the thin line between detachment and pulling back becomes apparent: When I pull back, even a tiny bit, I deny myself and the other person desirous of sharing love with me of a full and complete experience of the beautiful intensity of unbounded and unchecked love. If I can give myself fully to the experience and yet remain detached from any expectations of what that person’s actions may or may not be in the future or what that love should look like, then I can find a space of enjoying the affection without fearing its removal. The truth of the matter is that if someone else chooses to withdraw love, however that is expressed – whether with integrity or not – it is no reflection of who I am. I am still me, standing here and strong, just like I have been for 45 years now.
I believe with all of my being that we came here to experience love embodied, both divine and physical in nature and everything in between. I want to connect through the heart space at every turn imaginable and ask, truly, “What would love do?”
I love that the ancient Greeks identified many words for love. The love I feel for the woman at the bank (agape) will not be the same as the love that I feel for my partner (eros) or that which I feel for my son (storge). With a deeper understanding of what love is and a desire to fall more into it and then stay there, I can explore the many facets of it and feel enriched by them rather than threatened. With this in mind, perhaps the most important form of love then is philautia, the love of self, for when that is intact then truly all of the rest falls into place.
So perhaps then I can come back to: Where am I withholding love from myself? Not receiving love from another is to withhold it from myself. Love wouldn’t hold back love because it is scared of love. Love embraces love and trusts that we can take care of ourselves and that we can trust and know ourselves in the process. Love would have us remember that through love, all is love, and that just by mere virtue of being here, as individual embodiments of the Divine, we are all worthy of love in all of its expressions.
Really doing love, making it a true action verb, means to fully engage on both sides of the giving and receiving scale. I’ll leave you then with one of my most favorite quotes ever from Jen Pastiloff: “When I get to the end of my life, and I ask one final, ‘What have I done?’, let the answer be: I have done love.”