love is a given

What do you deserve?

Who is going to give it to you?

I grew up with those questions asked along materialistic lines. Lately, I’ve been asking myself those questions as they pertain to relationships.

Personally, I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in the form of relationships. The people who claim to care the most about me have, historically, been the most dangerous people in my life. At a certain point, something so traumatic happened to me that I chose to push the reset button on my life.

Since then, I have made dramatic changes and blossomed into a much happier version of myself. I have a lot to appreciate.

Many, many moons ago, I began asking myself what I deserved, because I felt so resentful. Resentment is often the result of not getting what feels one deserves. And, I was pretty justified in feeling resentment, but I didn’t want that feeling to define my existence.

Feeling a way that makes sense, given what you’ve been through, and choosing to not prioritize feeling that way, anymore, is a paradigm shift. And, paradigm shifts often feel painful and/or destabilizing. Because they are.

So many of us just become what we were programmed to be by the choices of others. If I look at what I was programmed to be, I see two, distinct potentials. I was programmed to be stereotypically successful in a capitalistic society. Meaning, I should be a highly paid professional right now. I had the grades and aptitude for it. But, I knew that wouldn’t make me happy. I was much more interested in justice and humanity than I was in power and control.

The other thing I was programmed to be is… broken. I was programmed to always put others first, no matter how much they abused me. I was programmed to feel ashamed of myself. I was programmed to follow the rules, even when they hurt me and others. I was programmed to accept much less while giving much more.

I was programmed for defeat.

So, how was I going to be successful and defeated? I wasn’t, unless I underwent a serious bout of narcissism. You have to develop a personality disorder to become successful materially while being broken emotionally.

Instead, I chose to live as human a life as possible. I didn’t know what I was doing, because I wasn’t raised around or by people who prioritized their humanity. But, I just kept moving in the direction that felt true for me.

I did a pretty decent job considering I didn’t know how to have healthy relationships. And, at the foundation of all human dignity is healthy relationship. Relationship with others, relationship with self, relationship with the natural world.

When I pushed the reset button on my life, I began to focus upon relationships. As a result, I gained a lot of clarity around how dysfunctional most of the people in my life were, how dysfunctional I was. Clearing up that dysfunction has been the primary focus of the past decade of my life.

I’m doing a pretty decent job considering there are so many dysfunctional people to choose from.

Since I’m highly analytical, I’ve been reading about and watching non-dysfunctional people. I’ve been studying how non-dysfunctional people make decisions and choose relationships. I’ve been understanding dysfunction in a new way. I’ve been accepting that it’s truly challenging to be non-dysfunctional in a dysfunctional society.

But, it’s definitely possible.

The more I grappled with dysfunction, the more I grappled with trauma. The more I grappled with trauma, the more I grappled with empathy. The more I grappled with empathy, the more I grappled with compassion. The more I grappled with compassion, the more I grappled with fear. The more I grappled with fear, the more I grappled with my understanding of love.

I realized that we, as a modern society, understand very little about love.

I have moved from focusing upon dysfunction and healing to focusing upon embodying love. What does that look like? When we say we love someone, what do we really mean?

I have found that the love of someone living from a traumatized mentality means very little, indeed. But the love of someone who embodies Self-love means just as little. That’s the paradox of love.

Love isn’t the thing. Love is the EVERYthing.

I think once we understand that, we start to realize that using love as an excuse to hold on when we need to let go is a lie. That’s not love. Love just is. Love has no parameters or expectations, it simply exists.

Because of that, love does not end.

Now, when I ask myself what I deserve, I think about love. “Is this the most loving version of this relationship?” If not, what do I want to do?

“Is this the most loving version of this moment?” If not, what do I want to do?

I have accepted that love doesn’t need to be given. It simply exists. So, when I ask myself what I deserve… it’s love. And, when I ask myself who is going to give it to me… it’s me. And, it’s life. And, no one needs to give it to me because it’s a given. What I’ve come to realize is that when I think I’m grappling with love, I’m really just grappling with the barriers to love.

And, sometimes, those barriers look like people. And, I choose not to grapple with people I love, anymore. If we cannot love without conflict or barriers, let us love outside of conflict and barriers.

I’ve accepted that that sometimes feels like a lack of love to the other person. But, truth is not reliant upon feelings. That’s part of the beauty of everything true.

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