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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Maddox

"Love is the bridge between you and everything."

“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.” -M. Scott Peck

I perhaps will derail this conversation into an off topic ramble but in fact, this is my very thoughts on my journey to love myself, and to let in the kind of love we all want, to be loved honestly and completely.

Something oddly interesting to me, is how much of ourselves we put into others, how much weight we put into love and finding it. At a young age, we are taught as women to find a man to marry and take care of us, our..."Prince Charming", that is the one purpose. Love. Marriage. Family. We are made to believe that there is one soul mate out there for us. Don't get me wrong, I am completely on board with it. I am a sucker for romance. I've even witnessed countless soul mates, the perfect match, the true representation of real love. My grandparents to me, truly represented that. Knowing some of their hardships, and all that they endeavored together, to the end, that kind of love gives me hope. My parents divorced when I was barely able to walk, let alone old enough to know the difference between having 2 parents or being raised by 1. I was very lucky to have grandparents that helped my mom raise me, along with my extended family, but it is very confusing for a child to grow up without consistency. With an absentee parent. I had absolutely no idea what a healthy relationship looked like. So why would I know how to have one of those myself?

Years ago I had a boyfriend coldly tell me I had daddy issues. To me the coldness of that relationship and that statement was enough to stick with me. It ignited a fire in me to truly start understanding why I was attracting such soul sucking, emotionless people into my life. Why would someone who loved me, be so cruel? What I couldn't figure out is why being a nice, sensitive, caring person, was affording me these patterns. Attracting people who took me for granted, who didn't value me as a person, who broke me down, and made me feel small, flawed, broken. What I figured out is, that these patterns were subconsciously my own doing, and even though those relationships were not good fits for me, they served a purpose of teaching me about myself.

So that was my struggle, to discover what true love actually felt like. I can tell you that I know deep down what being loved feels like, because my family is large, and they have always filled my soul with the deepest love I could ever ask for. But I never really knew how to love myself because I was always fighting for some form of acceptance, from my father, from all the adults around me, I never really fit in anywhere. I never really truly felt understood or whole. As I got older, I struggled with confidence because I was meek and so I hid behind a wall trying to protect myself from the very thing I needed, to look at myself and know that I was enough. I needed not to find someone that fit into my puzzle, that completed me, that made me feel whole. Because love is not that, love is not finding a puzzle piece that perfectly fits, love is not seeking a person that fits our mold, or a "list" of what we think we need to feel whole, it is not finding someone that "puts up with you", or that is the easy option. Love is finding yourself. Digging deep into your heart and accepting yourself. For me, it is accepting that I am curious by nature, that I crave a deep intellectual connection with someone, I crave communication and compassion, that I am adventurous and often restless, that I don't have perfect skin and never will (still working on that), I overanalyze, I can be finicky and indecisive, I hate being told what to do, or how to be, I like to be in charge, I like to take care of others ( often to a fault), I like to try new things, I like the thrill of the unknown but also fear it too, I am afraid of monotony, and most importantly that I love so deeply that I often get lost in my own head.

So where does that leave us? We all want to be loved, so we feel less alone. But being one with our aloneness can be so powerful. Being loved starts with loving ourselves, even just a little bit, and maybe just maybe we find that someone who teaches us to love ourselves more, that allows us to feel seen, makes us feel safe in their arms. There is so much freedom in letting someone in, without giving all of ourself away. We can love without losing our freedom to be exactly who we are. Real love can not exist without our independence, communication, without honesty, compassion, openness, and vulnerability. Love shouldn't define us, but it also shouldn't shut us down. We should be proud of the love we have for ourselves, for others romantically and platonically. Shouting it off the rooftops proudly. It can also not exist without the acceptance that love is not this perfect cliche we paint it to be. We might meet someone fall in love and have a whirlwind romance that ends as quickly as it started, or maybe we slowly but surely build up an unexpected deep compassionate love that is "everlong" Love is all we need in the end. Share it. Pass it on. Give it away with no expectations. As one of my favorite quotes by Rumi says, "Love is the bridge between you and everything."

The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

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