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Love is like glitter.
It’s beautiful and magical but damn is it messy.
If you’ve ever been in love, you know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing like falling in love. Countless songs, stories, and poems have been written about it. The hardest of hearts have melted by it. When you’re in love you feel like nothing else matters. It’s the elixir of life and makes it all worthwhile.
But as you undoubtedly know, love also causes the fiercest of pains. It’s waged wars and can make people act crazy. Love can be ripped away from you at any point or be unrequited from the start. It’s confusing and complicated and well, messy.
So why go there?
Why embark on something when you know pain, suffering and anguish will likely be part of the journey?
Well, for one, it feels amazing and is hard to resist.
Try telling someone not to fall in love and they just fall even harder. Try warning them about the hardship of love and with stars in their eyes, they’ll say they don’t care. Once love has a hold on someone there’s very little to be done to stop its progress.
And since love often leads to sex (or vice versa), which sometimes leads to procreation, we seem biologically motivated as well.
This makes sense when we look at where love begins.
Parents are our first loves. As parents hold and gaze and coo at their baby, they set off a cascade of hormones that comfort, nurture, and excite the baby. As babies grow into children, the love and bonding parents exhibit shapes how that adult will experience and exhibit love.
If you’re wondering why love is so confounding or why your relationships never work out or why you can’t seem to find love or the right person to share it with, you need to look back into your past.
- How was love shown to you as a child?
- Was it unconditional or did you need to behave or perform a certain way to be loved?
- Was love abundant or difficult to receive from your parents and family?
- Did it come with a heavy dose of guilt?
- Was either parent co-dependent?
- Did you have to take care of siblings or parents rather than get your love needs met?
- Were you able to express the love you felt?
- Was love used in a shameful way?
- Were you neglected or abused by the people who should have been loving you?
- Did you feel genuinely loved, not just told you were loved?
This can be a lot to unpack.
Take some time to answer these questions as honestly as you can – no one will be judging you as you don’t need to share your answers with another living soul. Other questions may pop up for you too. Answer those.
Be kind to yourself in the process and say, throughout it all, “I love and accept myself.”
Once you understand how love was shaped and defined for you by your parents, family, and experiences you’ll better understand yourself and the ways you experience and express love.
Aside from how love makes you feel or whether or not its biologically built into your body, love, as complicated as it is, simply makes life more meaningful. When you do the work to reclaim love for yourself and untwist it from how it was formed by your past, you can experience its full majesty.
It may be a messy process but through it, you’ll experience the magic and beauty of discovering who you are and reclaiming the bits and sparkles of love you so deserve.
[SPECIAL NOTE FOR PARENTS: Take a look at the above questions from the point-of-view of being a parent. Are there ways you can help your child feel more unconditionally loved? Are there cycles and patterns you can break? What can you differently from what you may have experienced as a child?]
What have you learned from love? Share your greatest lesson in the comments!