Loving & Losing...
The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.
Hemingway seemed appropriate. One of my all time favorite authors...I love his prose and his eloquence, and his arrogance and his charm. Such a complicated man. One that love seemed to find and then abandon, repeatedly. Four wives and in the end he died alone.
Perhaps the above quote explains why. Losing yourself seems like a pretty high price to pay for love of any kind. And yet, I think everyone can relate to that being love’s price tag all too often.
I know I have been there. Lost in the love that I feel for the other so much that I neglect my own heart, body and mind. Feeling like my world and their world are so intimately intertwined that I lose sight of where I begin and end. It has happened more times than I would like to re-count. And I will also admit that sometimes love hasn’t even been the reason. Sometimes it is unhealed trauma, creating traumatic bonds that pass for love. Upon later reflection, the word love tainted by my association with its use in that iteration.
Romantic love in my life has been a very harrowing and disparate path. I have been all over the place. Literally. Mostly I have dragged myself and others back and forth across the two persons who seemed to inhabit my heart: the one who loves too much and the one not capable of love at all.
I didn’t really come to know love until my heart was broken. And because of trauma and addiction, I postponed that fate until my middle 40s. But the love decimation caused a dearth of love, an abandonment if you will of the entire concept. I couldn’t imagine life without him and yet my life continued on just fine really.
But the process of heartbreak and loss caused me to spend a great deal of time alone because being around others was just too painful. I needed the solace of the wilderness and spent countless hours hiking random trails, crying and feeling like love would always pass me by.
But something happened to me on those dusty trails of endless wandering. I fell in love with me. I found something for myself, within myself. And I have found that to be inalterable. I love me, just as I am...but find myself always willing to improve upon that relationship because it really is the foundation of any and all love that I can give another.
Loving used to mean a wholesale leaving of myself. A complete abandonment of me, this seemed required to love another. Today, I know that I am special too. I know that the first and most important relationship will always be me with me, and of course this Higher Power that I do not understand, I just know and feel the love. Like a mother for a child. I love myself in the same manner. The brutality of my former relationship with myself, left to founder and die. A new relationship was somehow born on those meandering trails that led me to God and then back to myself.
Loving is easy. It happens with no effort at all. Loving really is the by product of living for me now. I live, I love. The two are just part of daily life. And I think, well, I believe that this is because I have solved the above issue: I have learned that losing yourself in the process of loving someone else really is the most painful thing. And it is not required. It really is a choice I make. And I have learned, with quite a bit of pain, that it is optional, all the pain. I can not lose myself in the process of loving...I can, instead, stay present and love with all that I am. The whole person, the whole me. And stay with myself and the other person and trust that if it is meant to be, it will all work out. The price of admission for love doesn’t have to be me. In fact, loving while leaving myself behind isn’t really love. I am not sure exactly what it is but I have become convinced that it isn’t love.
Love is something that flows freely unless we set up blockers. We do this by loving someone who isn’t capable of returning the love, or someone who is unwilling or stingy with their love, or sometimes, we curtail the flow of our own love because we fear the rejection we might face if we brought our whole selves to the relationship.
It has taken many years and a lot of soul searching but I have come to find that love is present at all times. I just have to be willing to tap in, to be present, to love and not fear that all that I bring will not be valued, appreciated or returned. Love isn’t about getting it back, love is really about giving of myself without the thought of return while loving myself first so that I do not attempt to give away things that I do not have to give.
To love rather than be loved...great instruction. Much harder to practice in my experience. But pain is the greatest teacher I have ever known. And that pain of losing yourself in your desperate attempts to love another, is a price that is way too high.
We are all special, and worthy and needy. We all need love. And we need to give it likely more than we need to receive it. But restricting love’s flow in any direction maims everyone. Curtailing love’s swift current, decimating whatever remains dammed off, be it your heart or theirs.
Today is the launch of my new website. ErinSchaden.com. It is a direct outgrowth of the love that took me so long to find for myself. Even a year ago, I didn’t have the ability to do this. I didn’t know how. It has been a long and arduous process but today’s launch has been a labor of love: for me, for you and for something that for a very long time escaped my notice.
Love of self isn’t selfish or grandiose. It is the stunning decision to love yourself enough to be brave enough to break your own heart, to tell yourself the truth when a lie would be so much more palatable. It is allowing yourself to stretch and grow beyond the limits you have previously known and to reach for that which feels unattainable. Love for you. Love for another. So much love stretching out in all directions, radiating like a brilliant sun and begins squarely in the middle of your own chest, and life.
It took me a long time to get here. And it requires daily work to maintain. I do not do it perfectly. But I do it and that has made all the difference. I am happy to share it. I would be honored to be of service. You know where to find me...
ErinSchaden.com. I would love to see you there!