Aside from my five-year relationship, I've been more or less single my entire life. Yes, "more or less" covers a whole lot of ground - from six month relationships to two years of yearning to the one with all the sex in all the ridiculous places. Oh, mid-twenties. I miss you. Now it's all, "Sure, the forest floor is nice. The bears aren't that close. But you know what's nicer? A BED." For all that it makes me cranky sometimes, my more-or-less perpetual singledom has been invaluable. It's helped me understand that everything that happens in my life is mine. My experience, my responsibility. When you're in a relationship with someone, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking "Well, if he didn't do this, then I wouldn't do that."
Dear Self: Unless he's chasing you with an axe and you're stealing a car to get away, THIS IS ALMOST NEVER TRUE.
So I've had to relax into the idea that it's all me. My feelings, my thoughts, my actions and reactions, my decision about the kind of love I want.
Here's That Secret, The One I'm Making Another Color Because Nothing Says You're Serious Like Jaunty Orange:
It's About Being Loving. Not Being Loved.
Honestly, this makes me a little crabby. Frankly, I'd prefer to be adored. Coddled. Doted upon. Maybe fanned with palm fronds.*
* Not really. Love and partnership and having someone to do found object puppetry with in the grocery store totally trump palm fronds. That said, I wouldn't mind having someone to crack my back on demand. There's only so much you can do with a chair, especially in public.
A lot of my...stuff (for lack of a better word) (hi, I'm a writer!) has come from wanting to feel loved. I mean, don't we all? We all want to be loved. We all want to be thought of as smart and successful and amazing and intensely adorable. But, in my experience, wanting to feel loved - and brilliant and hot and desired - just creates a sucking vacuum of need. A black hole of hubris.
Nobody wears Black Hole of Hubris well. Plus, it's exhausting when all the love just gets sucked in and is never seen again. Sorry, ex-boyfriends!
So, hey. Trying not to do that. Because I want people to like me.
See? This is hard.
But I want to follow my heart, not my ego. The ego is louder, but that doesn't mean I have to listen to it. For me, the best way to step back from the obsessive cycle of affirmation craving is to be loving. Not loved. Same word, different tense,* very different effect.
*Because I'm a word geek who just thought about tense, I spent a solid minute laughing about how I want Future Perfect, feel stuck in Imperfect, when I should really just be Present. Grammar jokes for overly-contemplative hippie girls with vaguely Buddhist leanings! Haaaaa. I'm going to be snorting about this all day. No, seriously, you guys. All day.
More Love, Less Bullshit
I want to create love, rather than sitting around and letting my rabid little ego hijack my space. If I want a hug, give a hug. If I want to be told in poetic language how awesome I am, go write an ode to someone else. If I want to feel love, tell someone I love them.
If I want my back cracked, too damn bad. No surprise amateur chiropracty allowed.
Whatever you want, do it for someone else. Be loving, not loved. Muttering this wildly under my breath is the best thing I do to create a perspective shift. It picks up the brain hamsters and gently places them elsewhere. It refocuses me on others, instead of the graspy want-want-want trap that I swan dive into sometimes. It feels better. It's simpler than my ego wants to make it. Love breeds more love.