Spring is finally set to arrive, and stay awhile, this week. For me, that means open-toed shoes, long walks in the park and a general euphoria that stirs every year in this time of ostentatious awakening. It also means love is in the air.
Yes, spring launches the busy wedding season for those of us in the industry, but I’m not thinking of my role as a wedding officiant when my thoughts drift to the sweet possibilities I sense blooming all around me. I’m not even thinking of my own relationship, which ripens to five years this month.
Lately, I’ve been in awe of a different kind of love: the brave and quiet and healing kind that begins with honoring the self. In my conversations and interactions with several friends in the last few weeks, it is this spark I’ve observed, that hum of something vital, asserting its break with the past.
They are all single, these dear friends of mine, and while they long to be in fulfilling relationships, they are not bemoaning their status or begrudging others the artful bliss of partnership.
They are tending their own lives and learning to be their own best company, which to me is a sure sign the romance they seek is already on its way.
I was struck by this awareness recently as I observed one of my friends reveling in every moment of the first gown fitting for a mutual friend who will get married this month. As four of us gathered at a dress mecca in New York City, my friend bubbled with excitement. She was so cheerful and helpful by the time we’d outfitted the bride-to-be with all the accessories to match her breathtaking organza-and-lace gown, we were teasing her about getting a job at the store. There was never a moment when her presence felt like an obligation, a grin-and-bear-it duty reminding her of what could have been a lonely place in the line of the engaged, married or otherwise coupled.
As we debated earrings and chokers, headpieces and shoes, she joked about buying her own dress right then and there, given how much fun she was having amid all the oohing and ahhing and careful decision-making. This was the same woman who had not that long ago confessed to a fear of being eternally alone. After a few challenging years, in which she’d suffered a significant loss, she’d succumbed to a slump that had been difficult to shake.
Yet later that weekend, she shared she was happy where she was, with her job, her friends, her life — herself. Something in her internal landscape had shifted, and with it, she exuded a new optimism I can’t help thinking will be part of what attracts the mate she desires.
After two years in a quasi-relationship, another friend recently announced she is ready to date herself. She’d experienced love, passion and a prolific creativity with the man she’d been spending all of her time with, but she finally saw, in his refusal to acknowledge the depth of their commitment, how she’d tacitly complied with her own sabotage. She’d settled for less than she deserved and knew it, and in saying yes to what she didn’t want had in essence shut the door on the true and equal partnership she really craved.
Walking away wasn’t easy, but it was a bold and necessary declaration of her worth. And though her heart is still bruised and delicate, there is a sense of better to come, of joys to be built on the lessons she’s learned. Instead of looking to a man to fill her up, she is busy determining the many ways she can get her needs for appreciation and connection met, starting with herself.
I am no expert on relationships, but I know plenty of women who claim to want one while unintentionally keeping themselves from the very thing they seek. Whether it is our own history, with our tales of how love has wounded and failed us, or our own internal judgments that keep us stuck in feelings of worthlessness, many of us walk with barriers to love. Wanting a relationship is one thing; being receptive to it is another.
Sooner or later, with enough courage and awareness, we come to tangle with the truth of our resistance — and hopefully emerge with more love, compassion and acceptance for ourselves. We’re then more likely to attract a mate with whom we can share freely of such gifts and receive them in return.
I think of another friend who this past winter met a man who was her complement in almost every way. With him, she found and savored much of the good — and ease — that had been missing in her previous relationship. The catch? He was moving to the Southwest. Yet she spent one glorious month being adored and appreciated — and then let him go, with no regrets. He’d been a lovely surprise from the universe who helped her to see she was ready, at last, for a healthy and drama-free match.
Love: It is always in the air. Celebrating its beauty when we see it can be a mighty force for engaging it in our own lives. But so, too, is the willingness to dig down deep, to plant and tend the seeds that will restore us to wholeness and then usher us to that union, a space of flourishing hope.
– Life in LaLa Land, published in The Intelligencer and Bucks County Courier Times