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All the Silly Love Songs.

Asher asked this morning, "Mama, why are all songs about love?"

I said, "Well, Baby, that's one of the things that people think about A LOT."

In this new situation I find myself in, I've seen a lot of people looking for someone to heal them, to put them back together, to be their other half.

I've felt the urge in myself, too. The scripts and myths about love and companionship and devotion and The One and happy ever after are pretty strong.

Ken, my therapist, and I have had several versions of this conversation over the last two and a half years:

Me: "I have a longing for caretaking."
Me: "I have a longing for companionship."
Me: "I have a longing to be seen and known."
Me: "I have a longing for kindness, and tenderness, and forgiveness."

He'd say, "That's wonderful! I have wonderful news for you! Do you want to hear it?"
I'd say, "Sure. But I don't believe there is anyone who will ever do those things for me."
He'd say, "Well, I know of one."
I'd say, "Ha, Ha. I get it. But I PAY you."
He'd say, "You're not understanding. The person I meant is sitting right in front of me."

"Well, fuck," I'd say. "That's a cosmic disappointment."

And Ken would say, "But there's even more good news! (I was thinking, "why is he using the words MORE and GOOD? I don't think those words mean what he thinks they mean.")

"The good news is that the person I'm talking about is the only person in the universe that is absolutely guaranteed to never leave you. Because everyone and everything else will. The spectacular news is that you have caretaking, companionship, witness, and all the kindness and tenderness and forgiveness you'll ever need in yourself, if you allow it, forever. All the information you need is inside you, if you listen."

As my father-in-law said, "Don't seek the dharma anywhere but within yourself."

I didn't like it very much, to be honest. Almost three years in, with baby steps, I've started to see it as not only true but also freedom from grasping, and a sense of wholeness and sufficiency.

That forever empty place inside, the one we feel when we ache wordlessly, is an empty room with mirrored walls: you take this journey inside to find you're the only one there, and you is all you'll ever see. It's a shock when you get there, but once you get over feeling like you've been rooked, it's possible to see you've been given the only treasure that matters:

Yourself.

You can take care of you. You can know you. You can be your companion. You can give yourself kindness and tenderness and forgiveness.

Awakening to this reality for the first time meant that I had to take off my old persona, the one I'd used as camouflage, as shelter, as a uniform, like a suit of clothes that never fit. I had to let it all crumble, to fall away, and slowly, to stand naked as a newborn and start looking in that mirror and getting to know myself, really, for the first time.

Who is this woman? What does she like and need and want?

The further work was to let all those likes and needs and wants be OK, even when they were in conflict with the value system of the life I'd built. I had to let my body, and the whispering voice of that newborn guide my decisions. And man, oh man, was (is) that hard. Because the entire world will tell you not to listen, because there's so much external to you depending on maintaining the status quo: other people, plans, systems, values you may no longer share.

So with each moment, each thing, I have to check in with my inner self: Is this OK? If not, what am I going to do about it?

That's the wisdom of taking some time off, to caring solely for myself for this year, and perhaps more: I don't have to worry about fighting the external critic as I learn to identify and meet my own needs. I don't want to look for anyone outside to meet them, I want to find my voice and instinctively offer myself my own best care.

So now when I hear love songs on the radio, (I know it's cheesy) I let my intention settle on me, and I sing them to myself, softly, under my breath, and I say:

I Love You. I Love You. I Love You.

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