A few years ago I had my heart broken—big time.
In that all-consuming thing called a relationship, I'd given over too much ground and too much heart-space. My identity began to web into things that had no roots. I had begun to embrace suffering like a partner and made a home there. I became estranged to myself.
And, we called this: love. We were wrong.
During this time, I met a stranger one day. He was an older, storm-worn kind of gentleman who rode motorcycles and talked about the times he almost died. He thought lightning was remarkable. This man came to my work one day and saw me. He told me not to wait.
I still remember his words: "Excuse me for saying this. You are very beautiful, but you have the saddest eyes. You know, you don't have to wait. You don't have to wait for someone to love yourself."
Even as I teared up, I knew he was right. I knew that I was relying on external metrics of love and acceptance. I knew that I did not feel myself as lovable. I knew that I was martyring myself in the hopes that someone would tell me I could stop. This is a torturous way to live.
The Heart Has a Voice
Yet, I also remembered that my heart had things to say. I'd put her in an ivory tower long ago and stopped listening. My chest was locked. And now, her lullabies were hard to hear.
So, I started practicing: breathe in love, breathe out love. Listen. Repeat.
I did this daily—on the mat, in the car, at the clinic as I watched beautiful women pour their hurt into their bodies. I committed to practice whole-hearted love. And, for a long time, my practice kinda sucked. I did not know how to practice this kind of whole-hearted love.
Love like this felt uncomfortable—how could I be acceptable when I'd told myself for so long I "needed to work on my stuff?" How could I trust that I already was full of love? I had to learn to acknowledge the wholeness of my heart.
Whole-hearted love is different. Whole-hearted love is the kind of love that says 'I'm listening,' instead of 'let me make my point.' It is the kind of love that doesn't seek to be special but prefers to shower light out; it is the kind of love that yields to kindness. This is whole-hearted love. This is the love that matters.
I've come to realize that practicing whole-hearted love is a life's work. And, you must include yourself in the practice. Breathe in love, breathe out love. Listen. Repeat.
Why We Shouldn't Wait
It's been a few years now since my sad eyes were acknowledged.
My eyes are still sad sometimes, but my heart beats closer to the skin. And, one day, I found myself falling in love. I connected with a wonderful whole-hearted man who had stopped waiting, too. I know this because my beloved told me this: "love speaks softly." He had learned to listen.
In this relationship, we connect whole-heartedly. Even amidst the everyday toil of life, we find space to listen. Like lighthouses, our sad eyes shine for each other. He treats my resistance with kindness and my body with respect.
And, we hear each other. We hear our hearts. By not waiting for love, I somehow found love.
And, that's the practice—allow for your heart to show up. Breathe in love. Breathe out love. Listen. Repeat. Be loving. Be loved.
Repeat until you are love.