Roses and chocolates and cards dripping with sugary declarations of affection. Starry-eyed dreams of someone to love and be loved by. Candle lit conversations, getting caught in the rain while drinking pina coladas and not being into health food, the sweet nothings of Valentine’s Day engraved on a candied heart; Will you be mine or I have a crush on you or You’re the one.
But then there are those less advertised candies that no one wants to talk about, let alone chew on, the ones that read Keeping you on a string because I’m afraid of commitment or You’re pretty hot but maybe there’s better or one that wreaks terror into the heart of heart lovers everywhere, the infamous You’ve been played. I mean players only ever play themselves in truth, which is the subject of another musing. We can’t be played if we aren’t gaming but that doesn’t change the fact that so many of us are scared of it.
And so many of us are trying to be brave and vulnerable, trying to do it better this time, trying to find our Last Best LOVE but weary and wary of painful experiences wrapped up in shiny packaging. So what do we do with that? How do we not end up sobbing into a carton of Ben and Jerry’s when the rest of the world flaunts their ‘happily ever after’ in our faces and dedicates and entire holiday to the flaunting with bubbly and extra icing on top?
In last week’s musing I talked about the infamous “Is it me?” that we ask when we are discouraged or running into the same bad batch of candies again and again. But there is a difference between the ‘it’s me’ that says I have something to do with this, I am the common denominator, I can help myself and make this experience feel better and gentler versus the ‘it’s me’ that says I am broken or flawed and there is something inherently unlovable about me. And it’s a CRITICAL difference, no pun intended.
We are tired of hearing that we have to love ourselves, because duh, of course feeling shit about oneself is not conducive to romantic bliss, but what does that even mean? We should be skipping around in fields of daffodils and taking bubble baths when our deepest truest self is positive and grateful, BUT ALSO positively lonely –and gratitude for our really cute doggo best friend is not going the distance.
Is there a way that we can actually allow for our feelings and not break into a chorus of Love Is for Everyone Else but Me, and I mean no offence but like my nail salon plays this terrible daytime show called 90 Day Fiancé and if those people can find love (we’re talking super confused women, and men whose browser history is ten different spellings of mail-order bride), if God love ‘em, they can find love, well…cue somber cello in A minor.
Here is my better way, Friend. What if (wait for it) we looked at the whole thing as growing a garden. I mean we don’t actually have to have green thumbs and be good at actual outside gardens just this metaphorical one. To grow something we are going to need fertile soil, some water and moisture, to get rid of weeds and aphids. That is the self love part. Neato. We nurture and care for ourselves and be sure that we are getting sunshine; we clear out old patterns and unhealthy emotional conditions; old hurt. Maybe some extra fertilizer when we have been robbed of what we needed to grow.
Once we have a flower or a tree, we can take care of it, water it, tend to it, keep up the weeding, give it the shade or sunlight it needs. That is called meeting the needs of the relationship. Spending time together, focused romantic time, nurturing passion, building each other up, supporting, sharing, being a companion and some other good stuff.
Those are things we CAN do. And they are important things.
The part we don’t have control over is whether that seed is going to take root. We try to choose seeds that will thrive in our garden; but for all of the nudging along they just might not grow. There is some chemistry and some magic to it all sprouting into life that we don’t get to unilaterally decide, dammit ,even if they are everything we think we ever wanted in a shrub.
That is a fact. It’s the hard part. And on behalf of all that is good and beautiful, I am sorry about that part. I wish I could promise you. I wish I could control it for you. I know I can make it so much better. I can help the odds move ever in your favour (okay not in creepy ironic Hunger Games way). But I can’t rig it, or make it be.
Where many of us get lost and what makes the whole thing soooo much more complicated and painful and confusing than it needs to be is that we let fear take root and we stop nurturing ourselves and our little seeds. We throw out too many because we are afraid they don’t have what it takes. We can’t control for that Life or Love Magic as it were, and that scares us and so we start limiting our seed pool. And then instead of nurturing each little seed as if it may become the sugar plum tree of our wild imaginings, we give it only last year’s fertilizer, we hold back on water and save it for a better seed, we throw some in the garbage before we ever plant them in the ground, just to be safe. Or we overcompensate and plant too many seeds too close together, hoping for better odds but then they are all fighting for light and space.
I am suggesting that instead we do a really brave thing.
Treat every opportunity for love with loving care and as an act of loving care toward ourselves.
There is a critical difference between growing a beautiful garden that feels good to wander around in, in accepting the part you can’t control with a promise to your love-loving self that you won’t give up on them and telling that sweet tender you that s/he they had better accept a sad fate then blocking all sunlight from the garden until the end of time in solidarity with Grim, Reaper, and their cousins Doom and Gloom.
So if you woke up this morning with a Love Hangover, after too many bon bons and candy coated wishes, dehydrated by disappointment, take heart (yes I went there). Take heart with me, we’re in this together and I am not giving up on you!
We’re better off to take sweet care of our hopes and dreams than we are to bury them. When we do so we write our own candy heart and it says;
I DESERVE LOVE AND I LOVE ME ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR IT.
And that, my funny Valentine, is the recipe for sugar plum magic.
P.S. 2021 I am bringing on the love. I’ll be featured in a podcast all about better loving, from healing your broken heart to intentional dating to creating a relationship that thrives, and I’ll be launching a sister site for all of you relationship and love enthusiasts, with all kinds of insights and offerings. Stay tuned!
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.