When I was little I knew love and knew I should give it. My mother told me a story about a little girl who lived near my great grandmother. She apparently never washed her hair and it was perfect healthy curls. The first reason I envied her. The second reason was how naturally loving came to her.
The story goes that there was an old couple who lived in the little girl’s neighborhood and when the old woman died, her widower was weeping in his backyard, and the little girl crept silently over and put her arms around him as he wept.
I was incredibly mad at this story. How dare this little girl set such a high bar when it came to being loving? I indignantly thought, ‘she must have just gotten lucky that he was there weeping and she heard it’ and ‘how the heck am I going to find an old man weeping in order to prove that I am also the “best” at loving?.’
What a twisted wish, to want to capitalize on someone else’s pain. Never mind that the thought of climbing into a strange old man’s lap was repulsive to me, I internalized that I would need to prove my loving nature in extreme ways in order to be lovable like that perfect girl with perfect hair.
Fast forward a decade and I’m spending my lunch raising money for a Tibetan refugee school in a highly public place, lapping up praise for my efforts. Just a few more years into the future and I am scheming how to save the planet using permaculture and my design degree to convince lots of people to donate to my non-profit. Keep going and you are looking at a trauma therapist who gets PAID to love others.
And yet. I am lonely. The idea that I have to demonstrate intense acts of kindness in order to be worthy of love has left me feeling unworthy of love, but I have finally realized: nothing MAKES me worthy of love. I am worthy of being loved full stop. Just because I EXIST.
Which means I can love in the pitifully small way that I do. I can love people from a distance, or up close, as I feel is appropriate and manageable. And with this permission I can finally LOVE others at all, and also MYSELF, despite my imperfect hair and unique but equally worthy kind of loving.
I can relax and let love happen all around and through me. I can stop judging others before accepting them. I can stop thinking about the likelihood of being able to impress others and focus on co-existing with them. I can stop trying to get something from others, because I already have what I really want – love.