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What's Love Got To Do With It?

We are hardwired for love. So why is it so hard to do?

For too many women, Love is just one more pitfall of our patriarchal programming. A social story as old as the hills, that tells us that in every imaginable way, we are not enough.

Our bodies are not thin enough, or they are too thin. We are not tall enough, or we’re too tall. We are not smart enough, or too smart for a man.

This programming tells us that we shouldn’t trust each other as women and we certainly shouldn’t trust our own wild woman instincts. But you know that these social stories are all lies.

You know that you are magnificent, wild, and wise.

You have fought hard for this knowledge and you certainly aren’t going to let it slip through your fingers all for something so silly and painful as love. Who needs it anyway?

In truth, you need love like you need water, air, food, and shelter. We are hardwired for love and connection.Sometimes the fight to climb out of the patriarchal pitfalls of not enoughness leads us to reject the unattainable malarkey that is the Hollywood Love Story. We don’t need that sh*t, we have ourselves to depend on. We can tough it out alone.

Unfortunately, this is yet another pitfall. The rugged individualism that severs men-folk from their vulnerability, is mistakenly picked up by women as they escape the traps set for them. In the patriarchal domination society of our culture, no one is free.

So why are intimate relationships so challenging?

If it is something we are hardwired for, shouldn’t it be easy?

What we find is that in the face of love, our shadow wounds rise, and if we aren’t highly skilled, we may mistake them for faults in the other person. Intimate relationship is truly the PhD of personal and spiritual development. And this brings us back to an important question, what exactly is Love?

In bell hook’s book, All About Love, she delineates the difference between cathexis and love. Cathexis is the investing of emotional attachment onto another person, and in our Hollywood love stories we certainly see this played out. The infatuation, off-kilter “falling in love” story is not actual love, but simply cathexis. A seemingly primary ingredient in classic co-dependent, dysfunctional, trauma-bonded relationships.

Love, defined as a verb rather than a noun, is “the will to nurture our own and another’s spiritual growth” (bell hooks, 2000, pg 6).

With this definition in mind, mindset is everything.

When we see our love relationships as part of our personal journey to awakening into a deeper level of self-understanding, then we can turn toward the challenges that love brings. We can pull back into ourselves and wonder, what is this conflict, this pain, this loneliness, or this disconnection showing me?

We can learn to trust ourselves through how we love.

When we initiate a new love relationship we create an intimacy baby in the space between ourselves and another. This intimacy baby is built cell by cell as we trade vulnerabilities and show up in trustworthy ways. Instead of “falling into” love, perhaps it would be better described as “building a love”, cell by cell, brick by brick. Part of learning to love skillfully is learning how to slowly unmask ourselves so that our insides (the vulnerable parts of us) can stay feeling safe and cared for. Not by the other person initially, but by us!

Unmasking is healthy for our sense of belonging,

A primary part of our freedom march, as strong women waking up to our own power, beauty, intelligence and creativity, is being able to fearlessly show up as our whole selves. We want to do this in the world at large, but we learn to do this in our intimate relationships with others. And beyond that we need to be able to truthfully see and hold our own experience internally.

This whole time that we have been talking about our love relationships with partners, what we have really been exploring is the underpinning of our ability to have an intimate relationship with ourselves, one that is true, compassionate, gentle, kind, and constant. We can not expect to be able to gauge another person’s trustworthiness, if we don’t know how to cultivate internal trust.

Often self-love and romantic love, go hand in hand, informing each other and growing their mutual ability to deepen.

How do we find our ability to love ourselves, when the social stories that fed our youthful minds were laced with the poison of self-loathing distrust?

We start by seeing our internal programming as something to free ourselves from, and we begin to reconfigure our habitual minds, rewrite our love stories.

All of this begins with the willingness to stop the busy spell of urgency that you live within and to pause to realize that your time here is short. Our whole lives are like the dance of a single leaf from branch to ground. If we want to honestly experience that dance we must wake up to the true urgency of curiosity and wonder.

Wonder takes time and silence.

If you are ready to enter into the wild world of your internal dream, to become a true lover of yourself and thus ready for loving another, let us fall into silence and allow our generative imaginations to flow.

Drink in silence like the finest nectar from the rarest flower and turn towards your own beloved heart. It is precious, wild, and true. And now, more than ever, it is needed.


**This blog entry was first published by Certain Age Magazine in 2021 and comes with an accompanying video meditation practice. Enjoy!


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