The thing about getting disappointed and let down enough you become pretty self-sufficient. One of the best things my therapist Jeff in NJ taught me was that he had my ex, then my husband, look me in the eyes every morning and say this:
"I love you. I don't need you, but I want you, and today I choose to be with you. That may change tomorrow, but for today, I choose to be with you."
It tore him up to say that to me. It was freeing for me. It meant that he was recognizing that every day is a choice. It wasn't about need or desperation, it was about choosing to be present and choosing to engage with one another. It wasn't a given. I didn't have to be there.
I read an article about a month ago that said most of the time being in love is really about wanting to be needed by someone. Yet, I don't need anyone. Giving up everyone and everything for the sake of my sanity and my self-respect and self worth taught me that. I can survive anything. It means I'm not dependent and therefore am less likely to engage in codependent or desperate behavior. It's freeing and empowering.
However, most people don't live in the that state of mind. They need to be needed and not to be needed is painful. How do they fit in? How can they be valued?
What is love from this free space? For me, its truly seeing another person. It's wanting their happiness to be true to themselves even if it isn't what you want. Love is saying I care about someone and I'll be there for them, through the hard shit. It's not a game. It's about loyalty and truth. It's about treating someone the best you can. Building them up, being supportive, and helping them fulfill their dreams. It's about helping them see themselves when they are weak and down and blind.
Agape combined with Philia and Eros. Agape.
I have 4 or so friends that I've had in my life for over 15 to 20 years. What I love about them the most is we give each other the benefit of the doubt. If we don't understand each other, we ask for clarification. They know that I'm going to be upfront and truthful and I expect the same from them. I've walked away with a heart full of tough love, and they've respected me more for that when we came back together. It's a level of integrity that is so rare and precious. We can look into the abyss together and face the terrifying darkness together. We can laugh at our downfalls, and cheer at each others pinnacle moments. Those are the people that will be patient and reassuring when I ask the same doubt the 10th time, and they know I'll be the compassionate voice of reason when they are hurting in the dark.
Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of my mother's death. I trudged through, cried a lot, and got up this morning ready to face the day again. Despite all my misunderstandings with her, I know the work I'm going to do ahead will make her proud.