I surprise myself. I have been paying less attention to what bothers me and more attention to what blesses me lately, and though I’ve known the value of gratitude for years now, it’s the negation of my own criticism that’s been making the big shifts in my life these past couple weeks.

This is not entirely to my own credit. I’ve had help disengaging the harshness of my mind in the form of oxytocin boots and other sweet nothings recently, but I’m taking advantage of the growth and learning all the same.

It’s hard to feel inadequate when you are desired. It’s hard to be unhappy when someone is considerately doting on you and investing in your happiness. Suddenly, though entirely obvious for forever, I’m just now realizing what people go so crazy about.

Romance has a subtle yet powerful way of making life more enjoyable.

No more thinking the wrong things

Enjoyment should be a fairly straightforward experience or expectation for a romantic entanglement right? So what the heck have I been focusing on my whole life if this simple acknowledgment of mutual expansion of pleasure is only now occuring to me?

I know my parents faught, a lot. I remember both waking up to their screaming and falling asleep to their screaming.

I know that I learned to feel guilty for being sexually desirable, for the potential lusting of men after my “female form,” far too young. Before I even knew what sex was I ashamed of my sexuality and gender.

I know I’ve had low self-esteem and no self-confidence for most of my life. I’ve seen my self-doubt surface as both anxiety that has kept me from pursing relationships and also reckless, self-depreciating behaviors.

I suppose it’s because of all of these things and probably more, but I believed love is hard. I believed romance hurts. I believed I needed to protect myself from romance, and I’ve succeeded as well as failed numerous times.

Even despite being married and loving others too hard throughout my life, I am just now realising what it means to let myself be loved. It is absolutely terrifying. It’s also absolutely enjoyable.

Starting with unfamiliar feelings

I don’t get jealous. I’ve made a point of that since my divorce and the preceding failed monogamy of my marriage. No one belongs to me – and so of course, I don’t belong to anyone either – and no one has the right to feel like they have authority over another individual’s autonomy, time or attention.

Simple. Until I feel jealous.

The last time I felt my sensibilities threatened this way I hardened and detached, ultimately contributing to the dissolution of that relationship. But… Was I right?

For the first time in a looong time, I am feeling resistance to my resistance to romance. I feel my tender, scarred heart beating a bit faster with hope – as if it’s willing to jump into the abyss just to see if it can fly…

It all comes back to the fear of being hurt, used and manipulated. It all comes back to being distrustful of something that’s so powerful it can make you “blind.” It comes back to thoughts of my mother’s enduring care for a man who treated her and her children like they were second class to himself. It comes back to my dangerous admiration for a husband who lied his way in and out of my life – and typically, all that is enough to send me hauling off in the opposite direction of potential romance.

In my history, love = pain, dissapointment and heartache. So why does it feel so different this time? Why do I feel curageous enough to be truly intimate and vulnerable now? What changed if my past experiences are all still the same as they’ve always been?

Me. I’ve changed.

Mindset development and rediscovery

I have been putting myself through hell. Intentionally.

I’ve been on a journey of authenticity for a couple years now, working with meditation, yoga and other healing modalities to address my energetic blocks and density. Last year I attended two international plant medicine retreats, diving even deeper into trauma work and starting to uncover my soul wounds, limiting beliefs and inner child resentments.

These past three months I have participated in an Integration Mastermind group, personal coaching and Stoic Philosophy courses, repeatedly reexamining my thoughts, feelings and perspectives, challenging myself to go within, truly heal and gain emotional resiliency – releasing attachment from everything that holds me back from engaging with my life as my most enlightened self. So you can imagine my suprise as I’ve begun feeling “attached.”

Yet, as I was just discussing with my new Beau, maybe that’s what we humans keep getting wrong – maybe love and attachment don’t have to go together at all? Maybe we can love each other, care for one another and enjoy one another, all without becoming attached… All without creating or managing expectations and subsequent dissapointments… All without the pain, manipulation and heartbreak that comes from distrust and other dillusions of attachment?

Maybe, love means releasing the other to be free from expectations – looking straight into their imperfections with an appreciative smile and delighting in their messiness – always holding the space necessary for their most authentic expressions, instead of attempting to control their actions through uncomfortable emotional contortions. Maybe love means more than the benefit of the doubt – maybe love is the blessing that persists beyond all doubt, and even further – beyond even all possible dissapointment

Enjoying my new discomfort

So, here I am writing this with the full knowledge that my Beau is having a young, cute friend over today – the same friend I got jealous of before – and I’m just feeling it. He invited me to hang out with them too but I have some things to do, so I declined – because I love him.

He’s shown me he loves me and I don’t need to attach to the idea that he can only spend time with and care about me in order to substantiate that… Loving him means appreciating him, recognizing his incredible character and therefore, even appreciating this girl for the appreciation she has of him as well.

It feels… Weird. Weirdly good. Good and freeing –

It makes me feel amazing actually. It makes me feel like my love is something that exists outside of my own limitations and shortcomings – it feels like grace.

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