My therapist Julie, who has been a couples therapist for decades, is full of wisdom when it comes to love. The first thing I learned from her was this: people are often believing a lie when they think it is time that helps them see their partner more clearly. Julie says the opposite is commonly true: “While others view being in love as a time-limited honeymoon, simply a consequence of hormones gone wild, I believe this beginning is actually the most accurate reflection we have of our true selves coming together. Instead of convincing ourselves that our bliss is a Shangri-la that we’ll never inhabit over time, I see it as a call from our depths to aspire to, to demand from ourselves and our lives, that, indeed, we will always be known—and know our beloveds—as the sublime miracles that we are.”
Remember when her laughter
was a disco ball/and everything
around her sparkled––
Remember when you could find
no flaws, just quirks you would have
worn on a charm bracelet.
I can look back at almost all of my relationships and recognize that many of the characteristics that charmed me at the very beginning later became traits I perceived as flaws. I have watched this happen with almost every couple I know. What we genuinely appreciate early on tends to infuriate us in the future. Of course, what infuriates us can be a good reason for leaving. There’s nothing wrong with saying goodbye and it is often the most loving and life-giving choice. But I’m genuinely curious about what is happening for us in the time between feeling gratitude for someone and feeling disdain. And what I’m most interested in is this: how much of our new disdain is actually us feeling disdain toward ourselves?
When we fall in love with someone, we also fall further in love with who we are. We see ourselves anew through another’s eyes and cherish that reflection. We can’t help but feel beautiful and interesting and sexy and hilarious and brilliant. We’re alive with being wondered about, thought about, dreamt about. And in that gushing loveliness, we begin to see beauty everywhere. We become a walking celebration, a poster child for awe. And nothing awes us more than the person who stirred that awe inside of us in the first place.
In ‘You Better Be Lightning’ I wrote, “What if the disco ball never stopped sparkling, something just closed your eyes? Your past maybe? The terror you carry inside? Your ideas of being not enough or too much.” Julie tells me that over time we bury each other in our own insecurities, until it isn’t even our partner we are looking at, but our past wounds.
This year I had a transformative experience around my cancer diagnosis. It was the first time in my life I had access to a deep and endless well of love for myself. I can attest that when feeling a self-love that potent, the love we have for others is multiplied by infinity. I recently wrote a poem for my partner about this time in our partnership. “Beating yourself up is never a fair fight. Those gloves fit no one right. And you always deserved a me who didn’t have to squint through bruised eyes to you clearly.” It is so lovely to see her clearly, but I had to see my own self clearly first to get there.
My therapist is a fantastic writer as well as thinker and feeler and I’ll be sharing some sentiments from her newsletter for Mental Health Awareness Month. And you can connect with her newsletter directly here.
Andrea Sublime Gibson 🖤
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