I was hoping to start this little post with a thought provoking anecdote about love and what it means to me, but I could not. I tried everything, from personal experiences to the unconditional love of parents. I couldn’t find anything in any of the millions of boxes in my head.
When I sat down to evaluate love, I was overwhelmed knowing how much of it I have in my life. From doting parents, a loving wife, supportive sister, inspiring best friend, supportive friends and family; to watching stars in the midnight sky, waves crash against the beach, catching a sunset with strangers, starting a conversation with a random traveler, I found that my love came in so many ways and forms.
I then evaluated what I love and who I love, and found myself lost trying to find an answer.
Despite having a huge loving family, network of friends, social media followers I kept getting that ‘nobody loves me,’ feeling. As recent as last week. It flowed through me, like a ball of molten lava, it flowed from my chest to my guts, day in, day out, twisting every single muscle in my stomach from anxiety. While I constantly tried convincing myself that my life was otherwise.
I was already seeking professional help but I felt like that process was too slow. Like an addict without a fix, I needed a solution that dispelled the unloving feel instantly. I had two options: self help or prescription drugs. I opted for the former, beginning with an off-grid experience for 5-days – no phones, no emails, no computer. A little clarity came, but not enough.
I took another beach break, this time with my entire family. Constantly being around loved ones did have a huge impact on my mood, and for a change, it felt good to laugh genuinely.
I recently got back from another beach break, during which the logical part of me finally subdued the emotional part of me and the brain decided to propose evaluating why nobody would love me. Ergo, I had to evaluate if I could love me. When posed the question, ‘Would you date the opposite sex you?’ I would generally respond with an enthusiastic affirmative, without hesitation. However, when I thought further, I realized that there’s so much about me that I do not like making me not suitable to me.
When the realization of how much I hate ‘me’ hit me, I was mid conversation with a couple of people. I couldn’t talk coherently, I could barely follow the conversation going on. My contribution to the conversation when asked of me was like a volley of machine gun fire, I was tripping over my own words. My brain was firing on all cylinders, but that of an overused engine, the heat building up in my head. My eyes darting left and right like the vanes of a pressure gauge, unable to focus on a conversation or person.
The realizations that were dawning on me felt like a meteor shower on my head, hot and painful. We were meant to hit the ocean so I convinced my friends to get up and made a dash for it. Even a simple walk from the hotel to the ocean was taxing, I was confused, shuffling back and forth. I kept coming back to drop individual items, first my t-shirt, then watch, then phone and so on, finally making it to the ocean. I was a mess and I was getting paranoid of how I might appear to people around me. My speech was jittery and as if my teeth were clenched and I kept making random conversation just to keep people distracted.
After a little while in the ocean, I calmed down a little and started making sense of things. A little while later, it started drizzling and in that moment, I felt that the burning comets of realization were giving way to soothing raindrops. It felt to me like what love feels. And in that moment, I found the one.
And it wasn’t my wife.
That one was me. I realized that I had forgotten to love myself, forgotten what it feels like to get lost, being happy – being truly happy, having fun and just breathing.
Maybe I was looking at this wrong all along, maybe the one isn’t another person. Maybe finding the one is about finding ourselves, loving ourselves and in that never feeling unloved again.