I recently had a wedding in a beautiful place about an hour drive from Malaga. My Dutch friend married her Spanish prince and they decided to celebrate it for an entire weekend with me – lucky me – and their other loved ones of course. I received the invitation last year, but at that time I wasn’t sure if I could make it because of my health conditions. When I booked my ticket in February I still wasn’t completely convinced whether I could attend, and more important, whether I could fully enjoy it. But I took the chance and I’m so happy I did!
Let me give you a brief glance of the wedding…
Imagine a hilly scenery and a gorgeous white villa. Flowers everywhere you look, lovely people from all over Europe, the sound of birds singing, the sun kissing your skin, traditional Spanish ‘waaiers’ – what on earth is the correct English translation for this word? –, nicely set long tables filling up the courtyard, a shepherd with his goats walking by on the background, outstanding tapas and beautiful wines. And then when the sun goes down, the evening is filled with music, summery cocktails, Spanish guests moving elegantly over the dancefloor, the Dutch who make an effort as well and a tiny idyllic caravan serving delicious crepes.
And at last, when the party comes to an end and most guests hit the sack, the guitars come out. Could this day be any more perfect?! There is basically nothing that gives me more joy than people playing music, especially men. I instantly fall in love with those holding a guitar or singing a song. So there we are: the bride, the groom, a few close friends, sitting together at the front of the house softly chatting the night away. Stars blinking above our heads, a cool breeze, some leftover booze, some laughter, two men playing guitar and one pretty lady singing her heart out.
A wedding drowned by love, but what exactly is this ‘something’ we call love?
Let’s face it, being in love is the best feeling. You feel the energy rushing through your veins, you can’t stop smiling, the world looks crazy bright for no particular reason – besides you being in love – you feel sexy and attractive, and everything seems to work out and fall into place. ‘Being loved’ also makes you feel amazing, incredibly secure and worthwhile. Looking back, this was something I thought I needed in order to be happy. But it was also exactly this that made (being in) love never completely satisfying for me. I was dependent on someone to feel worthy. Basically, I made someone else responsible for my luck.
In this scenario you start pushing and pulling for attention, in desperate need of an ongoing confirmation that you are (still) worthwhile to be loved. You start to adapt your life to satisfy others and at the same time you feel extremely restless because you lose track of who you are. You, him, her, the relationship, life: it will never be good enough. And if that particular someone whom you made responsible for your happiness drops away, you feel even more lost. Because all your self-worth dropped away with him or her.
Now, this really is the scary part of this ‘needing-to-be-loved-kind-of-love’. This is when insecurity can fully take over; ‘I’m worth nothing’, and blocks your (natural) ability of letting go. This is one of those moments when life can harden your heart and you decide that love sucks big time.
If you realize that your self-esteem is largely determined by your dependence on love and recognition, then it won’t surprise you that having a relationship or not plays a major role in our thinking. For many people, the love-relationship is their ultimate life goal, so either they chase a relationship if they do not have one, or they desperately hold on to a relationship, trying to make it work while deep down they know better.
~ Translated paragraph out of: Verslaafd aan liefde by Jan Geurtz (recommend reading!) ~
Maybe naïve, but I always used to think that love was (only) about two people loving each other or about the love you feel for your family and friends. In my experience love had very little to do with how I felt about myself, it always involved a person which I could project my love on. During my struggle of the past period, I realized that sincerely loving or receiving love is barely possible when you don’t love yourself. Or at least accept and respect yourself for who you are. How can you be convinced that someone loves you, thinks you’re awesome and attractive, if you don’t believe it yourself? Sounds odd right? And that’s where the pushing and pulling starts.
Start to love everything about you
When I started to feel that ‘self-love-kind-of-love’, I was blown away at first. For some it might come natural, but for me it was such an unfamiliar feeling and I remember wondering where this came from and who it could be I had fallen in love with. Because I actually felt ‘in love’, with butterflies and everything. So someone must have stoked this fire in me I thought, but at the same time I was pretty sure that I had not fallen in love with someone, since my world was still exceptionally small at that time and I spent most of my time alone in my apartment. I guess I had fallen in love with life itself.
I learned that love, in the first place, is about taking care of yourself. About honesty and openness towards yourself. Not beating yourself up if things don’t work out the way you planned, but reflecting on what you do and why you do it. I, for example, enjoy taking care of others, to make things easier and surprise them. But I didn’t always use this quality for the ‘right’ reasons. There was a lot of insecurity hidden behind my sympathetic actions. I wanted others to think good of me so I could think good of myself. In that sense, my actions weren’t that spontaneously or kind at all. I needed it to feel worthy, because I didn’t believe I was.
How to acknowledge the love for yourself if you really don’t feel it?
I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer to this, since everyone goes through their own process in their own way. I started simply by telling myself that I loved myself, that I was worthwhile no matter what and that my life was good. In the beginning I told myself every day and I didn’t believe a word of what I was saying. It felt really weird, ‘who was I fooling’. But it is so beautiful how these affirmations work on a subconscious level and I noticed that by repeatedly speaking out these kind words and beliefs about myself – out loud or silently inside, sometimes in front of a mirror… for real? Yes, try it! – , I actually started to feel it. We have the power to change and choose our thoughts and beliefs, to shift patterns that don’t serve us (anymore). Of course this doesn’t mean that I’m never insecure or never have critical thoughts about myself, just not in a self-rejecting kind of way anymore.
So for me, love is about accepting yourself. To love the full picture; the way you look, feel and act, your strengths and your weaknesses. And from this mild and peaceful place, there is a huge space to love others as well. To treat them as good as you treat yourself. To enrich each other’s lives, because you’re both perfect human beings. Equally worthy just the way you are. From that place your actions rise spontaneously, because nothing is done out of expecting something in return. It is unconditional. It truly is an act out of love.
Oh, in case you’re wondering why this blog is written in English…
…At the wedding I was asked by the groom if I could please start writing blogs in English; I’m not sure if he remembers this himself since his request came somewhat late in the evening 😉 But anyway, this one is for you!! Thanks again, both bride and groom, for such an amazing wedding weekend. I feel very grateful and wish you all the luck in the world. I really admire the life you two created; respecting yourself, your personal path and growth, as well as each other’s. And all this blended with true love <3
Nieuwsgierig wat er na de bruiloft gebeurde? Lees het in mijn blog over de struggle van ‘aan’ naar ‘uit’.