When this word comes up and out people’s mouths, they either believe they know everything about it, or they admit to knowing absolutely nothing about it. I thought I knew love before bravely living in the skin I’m in right now, but I did not. When I reference love, I’m not talking about the syrupy sweet, fake, and romantic emotional overload that is over-commercialized. I’m talking about staring through the hard, honest, and raw lens of unconditional love—that energy that can heal anything and has no rhyme or reason to it whatsoever.
Growing up sheltered, I was blessed to have been showered with unconditional love from my grandparents, who raised me. They loved me without cause or end, instilling courage, tenacity, and determination within me by loving me unabashedly. My grandmother used to quote Duke Ellington so frequently, telling me that she loved me “madly.” I learned to love others madly as well, but also blindly.
I grew up seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. This was all harmless as long as I was contained within the bubble of my grandparents’ love, but as soon as they passed away (my grandmother a week before I began college, and six months following that, my grandfather passed), I was hit with some hard-knock truths
From the age of seventeen, until my “runaway” age of 33, I grew to see that love from most people is conditional. You are accepted as long as you are doing what you are expected to do for them. The minute you grow outside of the realm of how they initially perceive you, that becomes the end of their conditional love. In the years following my grandparents’ deaths, I grew to see that oftentimes others only love you for what you can offer them, and I also saw very quickly that I had better be offering something good because I desperately wanted to love and be loved.
My need for love became one of my weaknesses. My overachiever tendencies kicked into high gear, and I enveloped myself into doing well so that people—namely men—would love me and never leave me. I jumped from one man to the next to the next, hoping to recreate what I missed from my grandparents. I ached for the security of knowing that I always had a safe place to fall. I desired to be protected and cherished. But the world does not afford that guarantee, I learned, and most humans don’t either because they simply don’t know how to operate that way.
In retrospect, I understand that I just craved being seen and heard. I desperately needed another soul to acknowledge my worth—and pain, and hurt, and beauty, and existence. Men were the easiest to expect this fairy-tale behavior to come from because, after all, women are taught to believe in princes on white horses. I projected all of my romanticized notions of safety and security onto the random men who had the pleasure of knowing (and running from) me.
The stench of desperation reeked from me because I had all of this love to give and no one to receive it in the way I thought it should be received. I moved from man to man, until I had the honor of meeting and knowing a special individual who helped show me what love truly is.
He was a man, but a man unlike any I had met before. He was strong, intelligent, spiritual, and yet flawed. Horribly, yet humanly, flawed. In knowing him, he taught me through a sundry of means and experiences, how to spiritually and emotionally evolve. He challenged me constantly to ask myself how I could truly love another person—man or woman—without knowing how to fully love and embrace myself. He showed me that the only way that I could grow to love myself was to deprogram and reprogram how I first learned to love myself, and that could only be done by seeing myself through the eyes of my creator.
This was a heavy lesson for me to learn because I felt like I knew and loved God, but I saw that I did not know how to revere my creator properly. I had placed God in a box because, following the death of my grandparents, I had been placed in a conditional box by others. This caused my comprehension of an all-encompassing love to be stunted. I needed to learn to accept all parts of myself—the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, and the parts that had grown rancid from years of disappointment and pain. Once I did this, I grasped the truth that I am only here in this lifetime to be an instrument of unconditional love. Grasping that fact was like the magical potion—the key that unlocked my personal evolution.
Here I am, six years later, still loving myself in spirit, mind, body, and soul. I now operate in a mode of celebrating the essence of all as the beautiful essence of one because we are all created as a multifaceted aspect of one energy: love.
There is nothing any of us can do to become unlovable. There is no one who can take away the all-encompassing love that I have for myself and others; that energy comes out now in everything I do and say. I treat myself well because I love myself. I don’t worry about what others say or think about me because I know that I am whole and amazing—just as I am, no matter what. I will always have me. People come and go—hell, men come and go!—but I will always have myself. There is such comfort in knowing this.
I know what you’re wondering: Where did her “love teacher” go? He, the one who brought me to this point of self-awareness, has since journeyed out of my life, but never from my memory. My daily functioning is largely based off of his reconditioning of me, yet I thank him in my rising. I have celebrated the message without canonizing the messenger, and I have spread his unconditional love just as we are all encouraged to do.
Just as he helped me to learn the true essence of God’s love, as opposed to the conditional love of the world, I am in turn charged to spread this message of beauty. I believe we are all commissioned to improve the world through the power of self-awareness and love.
I now have no expectations of others to make me happy. I remain loyal to what will be the ultimate fulfillment of my purpose. That looks like different things to different people, yet if I know that if I’m always operating from a place of unconditional love of myself and of others, everything will always turn out for the highest good. That’s the only outcome love will ever give us.