Over the years I’ve never quite been able to resolve for myself the “you should’t need a man” comments that come my way. Of course I don’t, I think!
The feminist in me bristles as the double standard of women-don’t-need-a-man-but-poor-Jen-Anison-that-she’s-never-found-one.
And because I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and because I think I know some pretty remarkable women, I asked them to sort through their own feelings and spit out some words.
What follows is the third in the series.
Chelsea is a marvel. I came across her blog years ago and often find myself emailing her with the wish (no, the plea) that she write more, more, MORE. Basically I believe her writing makes me better--a better writer yes, but more than that, a better, more fully-lived-in human being.
So without further ado, her response...
I can distinctly remember the moment when I realized I loved myself enough to share it with someone. I’d thought, in past relationships, years of dating, recovered heartbreaks and so on that I “knew myself,” and “loved myself,” but this time it was something different. It was different because I was willing to walk away if it didn’t match up to root desires. The ones that honored my spirit. The thing was, I was only allowed to do this AFTER I’d shown vulnerability. After I’d given someone a chance, let them in, relinquished the pretense. There weren’t walls, or barriers. There was openness FIRST, barriers Second.
Here’s what happened, there came a crossroads where I had to answer the question in a relationship, “Is it worth the compromise?” There were a few things, (as most relationships encounter when you’re creating space for someone in your life) where I had to shift my direct WANT for that of my Partner. This time, however as opposed to shifting, or shrinking my want for my partner, I asked an additional question on top of that one, “Will I STILL love myself after I make the compromise?” While I may have loved myself before meeting him and during our time together, even happily in a relationship- the answer on the otherside of our inevitable compromises may have been “no.” If that’s the reality that meets you on the other side of that question, but you continue anyway (which I had many times in the past) that’s when I knew that my self-love was waning. I finally got to the place where unequivocally, the answer to that had to be a loud, confident, unshakeable, YES.
Women inherently, or excuse me, HUMANS, inherently want to give and receive love. So, why would we ever look at our fellow brothers or sisters, friends, coworkers and pity their plight to find it?
To be earnestly desirous or even aware of love's power there is an initiation that happens, maybe by way of a break up, a BIG QUESTION (like the one I discovered,) an “a ha!” of sorts that leads you to a set of non-negotiables and that resides at the center of your heart, or your gut- if you’re really clear, it’s both. These include boundaries, self-love and awareness of where your joy is conceived. To be intimately, keenly comfortable with showing all the sticky, ripe, bruised aspects of your soul to someone requires an understanding of that trifecta. Time examining, trial and error, research. Know your boundaries, know your self-love; how to give it, how to get it, where it comes from and know your joy. All the reasons we forget who we are and why we want to give/receive love is lost when the answers to those questions are gray, or undefined.
Build a life for yourself, one you’re proud of. One that has filling relationships, deep connections, twinkling lights in the midst of the city or dust covered leather boots in the countryside, awe and adventure....deep self-examination and healing, intimate recognition of your insecurities, your wounds, your big hairy-scary fears. Then, when you’ve cozied up alone, naked in negative space and oversized pillows, loving all of that “Stuff,” and willing to scoot over and let someone peek in, that’s when you know that you’ve done the work. When you still want to get undressed, literally and metaphorically with someone in spite of how truly terrifying that is and say, “I’ll share everything and if you don’t stick around, or don’t like it, I know exactly how ‘without you’ feels and I’m okay.”
Being willing to become soft is neither needy, or lacking intimacy with your SELF, in actuality you may just finally (after years of self-work, nights alone, dates, cycles of life and relationships......) be ACCEPTING yourself. You are not robbed of your independence or autonomy by desiring deeper connection.
One thing I know for CERTAIN is that everything most people do, whether attached or otherwise is to come back to the one fundamental truth that gets us up out of bed every morning, that makes you stay, or leave, or work an extra hour longer to provide; the thing that makes us work hard in general to create something foundational is LOVE. Everything we do, whether we can admit it to ourselves or not has some form of love as the desired outcome attached to it. That can be romantic, familial, or self-love. Allowing someone to love you and to be in the space of desiring to give that love back in return, is not only the greatest act of self-love, but the bravest one. Articulating and surrendering yourself to the flexibility that LOVE requires, while being able to answer the question “Will I love myself on the other side of this compromise?” with a firm “YES,” is inherently feminism. As women, tenderly support the journey of the beauties around you to find love, just remember, always, ALWAYS to keep that, “yes.”