Stop Looking for Love
So, this was the conversation I had with myself recently. Don't act like I'm the only one who does this. You talk to yourself, and you probably answer back. Don't even try to deny it.
Anyway...where was I? Oh, yeah...the conversation with myself went like this:
ME: What are you doing?
ME: I'm looking for love.
ME: How's that going?
ME: Not well.
ME: How long have you been at it?
ME: About 45 years now.
ME: Why don't you stop?
ME: I can't.
ME: Why not?
ME: Because I really want to find it.
ME: What if looking for love is the thing that's keeping you from finding it?
ME: Well...that would just suck all kinds of suck.
The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder if maybe I was onto something. Could it be that looking for love is the very thing that prevents me from finding love? Could it be that looking for love isn't how you find love?
I now know I've been believing this lie that love is "out there" -- which means, of course, that love is not "in here". So, I've been looking for love without realizing that love is here beside me, above me, beneath me, within me. To quote one of my favorite bands from high school (Everything But The Girl): Love is here where I live.
But I don't always trust this. Truth be told, I don't always trust it because I don't always feel lovable. So much junk and baggage from my past conspires against me to keep me believing that love is not here with me -- that love is somewhere out there -- and that I will only find love after I prove myself through some long and arduous ordeal.
But I've done that. I've tested my mettle. I've sailed the seven seas, jousted with windmills, tamed a dragon or two, spoken in tongues, and walked through fire. Still...nothing.
What I've learned is that I'm a little like Dorothy in Oz. I had the power all along. I didn't need to go on some terrible quest. I was enough to begin with.
I texted this to someone who knows me very well recently. I said, "I think I get it. I'm enough already. I don't have to try to be more than I am. In fact, it's when I'm trying to be more than I am that I always end up shooting myself in the foot."
She wrote back: "You sure are a slow &@%#-ing learner."
Sometimes I am. Sometimes I am.
So, here are a few notes from my journey -- things I've written out in my journal lately. I hope you might find them helpful.
First, looking for love is like voluntarily going to hell. The search for love comes from forgetting who you are, where you've come from, where you're going, and what love actually is. You go looking for love when you've fallen from grace and are afraid that love has abandoned you. Or you go looking for love because you know what it feels like to have someone look at you and say, "Take him away. Give him to someone else. I don't want him." That's the struggle adopted kids like me don't often talk about. I know it probably didn't play out like that, but in my head and in my heart...it might as well have. For whatever reason, you believe that you exist outside of love. I am "here" -- love is "there" -- and I can't seem to figure out how to get inside. I'm like an orphan kid with his nose pressed to the window. You become consumed with trying to get inside that house, and -- if you could ever con or sneak or trick someone into letting you in, you must do everything in your power to stay there. Do not make yourself too much of a nuisance. Make sure you are pulling your own weight. Make sure you are earning your keep. If you become too much of a bother, they might decide to put you on someone else's doorstep. It happened before. Looking for love is hell.
Second, looking for love is terrifying. I am convinced that the most fundamental and existential fear humans experience is the notion that I am unlovable. There is some defect deep down in me that makes people look at me and withhold love from me. This one fear gives rise to all the other fears and anxieties I've dealt with for 45 years. Fear of abandonment. Fear of not mattering or measuring up. Fear of discovery. Fear of intimacy. Fear of authenticity. It all comes from this underlying sense that I am -- at my core -- unlovable. Of course, this fear is a ghost -- or, rather, it is what people considered a ghost but was more likely just a sheet flapping in the wind. If you could find the courage to approach it and embrace it, you'd learn that it has no power. But you'll never know that if you're afraid to examine it closely. So, you leave it alone. You pretend it doesn't exist. And you go looking for someone who you might be able to convince that you are, in fact, lovable. Do whatever you must. Say whatever you must. Trick them if you have to. Earn it. And then make sure they never find out that you fooled them into loving you. If they ever figure it out, they'll leave you for sure. Looking for love is terrifying.
Finally, looking for love hurts. Until you change your mind about your own fundamental lovability, you'll always need someone else to overturn that judgment. You'll create a fake self. You'll hide your pain and your dark matter. You'll seduce. You'll draw attention. You'll win admiration. But because it's not the real you, it won't ever attract real love. And you'll always have this suspicion that if the other person know the truth about the real you, they'd leave you just like everyone else has. So, even when you're with this person, you'll keep your eyes peeled for where you'll go next once this one dumps you. You'll always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. You'll flinch all the time. You'll be super defensive. And because you never change your mind about yourself, all you find is more evidence of your own unlovability. Looking for love hurts.
It's so hard to believe in true love while you're looking for it. The more you look, the less you experience it. And the less you believe you're worthy of it. You begin to doubt it's even possible for someone to love you. If they say they do, they probably have some agenda. You may even begin to wonder if love exists.
That is the worst pain of all. You cannot live like that. You may continue to breathe and have a heartbeat, but you wither from the inside out. You end up a shell, a shadow of yourself.
D.H. Lawrence said, "Those that go searching for love only make manifest their own lovelessness, and the loveless never find love. Only the loving find love, and they never have to seek for it."
You don't get out of hell by your own effort; you get out of hell by surrendering. You don't find love by looking for it; you find true love by discovering the things you're doing to keep you from experiencing the love you already have -- the things that keep you from being who you already are. You begin to find love when you remember that you come from love, you're headed to love, you are love.
That begins with casting off the lie that you are unworthy of love, unable to love, unlovable. Ultimately, the goal is not to find love; it is to know love. That starts when you stop looking for love.