It is kind of hard to put this into words. But basically, I have really been struggling lately with my own relationship with love.
Love is a very essential thing to have in life – or at least it feels essential for me to have love in my life.
I realize it is probably not quite so essential as food, water, shelter, safety – in the sense that, without these basics, all the rest can quickly become a highly theoretical exercise anyway.
But once those necessities are solidly in place, what is left to look for in life? Love. And this can – at least for me – prompt some personally uncomfortable questions.
For instance – what is my relationship like with others? What is my relationship like with me? Where does my supply of love come from? Is that supply consistent? Is there any danger of the supply being interrupted or even ceasing altogether?
This is particularly significant because, for those of you who have been following along here for some time, you probably remember I went through a breakup with my longtime partner about five months ago.
The breakup caused a huge interruption in my supply of love. Or perhaps “interruption” is not the right word – it was more like the supply just suddenly ran out.
To clarify, this never made me question whether separating was the right thing to do. On the contrary – it felt like the only loving thing left to try that might safeguard what love we had previously shared together.
Yet it wasn’t until after the split when I began to realize to what extent I had let my own efforts to ensure a steady supply of self-love lapse.
This prompted yet another whole set of uncomfortable self-queries…queries that eventually led me to realize the real reason for our split.
It wasn’t that there was any lack of love – from either side. It was that, at least in my half of the equation, the love in the form he was willing to offer love had become quite simply indigestible to me. I couldn’t take it in. It wasn’t what I needed.
Once I realized this, I also instantly realized the real cause of the chronic stomach aches and pains that had so consistently plagued me during the final year or so of our connection.
Interestingly, right about the same time I realized this, I happened to be reading a book called “Gut: the inside story of our body’s most underrated organ.” In the book, the author explains how the gut is supposed to be our “second brain.”
What I think she means is that my second brain apparently knew well before my first brain that our parting was just a matter of time. It was trying to alert me in the language it had to work with, which wasn’t thoughts or words but, well, bloating. Gas. IBS. Distress.
Even more interestingly, I can now say I have had far fewer stomach issues in the months since we split.
These have been handily replaced with an urgent need to find a new supply of love, and also one I can digest. This then prompted yet another set of uncomfortable questions, this time about what the word “digest” means to me in the context of “love.” I know what it means when it comes to food. I can digest yogurt. I can’t digest beans.
What does digestible love look like? What does it feel like? How can I tell the digestible kind of love from the kind that gives me emotional (and sometimes physical) IBS?
(I am still working on answering this question, by the way, and I have a feeling it might be one of those lifelong questions where bits and pieces of answers come slowly over time.)
But here is what I have learned thus far. I have learned that digestible love is accepting of the way I am today.
Digestible love doesn’t try to change me (even if it really, really wants to) but rather at least attempts to stand in my shoes, see life from my perspective, grasp why I say or do the things I say or do and why that makes sense to me.
Digestible love is honest – not opinionated, but honest. To me, that means digestible love may be tough to hear but never deliberately hurtful or manipulative. Digestive love always has a constructive and never a destructive intent, even if it doesn’t deliver this message perfectly.
Digestible love begins within. In other words, the more I truly, honestly, vulnerably and humbly love myself, the more I will be able to allow myself to receive love from others. Otherwise I will close myself off from accepting even the most digestible love from even the most unconditionally loving of sources.
Digestible love wants the other person to be true to themselves and their life path more than it wants what it wants from them. This is a really hard one – and it is also the kind of love that gave me the courage to separate from my longtime love. This kind of digestible love really, really needs to begin within, because it first requires wanting me to be true to myself and my life path more than it wants me to hang on to something that isn’t working just to avoid having nothing now and perhaps ever again.
Most of all, digestible love is consistent. It is still there during a fight. It is also there during happy times and sad times. Digestible love – to me at least – feels like the foundation of a house. Even if all the walls and the ceiling come crashing down, there is that foundation, still there, still steady.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever had someone in your life – a family member or friend, or perhaps a mate – where you loved them and they loved you but somehow this message of love just kept getting scrambled in the translation? Did you ever have physical or emotional symptoms – perhaps headaches or stomach aches, or anxiety or depression – that in hindsight might have been warning signs? Does the concept of digestible versus indigestible love resonate with you? It’s a little bit of a weird way to describe love, I know, but somehow it just seems to make sense to me. I’d love to know if you have any insights!