This past week I was in New Hampshire visiting friends and seeing one of my personal heroes, Elizabeth Gilbert speak about her new book. During that time I came to realize just how much I seek love and approval from others. How someone else’s approval is so valuable to me, I’m willing to do almost anything to get it.
In my last blogpost I wrote about perfection not equaling love. This week I’m still decompressing that notion, but instead of striving for perfection to gain love and approval, I don’t want to make any mistakes so love and approval will be revoked. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.
Here’s a true story. My friends’ bathroom is in their bedroom, so that means at night I had to tiptoe past their sleeping bodies ninja-style in order to use the toilet. I felt absolutely terrified of waking them up, so much so I considered whether I could hold my bladder until daylight. (I couldn’t and didn’t. That doesn’t mean my heart didn’t race every time I crossed the threshold of their doorway though.) I honestly wondered if I woke them up if they would like me any less. Would my love get taken away? Would they decide I committed an offense so grand as to be unworthy of their friendship? My response to that is, “Gurl, you trippin.'” But it’s there. I felt that way. And it extends not just to friends but to strangers.
Sitting on the airplane flying back to SF, I asked my seatmates to get up multiple times so I could use the restroom. Each time I asked myself, “Do you really have to go? Can you hold it?” just because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. I want you to love me so much I’m willing to go to any lengths to get it. Silly Rebekah, don’t you know love is given freely, it’s not something you earn because you’re a good girl? I guess I don’t. I’m still overcoming my childhood notions that wearing the right clothes or saying the right things will “make” people love me. And I so desperately want people to love me. So much so that I consider not going to the bathroom. Poor me, poor everyone who contorts themselves just so they can feel loved. What would the world be like if we all experienced love and approval unconditionally? Beautiful, amazing, divine.
After going to the bathroom for the third time in two hours at my friends’ apartment, I started journaling, thinking about the elements I can control. Obviously I can’t continue to tiptoe through life trying my hardest to never make a mistake ever because that’s impossible. What I can do is affirm, “I release my need for others’ validation.” Oh my goodness. The freedom. To be able to show up in life as my authentic self, carefree and confident is the most amazing feeling. I cannot guarantee my friends will love me forever — although I’d like to think they will — but I can release my need for their constant approval. And I can work on the two relationships that will stay with me through the end of time: the one with myself and the one with my higher power.
Is there any mistake I can ever make that will result in making me no longer love myself? No. There’s not. I may not fully believe that in this moment but I want to, oh how I want to. And it’s possible, it’s all a matter o training. It requires I look myself in the mirror and say, “Rebekah, I love you no matter what.” If I say it often enough I will believe it. Affirmations are like that.
The other relationship, the one with my higher power, thankfully already feels full of unconditional love (thank God). I already feel loved probably because nine months ago I redefined my higher power and the relationship I have. I see the love the universe has for me reflected in a thousand ways. From catching all my flights on time and arriving early in New Hampshire despite the snowpocalypse in the Northeast, to getting job opportunities out of the blue. The more I see that love, the more it comes back to me. So honestly, I don’t need to run around squawking, “Do you love me? What about you?” because there are two places where it’s secured forever and always: myself and my higher power.
I dream of a world where we love ourselves unconditionally. A world where we understand love is not a prize, but rather a gift. A world where we no longer seek approval in the eyes of another and instead work on giving that to ourselves. A world where we allow ourselves to make mistakes because unconditional love will never be taken away. A world where we rest easy because we feel sheltered by the Supreme.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.