Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Mantra: Grown Up Love

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." - The Fault in Our Stars

My idea of love has changed as I've gotten older. When I was four, I asked my then best friend, Brent, to marry me because my family had just moved two hours away and I had no idea what to do without my favorite same-size-as-me person in my whole little four year old world.

In my teen years I had that intense teen love we all experience for celebrities and rock stars we've never even met. I was certain Jonathan Brandis/Heath Ledger/Orlando Bloom and I were meant to be together forever. And ever. AND EVER.

Then I had a real boyfriend and that, of course, changed everything. Obviously, I had to break up with Jonathan/Heath/Orlando via a short "It's not you, it's me" speech to the posters I had on my bedroom walls. They took it pretty well. I think.

Being in a serious relationship at a young age was everything the books, songs, and TV shows had promised- plus some. Love was all consuming, daydream engaging, completely and utterly awesome. It was also intense, confusing, and completely bizarre at times. Just being a teenager is hard work. Being a teenager in love is 12 kajillion infinity times harder. We eventually broke up and I moved on, too quickly, to my next boyfriend turned, now, ex-husband.

It wasn't until I hit my very late 20's that I understood a completely different type of love and a completely different way to think about relationships. Only now do I see what I couldn't have understood any earlier in life. I had too many lessons to learn about Grown Up Love.

For one thing, it all started with my own self awareness or what I like to call "Understanding Your Puzzle Pieces."

This means something more important than you may realize. It means fully and completely accepting who you are and what you want out of life without sacrificing that for anyone else. It means understanding what you can put into a relationship, what you can't, and what you need the other person to contribute. It means not giving up what you want most for what you want now.

Then, I had to really, truly, not-lie-to-myself-about-this-and-think-I-was-doing-it-when-I-really-wasn't: "Love Yourself First."

There have been great men in my life who have loved me greatly, but what I have learned without a shadow of a doubt is that no one can make up for the lack of love you give yourself. This is a gift only you can give. Once you realize that and accept your own love, loving others and being loved by others will be a completely new and different experience. It will be a whole experience because, for the first time ever, you will be loved inside as well as out.

The third lesson I discovered was massive. It was that I had a tendency to be kind of an idiot. I like to refer to this as the "Forever Right Now" syndrome that I know many, many of us have experienced or are still going through.

Have you ever met someone or even just glanced at someone who you thought was attractive and 10 tiny seconds later you've already pictured yourself making out/married/having babies/growing old with them? It's cool. We've all done it. We've all played that game. To a certain degree, that's good. You don't want to go out with someone and feel like you're wasting your time if you don't see any kind of a future. But you also don't have to constantly be thinking of next steps-next steps-next steps.

Love and all of the things that come with it will come when the time is right. Forcing it or pretending will only hurt you and the other person in the long run. Also - and this is important - you don't have to be in looooooooove when you've only been dating two months, or five months, or 5 seconds. Grown Up Love gets that. Here's the thing, though- Grown Up Love doesn't mean you have to wait to feel this way until you've had 17 failed relationships, are 36 years old, and finally get invited into the Grown Up Love Club. This type of love means one thing very specific: It means you're patient. It means you've planted the seed and now you're willing to give it water and sunlight and all the attention it needs to grow into the full bloom of real, genuine, lasting love.

How did I learn this? I had to go about it the hard way, which finally led me to The Boyfriend, who has taught me what patient love is all about. It has been the best gift anyone has ever given me (outside of me learning to love myself, of course) because only now do I understand what it's like to love slowly. Only now do I understand how taking your time in love requires so much more and connects you so much deeper. Only now do I give not one damn about Orlando Bloom or whoever is the Hollywood Man of the Moment. Only now do I live in my own love life and not some fantasy I've created in my head based off of what I think or want to happen or what some movie/book has made sound enticing.

I still believe in love at first sight. I think that can and does exist. I still believe in soul mates and young love and old love and everything in between. Some of us know how to do Grown Up Love long before the rest. My hat is off to all of you who fall into this category.

One last lesson that is key in Grown Up Love is: "Nothing's Ever Set in Stone."

When you enter into a relationship you enter in as who you are at that moment. Your significant other does the same. However, as it is with everything in life, change will happen within yourself and with the other person. What you want out of life may change, what you want to do with your life may change, what you look like will definitely change. Grown Up Love understands this and accepts it.

Better yet, Grown Up Lovers know that you are made up of tiny changes that have taken place over the years. That each decision you've made and each dream you've chased and all the cumulative changing you've done through the years has made you who you are, made you the person they love. They know this and accept that you will continue to grow, shift, and expand. Their love for you isn't based on a single version of you in time. It is a love of all the you's you have been and that have yet to come.

I am so thankful I now know what Grown Up Love is. I would do it all over again to get to this place.

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