the greatest love of all
I have a husband. Did you know that?
His name is Rory. We’ve been together for 17 years, married for 7. I say that as I noticed Rory doesn’t get a lot of lip service around here. Yet it’s not because he’s not worthy of my words or my time, nor that he’s not a great husband, great dad or great man. Because he is all of those things.
As I was writing this journal + reflecting on his “absence” in my writing, two reasons came into mind: 1) Rory’s always been good and 2) He’s off the hook.
Let me explain.
Since we met sophomore year in college, Rory has exhibited the same characteristics: Stable. Loyal. Kind. Calm. Even-keeled. Sweet. Respectful.
While he’s not perfect, he’s been the same dude and loved me the same way since the day we met. (And yes, together since college, no breaks. Except for the 24 hour period senior year where Rory broke up with me to experience what he called “college freedom.” But then called me at my babysitting job later that night and asked me to take him back #hesmartenedupquick.)
To be completely honest, Rory’s traits and his consistency in carrying them out used to annoy me. It felt boring. It felt uneventful.
So I did what any child of addiction did, and I tried to create chaos + dysfunction in our relationship because I thought that’s what love looked like. Extreme highs and lows? Passion? Blowout fights? Silent treatment? That’s how you showed love, right? I used to pick him apart. I used to ask him to be more like me. I made him feel that he wasn’t good enough. I sent the message that he needed to be different than he was.
Truth was, I craved to be loved + seen in a certain way, and I thought if he could just love me and see me in that way, everything would be amazing and our future would be happily ever after. God, why couldn’t he just love me in the way that I needed to be loved? So I stewed and lashed out until I felt my truth was known. And that went on for over 10 years. It’s a miracle the man is still here.
It was about a year ago that I finally had the “Ah-ha” moment, the realization that completely changed how I viewed our relationship. I don’t remember exactly where I was or what sparked it, but I was suddenly filled with this realization of, “Wait. How can I expect someone else to love me if I don’t fully + unconditionally love myself?”
Because the truth is friends, someone else cannot fix what is broken within us.
Someone else cannot fill the deep emptiness + longing that exists within us.
It is our job to love ourselves whole:
To be our own best friend, partner, lover, spouse.
What we crave can never be truly filled by something outside of ourselves:
Not by a man, not by a woman, not by alcohol, not by drugs, not by food, not by sex, etc.
The real hunger, the deep longing within us I believe, is a hunger for God’s love. For divine grace.
No one can heal that hunger besides us. It is a solo journey.
The good news is
We need not look outside of ourselves for love.
The love that we seek lies within us.
The greatest love of all is the the one between you + your precious heart.
And no matter your faults, transgressions or broken past, that love will never leave.
And so a year ago, I let Rory off the hook.
I told him that he wasn’t responsible for my joy nor my fulfillment in our marriage. That I was done blaming him. And off I went, into a deep healing journey. A journey where I began to explore all of the reasons I felt unworthy of love. A journey that I am still on. Day by day, one foot in front of the other, getting to know the true me. Part shit, part grace. Reclaiming my wild.
And I’ve realized that Rory’s love has served me beautifully along the way. It is exactly what I needed all along. Strength. Stability. Gentleness. A safe place to rest my head + heart at night. Unconditional love. The love I needed + deserved to give to myself.
Does any of this resonate with you?
Then start here love.
Decide to love yourself. Unconditionally.
Let your partner, family, friends, coworkers off the hook (even if it’s just in your mind). They may be confused at first, but eventually they will be grateful for the space + grace to just be themselves. To feel like they are enough. I know Rory feels like a great weight has been lifted off of our both him and our marriage.
Going forward, you are responsible for how you feel. No one else.
Let other’s love be a bonus. The cherry on top of your unconditional self-love sundae.
How would letting one person in your life off the hook for your happiness impact your life? What would change? How would that feel? Drop me a thought in the comments.
PS-This advice does not apply if you are in an abusive relationship of any kind, whether it be verbal, emotional or physical. First + foremost, know that you are not alone and that it is not your fault. If you are in an abusive relationship or think that you are, safety and support are critical. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or a domestic violence program in your area. Hotline operators are specially trained in domestic violence and are available 24 hours a day to provide resources, help with options to stay safe or just to listen.
National Domestic Violence Hotline