“To love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” -David Viscott

“You’ve just gotta love yourself first.”

This was one of those times I wish I had a video-camera quality memory to record the conversation I was having. It was significant, moving. But so was every conversation I had had to this point  with this particular person, each word leaving a footprint on my thawing, but still tundra-like heart, covered in snow and ice.

“Do you think things would have been different if you weren’t leaving,” I asked.

“I think it’s possible,” he said.

I’ve been through the mistake of an all-too-soon long distance relationship. That wound is still a short bit away from healing. The trick is knowing that each party has the courage to do all that is necessary for love to thrive, not just limp along out of a broken neediness and fear of being alone. I know that I would not endure that again.

Silence. But not the uncomfortable kind, the kind that comes from a natural, unspoken understanding. The kind that comes from mutual respect.

I’ve been single for about a year and a half. It’s mostly by choice. Well, more out of necessity really. And the circumstance of living in a town that is rather small. I’ve dated, and it’s been okay, I guess. But sometimes these things hit you over the head like a caveman getting takeout in a shitty, anachronistic B-film from the early 20th century (complete with dinosaurs). You feel transparent, naked. Exposed. And it makes your head hurt and all dizzy-like.

Somehow, I’ve been okay with it, I guess, and hearing out loud one of many things that has gnawed at me over the past year from somebody who, in the big picture of my life, has only known me for an inconsequential period of time, shakes me. The layers of bull I’ve piled up seem pretty pointless, and I finally feel ready to shed them.

The observation, though brings me to my point: you have to love yourself first.

I can list tons of reasons that I am awesome. Okay, that sounds exceedingly arrogant, let me rephrase: there are many things I like about myself. But what I’ve realized is that while, yes, I like many things about myself, I have somehow managed to live almost 25 years and not actually like, no LOVE myself. I don’t mean in some vain inner-goddess worshiping, narcissistic way. That’s not love. That’s insecurity.

I mean in the sleep-so-fast-you-can’t-wait-to-live-your-life-like-it’s-Christmas-morning sort of way. I mean in the get-so-caught-up-in-something-you-love sort of way. I mean in the damn-it-feels-good-to-be-a-gangster-up-at-the-ass-crack-of-dawn-running-jumping-singing-with-the-birds-in-that-princess-costume-from-when-you-were-four sort of way. I can’t recall feeling that way much at all.

If anything, I am exceedingly grateful to have met this person and have been irreversibly blessed by it. My life has been improved permanently by seemingly innocuous interactions. And I hope our paths  cross in the future.

Well, then, what is this? This is the realization that there is a full-tilt star quality fusion reaction starting at my core. (maybe that’s why I’ve been so gassy lately. ahem…) This is the full immersion in truly believing my life is awesome and I have something of value to share with the world. This is the ignition of the internal passion that drives me, not out of anger like I’ve been living, but of joy, contentment and love. This is conviction and drive. This is the thing I fight for, live breathe and die for. THIS IS SPARTA!

And it’s all within me.

I’ve spent far too long putting my happiness in other peoples’ hands.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of love as being much like feeling the sun on your face. You can get along just without experiencing it for a while. But you do need to feel it every once in a while to remember how good it is to simply bask in and share with another. I know I have some overcast and slightly cloudy days ahead and will not feel the sun on the outside sides for a bit longer. But at the very least, I can make sure I feel it on the inside until that time comes so I will know the full pleasure of feeling it on both sides.