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By Anita Dutt
We have memorized love like soft tissue feels the sacred breath of touch, the pang of pressed bruises, the ache of wanting – longing. We remember love like a photo album, like a photograph, and sometimes like it’s torn in two and roasting in the fireplace. But above all we hold love like awe holds the gaze of the stars, hears ‘you are insignificant in the greater scheme of things but, my dear; you feel the heart of what it is to be.’
Our idea of love rarely stands alone. We live in a culture that perpetuates the teaching George Siand encapsulates poetically: the greatest happiness is to love and be loved. Social media sashays the headlines of togetherness. We write invitations for the addressee plus one. We hand down the wedding rings to the next generation along with the belief that your worth should be entwined with another. We read to our children the stories of waiting for, of saving, of being brought to life by love. But it is in the teachings ofto-love-and-be-loved that we have lost sight of the valuable lesson of self love.
Connection is a phenomenon intrinsic to what it is to be human. But the existential truth of connection is that our radiance of love is always brighter when we have soaked our own hearts in the warmth of self-love. Before we are together, we were one – we are one.
When we undress the need to be together we bare our most earnest heart yearnings; the love letters to ourselves we never read, the you-are-beautiful, I-forgive-you, you’ll-be-okay, you choked on but could never quite swallow. And it’s here, where the seed of vulnerability asks for us to hold it, to nurture it, to believe in it, that we must finally learn to grow with it. It’s as gentle and as terrifying as surrender, but we must let go of society’s view of success to understand that to love and be loved by ourselves will bring forth the greatest happiness.
“…grow her a garden so that she never runs out of petals; never needs to question whether you love her so or not. Tell me you will make her believe that love can be something unconditional.”
This was an excerpt from the poem “The Braille For Self Love” by Anita Dutt, which first appeared on The Rising Phoenix Review.
Image: Steven Alexander