“Love takes off the mask that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” ~James Arthur Baldwin
I sat silent on one end of the phone. I could hear my own breath and heart pounding in my ears. I was sitting on the precipice of greatness, and all I had to do was express what I was feeling. Sounds relatively straightforward, so why did I feel so anxious?
To say that I have worked hard at rediscovering my authentic self would be an understatement. I have been on this quest in one form or fashion since I was seventeen, so about seventeen years now. And I have made significant progress, if that is the most correct way to label my journey.
I have struggled with eating disorders and self-acceptance and self-love and compassion and kindness for others. I have done away with meaninglessness in my life for the most part. I have gotten away from placing importance on material possessions and have worked to simplify my life.
I am more content and sure of myself and who I am than I have ever been. So why would uncomfortable silence throw me for such a loop at this stage in the game?
To be perfectly honest, although I have demonstrated gains in areas of my life, I have yet to find someone who is a kindred spirit. As I have come to know myself better, I have been better able to express and identify what I truly want in a partner. That being said, dating has been less than successful.
More often than not, dates have ended with blank stares from across the table when I open my mouth about my spiritual journey. I have never been able to fully express to another the very thing that defines my existence on earth, and have it received in kindness and understanding.
So, when I met Rob for the first time, he literally took my breath away. I immediately detected his soul, his compassion, and passion for life. I recognized his connection with his feelings, and yet his ability to not take the whole process too seriously.
In him, I saw myself. For the first time, I did not feel alone. I did not feel different. I felt like I was home.
So, back to the phone call: the reason I was so nervous was that, although I had this intense connection with Rob, we were at a crossroads. I could sense that we both wanted to address it, and at the same time neither of us wanted to address it.
We were so early in our developing relationship, I felt like I needed to let him know how intensely I felt about him and how incredibly special I thought our connection was. And boy, was it scary!
And in that moment of silence, I reflected back to helpful ideas I had used in learning to love and accept myself. Incredibly, they applied in this new relationship and how I needed to proceed in expressing my feelings.
1. Stay present and stay you.
During our conversation, I felt this urgent need to run and hide from the emotion building inside me. I felt like I wanted to crawl back inside my shell and disengage from the desire to open up completely to him.
We were obviously attracted to one another, but the old voices of fear of rejection and fear of not being good enough crept back into my head. I realized that I had gone through that when I was learning how to love and accept myself.
I had all of the preconceived notions of who I was or should be, and had to demystify all of that and realize that I am enough just the way I am. As is.
I had to continuously get myself back to my center, to focus on the present moment and trust in the process of being my authentic self, knowing that the person who was supposed to cross my path, would.
2. Live openly and honestly and speak from your heart.
As I learned to accept myself, I found that speaking from my heart became easier. It’s not that we deliberately try to deceive others, but we often do a good job of deceiving ourselves.
Trying to stop emotion and put up your defenses won’t do anyone any good. It may protect you in the short term, but you are the only one who will be harmed in the end. It will be you who misses out on true happiness and joy.
Things may not always turn out the way you envisioned, but there is no defeat in living with pure intention.
3. Go all in and accept that it may fail.
Part of discovering myself again was learning as I went along. But unlike times before when I was harsh and self-defeating when I made a misstep, I was kind with myself. I gave myself some encouragement, the benefit of the doubt, and got back up and continued the best I could.
When I finally trusted myself and accepted myself fully, I was able to mess up completely, yet be okay with it, because I knew I was doing my best and had set out with good intention.
In the same manner, I had to realize that I am not perfect and neither is my partner. Showing compassion when there is a misstep is what will make the bonds stronger. That is how I needed to view Rob and our budding relationship.
We had established similar core beliefs and journeys and now I had to trust in that as being the foundation for whatever was ahead of us.
If that meant faltering and deciding we were not as compatible as we first believed, then so be it. I couldn’t be disappointed if I gave it my all and at least attempted something amazing.
The phone call ended with me bumbling through my feelings pretty inefficiently. And wouldn’t you know it, he reciprocated and expressed relief about me bringing it up. He too felt like we had a connection and had great interest in pursuing it.
If there is one thing I could leave you with it would be this: Don’t harden yourself to that pure emotion. Open up and welcome it in. Let it flow through you. Let the tears well up in your eyes and say the things your heart whispers. The person who is meant to hear those words will.
Photo by Darren Johnson
About Mandi Vaughan
Mandi Vaughan is a woman who is full steam ahead in her spiritual journey. She is happily pursuing living simply, and that is enough.