I was watching an interview today with Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat Pray Love” and “Big Magic,” among other things. In this interview she handed me a big, shiny, gold key that unlocked a door I’ve pounded on, gimmied, and tried to pry open for many many years. Beyond the door is someone to be with me, to hold me, to listen to me throughout all of my struggles, 100% of the time, without backing down or running away in fear.
This is a hefty task; I battle with my mind every single day, in a war that began before I retained fully formed memories. Growing up a self-proclaimed misfit, I’ve craved a companion to see me through my lowest, and highest moments. From middle school to college, I sought out friendships and relationships to make me feel less alone. In adulthood, as much as I wished I wasn’t, I constantly hoped for a partner who would really see me, and who wouldn’t scare easily when my depression, anxiety, and eating disorder inevitably made themselves known. Eventually, in each city I moved to, I made friends who didn’t shy away from my authentic self, but alas, the door remained closed.
When I suddenly found myself in a partnership with someone who understood me like no one ever had, I thought I had finally unlocked the door easily, as if in my sleep or when I wasn’t paying attention or multitasking. To this day, this wonderful man has never run away or made me feel less than for all the commotion my brain has caused. He has seen me through hospitalizations, relapses of self-harm, constant body-stealing panic attacks, chronic pain, mistakes, lapses in judgment, and so much more. He has also seen me through my joys, my successes, my creations, my revelations. Even as a boy-crazy teenager, I never thought I would get lucky enough to be wanted and loved by someone like him.
Even so, I realized with shock and disappointment that I was still on the other side of this stubborn, obstinate door. After all, no one can truly be there for you 24/7…eventually people have to take a pee break, go to work, make dinner, walk the dog, do the laundry. And in those moments, there you are again, alone with your mind. Or so I thought.
Liz Gilbert, this tremendous woman, among many other nuggets of wisdom, creativity, and familiarity, gave me the key to see (FINALLY!) who was on the other side of the damn door. Now, I will hand you the key, as well. Let’s open it together.
Love is on the other side of the door. Love is the one who will be your companion, forever. And I really do mean forever. Love will sit with you, will listen to you gripe, sob, laugh, scream, whimper. Love will hear you say “I’m not good enough,” “I am a failure,” “I can’t do this.” Love will also be there when you shout “I am enough!” “I am beautiful!” “I am powerful!”
No human being will ever be able to show up for you every single time you need a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on. Not your partner, not your best friend, not your spouse, not even your therapist. Love will. I promise you.
Love will never be able to solve all of your problems, or tell you what decisions to make. But Love will always be there with you, if you let her.
Open the door to Love. Learn to embrace Love, to allow Love to fill you up, to hear everything you have to say, no matter how dark or twisted you may think your thoughts are. Because Love will never run away.
I am learning, slowly, to give Love a chance. To allow her to be there for me when am low. To give my partner a break (though he never asks for one). Love has shown me aspects of myself I’ve never seen. Love has offered forgiveness and rest in places I’ve never considered or thought possible. Love has wrapped me in her arms, and again and again reminded me that she will never leave my side.
Even if you can’t believe it, Love will be there for you, too. If you look for her, Love will always be there. Maybe you haven’t even found the door yet. But when you do, she’ll be there, waiting for you to open it.