Photo credit: Beulah Davina

I went about learning to love myself in reverse. I believed this love would find me in the eyes of others, that their love would be a source of sustenance. This very belief led to years of forging and wrestling into identities foisted on me. An uncomfortable fit but I remained clumsily dressed, desperately killing off any voice of resistance. In my simple desire for love I became accepting of its practice being self-sacrificing, and this was how you met me. At this stage of my life, I would readily sacrifice my comfort for the comfort of others to the point of my own detriment. Over the years, however, you have shown me otherwise. Another path of love manifested and I grew to understand the ways in which your love has evolved me.

In my simple desire for love I became accepting of its practice being self-sacrificing, and this was how you met me.

Being with you has taught me many things about love, about us, and especially about myself. Love with you has shown me how to bend, and at times to break; dismantling misguided expectations of what I had seen, been taught and believed to be romantic love. Instead, our love is just that – ours. In placing and understanding its value, we have grown to be open to love and its offering, and this has expanded me, us, beautifully.

In all this, the most valuable lesson I have learned in being with you is being true to myself. Loving myself harder and accepting who I am without compromise or judgement. Your love unfolded a mystery of my own: that I longed for a deeper love in myself, to see what you saw, and whats more, to believe in it. Because your loving me was not enough. The wonders you saw I wanted to see them in me too and more. Your genuine care bore resemblance to the love cocoon I often took refuge in from my parents and my brother. In their love, I knew I would always feel safe and accepted. But I hadn’t found this in myself or anyone else. You saw me when I was most damaged and broken. Still now, when I have been broken/beaten your eyes have held me, seen me, in their own.

Because your loving me was not enough. The wonders you saw I wanted to see them in me too and more.

Here I was building with you, while all my insecurities and self-hatred continued its vicious cycle. I sought validation from you, and though our friendship created nurturing grounds, there was an underlying fear to really getting to know who I was. I wanted you to do all the work and I wanted to hide behind it: give me my confidence, believe in my ideas, invest in my mind, my thoughts, my heart. But you resisted, and gently, you questioned: what do you believe? what do you need? what do you want? why don’t you do it? why don’t you believe?

So I withdrew into myself, you stepped back, you left me to discover and lean into my curiosities without judgement or interference and I’m so glad you did.

Despite what I had previously believed to be true, I recognised that love with you equalled love with myself. That by learning more about my needs, tending to my insecurities and fears, allowing my body and mind to heal from years of damage, that I can then better support you, encourage you, champion you because I genuinely believe in my, your and our potential. That in the six years of being with you, I have finally embraced the core of our romantic love for each other. That this love is whole, is imperfect, is progressing, is empowering, is stimulating, is expansive, is our journey, is our investment in each other and in ourselves. That knowing when I look into your eyes, and you look into mine, that we see each other for who we truly are and celebrate our individuality, as well as our togetherness. That you have me, and I have you, and most of all that we have ourselves.

– with love + light, Mx