The other night, Brian and I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the first time since the beginning of our relationship. Back then I had little belief in true lasting love. Really. I was a hopeless romantic full of doubt. I wanted to be in love so badly, but I was terrified of coming close to it. Coming close to love had a way of triggering all my worst fears... If I start to love someone they surely won't love me back, If I want to be loved I can't be authentic, If I let my true self show it won't be enough, I am incapable of loving without judging and my judgments will ruin you, me and our love so let's just quit while we're ahead, I will break the heart of anyone who falls in love with me.
I can wholeheartedly say (and have said to many people) that Brian picked up all my shattered pieces and taught me how to love. And he did it by accepting me. He sat with all my neroutic fears and bundles of terror. He saw through them to the heart of who I was--a brave and hopeful girl who wanted to be in love but wasn't quite sure how.
I will never forget those nights, my first semester of college, sitting up late at night on his twin bed in his tiny apartment room, street lights flooding in through the blinds, tears flooding down my face and Brian simply listening. Those nights saved me. They gave me the chance to expose all my broken parts and have them held in tenderness. It was the biggest relief.
|Us back then|
But still, I tried to break up with him over and over again -- for no rational reason except that I was terrified, and that changing habits takes time. When that happened, he'd look me in the eye and ask, "How long do you want to hold on to your fear? You could refuse to commit for the rest of your life in the name of fear. But one day, you'll be ready to choose. And that day, you'll realize it's not all about who, but what. Love or fear. Do you love me?"
I did. I loved him so much and I knew it in my bones. It wasn't about him. It was about my inability to say "okay" to my terror. It was about my resistance to the way things were.
But Brian sat with me. And sitting with something, as is, will do incredible things. Open you to tenderness. Open you to the truth. Open you to acting with love over fear.
We watched Eternal Sunshine the other night, it hit me in huge ways. This is a clip from the very end of the movie. To catch you up to speed, in case you haven't seen it, Clementine and Joel fall in love, but after a year or so, Clementine decides erratically after a fight that she wants Joel erased from her memory completely. Joel finds out and decides the only way to cope is to do the same. The movie mostly consists of their beautiful memories as they're being erased by special neuro-docs. After both of their memories of one another have been erased, they re-meet and fall back in love. Only, a woman working for the memory doctor sends all past patients, Joel & Clementine included, tapes that were recorded pre-memory erasing, explaining why they wanted to erase that person from their memory. Leading up to this clip, Joel's listening to the tapes of what he said about Clementine, and she hears them. They're nasty and broken-hearted sounding. The way you would talk about someone who's hurt you so badly that you want them erased from you memory. But he's hearing them for the first time--his memory of her and their relationship totally blank. Reel the clip.
This scene in particular brought me back to those late nights on Brian's twin bed. My terror surfacing, his acceptance saving me. My fear jumping off bridges, his patience catching me. The act of saying "okay" is no small thing. I might need to remind myself over and over again of how beautiful and inspirational sitting with the messy parts of being human actually is. How it was that very thing, offered up by someone else, that gave me the most powerful relationship I've ever known. And how it is that very thing that can take me to wherever I dream of going.
Acceptance. Saying "okay". Knowing it really is.
A new habit worth forming.
So--in the name of practicing, I'll offer up some truth of how I am right now, as is. And I'll offer it with a quiet prayer for acceptance... May I hold myself with tenderness for all the ways my being manifests, past, future and present. Amen.
nervous about money
nervous about always putting myself out there
ready to take a bath and go to bed
Dear souls, how are you feeling right now? Feel free to show your true self in the comments below. Sometimes it takes being seen and accepted by another to begin seeing and accepting ourselves. We can practice being seen together. I'll honor you as you are.