1. You have to know that you're sacred. If you want to be treated sacredly, if you want holy-fucking-yes experiences, if you're really honestly in it to win it: you cannot pretend that your body, feelings, desires, preferences, rhythms, health or happiness don't matter. THEY MATTER. Love is our gateway to the sacred. And all of your parts are meant to feel it. If you're not feeling sacred in your experience, it's not love.
2. You have to know that everything is sacred. The person you want to get something from. The person who took something from you, irrevocably. The honest-to-god terror you didn't want to go through. The person who's pissed at you for leaving. The loneliness, the desperation, the flailing. The quiet realization that changes everything. Nothing can be excluded from the fullness of the sacred. Bless your growing pains--expansiveness is surest the way to love.
3. You have to really see and accept that everything material dies. You. Her. Him. The Us We Create That We Want To Last Forever. Nothing material lives forever. Nothing. In really seeing and accepting this, you're much faster, braver, ballsy-er for the things that excite your soul. You're also a whole lot more honest. You worry less, let go, go for it. And this is what we need--people brave enough to go for broke, because ultimately, nothing goes with you to the grave. There's no savings account or retirement plan for love. There's now, and how you choose to amaze yourself, or not.
4. You have to protect what you respect. Which means you have to figure out what you respect. Here are some recommendations: your body, your time, your heart, your quality of life, your inner-peace, you feminine expression, theirs, the thing you spent a lot of care building, the Earth. We're slowly waking up as a people, getting better at treating each other with respect. In the mean time, the best way to help the process is to say no (firmly) to anything that doesn't feel honoring or enlivening.
5. You have to figure out who you are and own it--LOVE IT. Let the haters hate. You can't blame someone for only loving the parts of you that you reveal. When you closet parts of yourself, you end up feeling victimized, misunderstood or isolated when those parts are neglected. It's unfair to the people trying to love you, and potentially very very dangerous. Sacred love reveals everything, does not waste its energy in hiding.
6. You have to trust the unknown. You don't get to decide who's right for you or how long someone stays. You can't will meeting "the one". You can't push a cosmic connection into being. You will meet a lot of people who you love in one way or another, who are not meant to be your partner, in a long-term, traditional sense. If you stay open, you will let yourself experience that love and it will leave you feeling fuller, more alive and known. If you stay open, you will keep floating down the river until every single thing in you screams out, STOP. This is where I dock my being. This is who I want to rest and play and build and feast with. And even then, there is nothing certain but mystery and the moment's very real desire.
7. You have to expect heartbreak. Because everything breaks. Willing or not. But life and love are also constantly being born. Your heartbreak doesn't kill you, unless you want it to.
8. You have to practice suffering. Which is really just letting go. Because you cannot avoid it. Ever. And if you don't practice, when you're forced into it, you'll have no clue what to do with your unmeasurable desire to hold onto the impossible. (Which is fine. You'll learn. But practice helps). Bikram yoga's my favorite bootcamp for letting go. Discover yours. It will change your life.
9. You have to trust nature. That nothing stays dark forever. That winter is not infinite, nor summer. That you are meant to go through cycles of dark and light. That expecting anything else is highly irrational and very unhelpful.
10. You have to be a revolutionary. Look, we're in a culture of rape. No one likes it when I say it, but it's true. Material, emotional, psychological and physical assertions of power, from one or more people, onto another, without their consent, is happening EVERYWHERE. In the grocery store, the shopping mall, advertisements, classrooms, subtle conversational assumptions--and yes, our bedrooms. It's so pervasive that most of us are sleep-walking or dissociating because to really wake up is exhausting. You almost immediately need a nap just upon the thought of patriarchal degradation. So take one. And then wake up and experiment with your power and privilege (or lack of it). Because we are the only ones that will change the status quo. And the feminine divine is needed. Now. Start in the easiest place you can identify (bedroom, kitchen, workplace, body image). The payoff will be spiritually profound. Promise.
11. You have to stop trying to get somewhere. I know, I know...with all these "you have to's", if I were you I'd be thinking, This woman is giving me all these directions and now she's telling me to stop trying?! But it's important. Because wherever you are is where you need to be. Really. And when it's time for you to move, you will know it in your gut, your body, your heart, your psyche--exactly where and how.
12. You have to dream, especially when it hurts. This may seem contrary to #11, but it's not. It's been nearly a year since my ex-husband and I parted ways. In the darkest of hours, when I damn-near believed I'd be alone in a bed of sorrow forever, I wrote myself this little note on a paint-sample snatched from the hardware store. At the time, the words were near impossible to believe. But dreams don't come from rational places. They come from your hidden potential, and that potential is alive in the present. No scurrying on the hamster wheel to access it necessary.
**If you read this post thinking Fairy Language Does Not Compute, rest assured, this list is pretty talk for hard-earned, truly-learned realities. And the thing about those is this: it takes having them happen to know that they're real. Just like love.
Is it possible to love others without first being loved? Is it possible to treat yourself as sacred, without first being shown radical appreciation? Is it possible to accept loss, without first experiencing the worst of it? I actually, honestly don't think so. But life is long. Everything is coming for you. Especially if you want it. This much, I believe with all the faith in me. Let the seeds be planted. It is enough.
As always, if you're longing for a sacred space for all your secret wantings to be held, permission to write to me personally. It's never too late or too soon to confess the radical truths of your unfettered, daring, timid, worthy heart.
For related writings, the brother post to this piece lives here: Welcoming the Wildness of Love: 25 Lessons from a Year-Long Adventure in Dating.