My divorce ending my eight-year marriage was finalized on July 1, 2014. It's appropriate that this closure came to fruition so close to July 4th, Independence Day.
I say this with a sense of bittersweetness. Even though letting go of my marriage was one of the hardest things I have ever done, I will always honor and appreciate the time that my ex-husband and I shared together.
Our split was the beginning of a new chapter of self-discovery for me. One focused on love. Not just what it meant to receive love, but to really BE love. I wanted to experience open-hearted love, not only with others, but for myself.
Expanding My Capacity For Love
Once I made that decision to fully open myself up to love (as cheesy as that sounds), things started to shift. The shift started slow at first -- because it was scary to be so open and vulnerable -- but then it picked up some serious momentum.
This shift was in my capacity for love.
My capacity to love someone even if we decide we aren't meant to be married anymore.
My capacity to love open-heartedly in general with no expectation of receiving anything in return and without any guarantee of what the future holds.
My capacity to feel love and connection with many people in my life, not just my romantic partner.
I'm going to be honest. For many years, love and intimacy were "back burner" priorities for me. Even though I wanted them so much and tried in many ways to ask for them, deep down, I was okay with not experiencing them to the degree that I truly wanted because... I secretly told myself that connection and intimacy were a waste of time.
I had big financial dreams that required a lot of attention and I rationalized that once I achieved those goals, I'd have plenty of time for connection and intimacy.
Better yet, maybe connection and intimacy would come into my life on their own because once I achieved my financial goals, all the stress would magically wash away. Right? Pssshhh.
This sounds so silly coming from me, considering how parallel it is to what I teach related to believing all your body-image problems will be solved when you reach that certain number on the scale or the waistband of your pants. It just doesn't work that way.
After the divorce, I realized just how much I had numbed out, blocking myself from both the low-lows AND the high-highs.
In order to protect myself from pain I had inadvertently shut myself off from receiving love too.
Let me tell you though, once I made the decision to open, the capacity to give and receive love expanded to the point that it felt like HD.
I could feel so much love from the inside out. In some moments, my heart literally felt like was going to burst.
The only way I know to describe it is like my heart had cracked open and fresh new pieces of it were finally being exposed.
It was crazy to me how present, happy, and "awake" I began feeling in ordinary, simple moments like:
- Talking on the phone with my Dad, who lives across the country, and hearing about his latest 5K race with his work buddies.
- Sitting on the floor of my sister's bedroom and talking to her and her boyfriend about food and other random things.
- Taking a nap on my couch with a breeze coming through the window, waking up and basking in the blissdom for a few moments before getting on with my day.
- Being held -- like really held -- looking into someone's eyes and feeling their love without them saying a word.
It's a bizarre feeling to still have the big dreams for the future while at the same time being so completely satisfied with where I am in any moment, not trying to make anyone happy, just doing what feels right.
This shift not only affected my capacity for love in relationships, but my level of love for and satisfaction with life overall. I'm not concerned, in a hurry, or worried about many of the things I used to be concerned about. I'm at peace with trusting the flow.
I feel like I've let go of the guardrails and taken the Universe's hand.
I've been talking about this a lot lately with family, friends, and clients and their first question is, "What did you do to start opening up to love in this way?"
Here are some of the things I did that helped this shift build momentum.
How I Opened Myself Up To Love
- Put my phone away and had real heart-to-heart conversations with people, asked questions, and then REALLY listened to their answers
- Paid less attention to Facebook
- Made a list of 5 things I appreciate at the end of each day
- Gave myself permission to do something every day that I really wanted to do
- Looked for the positives in everyone I interacted with
- Spent time in nature
- Moved my body every day in ways that felt good
- Ate foods that were nourishing to my body and tasted good too
I didn't (and still don't) do these things perfectly every time, but the effort and focus is what matters.
Every day is a new adventure, a new chance to practice, and another opportunity to deepen my connection with myself, which in turn, deepens my capacity for love even more.