Give Me Love like Her.
Gen Rabten, a Buddhist teacher, once said that in healthy love relationships, the benefits of love usually outweigh the attachment that makes them toxic. So he says not to avoid love only to avoid the attachment: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
I never believed in unrequited love. Love unrequited too long — taxing, toxic love — is not love when the love of the self has been forgotten. Unrequited love is not something others inflict on us. We do it to ourselves.
Mine was fueled by so much sexual attraction to a woman. The attachment part became too strong. We both knew this.
I met her in a car. We picked her up, a foreigner in our land, a new church attendee. I wasn’t a minister yet.
She was radiant in a simple ensemble. Her eyes beamed with a spirit that has fought being put down for most of her life. At the prime of her teens, being told to wear hideous braces, and being overweight, she found few friends. Yet all her pictures showed her with eyes perceiving the best in people. I silently prayed she was not one of those visiting Caucasians because I wanted her to stay.
We first kissed under a street light when she challenged me after a few dates, “What are you waiting for?”
Later she confessed that on our first night out, she felt swallowed by an immense persona. She had always felt small. On the opposite, I grew up being the apple of the eye of the clan leaders on both sides of mom and dad. I could enter a room and make people love me with a smile blessed with dimples and a positive outlook.
She was often bothered by self-doubt, and allowed herself to be bludgeoned by demands at work and at home. I kept telling her she was beautiful, that she was enough. I kept wondering if she believed it.
She called me Sunshine, and would sometimes be in tears in appreciation of me. She once told me she was head over heels. But she always doubted if she ever was in love with me. I took all that. After all, I was the first woman she has ever considered romantically. I don’t wonder that we would often be in tears professing we love each other and yet she still didn’t trust this.
We were both broken. We both came from 7-year relationships where we gave all to our significant others. She had moved her whole life to start a family two continents away. I had replaced my own family with my needy in-laws.
Her ex was a poor but talented artist from a big clan — she felt easily adopted. My ex was a poor but inspiring young activist from a big clan in a weary fishing village — they treated me like royalty. Her ex cheated on her, it took seven months to separate. My ex cheated on me, it took nine months to separate.
Forsaking ourselves in needs of others had been easy. Being able to trust in love was a long shot.
Yet, we were always enamored by our friendship. We were each other’s fans: I don’t know how she juggles work, Yoga, kids, and home, and she doesn’t know how I am constantly in planning and execution of so many dreams. She admires me for being a minister, I am in awe of her being a doting mother to two wonderful kids.
We broke up for the third time, three months ago. We could not mend each other. The shadow of our souls that needed to be made unbroken kept haunting us. We have met a little too soon, but soon enough to learn how loving people can be broken and how broken people can be loving — in a way only broken people can understand.
The soul called to be confronted. The soul needed keeping. The soul needed seeing, independence, creative freedom. We don’t just discover the self, we create it as well, and reintroduce it to the self.
Now is not the time to be together. I know she thinks of me often as I do her. And we have both professed this. She said we are both in a clarifying process. Officially, we are broken up. She has started Kabbalah, I’ve started habitual days of fasting and meditation.
We don’t update each other as much, but I’m sure we both take comfort in the other making the world a better place, unchained and in change. “I am assured the world is better knowing you’re in it,” she said, “Keep shining!”
Some nights she will probably feel my fingers between hers or the back of my palm on her face, feeling my gaze. There was a very strong bond we both could not deny or explain. During past breakups, I would express how I need her or at least I would welcome her to change her mind. But I’m not in that place now.
“We don’t know how this will all end,” she said.
“Good vibes,” I said, “Be free. I’ve let go.”
“I’m not ready to face your magnetism,” she said.
“I’m not ready to see you yet either.”
And you know two people can’t be avoiding an attachment if it wouldn’t be a threat to present aims. We can’t be in the same patterns that broke our previous relationships, we both need to get better. Maybe we already are. People usually know they are at their best when they have found their love language for every relationship including with the self. Freedom is probably the best love language for ours.
We all need to define an intricate web where we can feel our self-creation most fulfilling.
And we both need to adopt personal missions that include loving the self: A love-mission.
“I respect and care for you deeply, and also love myself more because of you. That may be the greatest gift I have ever gotten,” she said.
The connection is utterly palpable. The well wishing so sincere. You wonder if souls ever mind bodies or distance or time to be loving so completely.
In the end, even if we start with broken motivations and their ill effects, if we insist on making the experience transform us for the better, it will.
I’ve told her from the beginning, “I have decided that you will only transform my life for the better no matter what happens between us.”
And it did.