Love is an infinite thing. It cannot be used up, like a cup of sugar, and if you nourish it, it multiplies like a rabbit family. A soft, cuddly rabbit family, with floppy ears and adorable feet…
Okay, let’s try this again without the rabbits, shall we?
When it comes to love, I find it much easier to think about in abstract than specifics. Even though I believe it is endless and exists in myriad varieties, the truth is that I am not really with being on the receiving end of it. I know I am loved by various people, because they tell me, and I know I love several people in different ways but, in truth, emotional entanglement is a minefield I prefer to try to avoid. I’ve broken off relationships numerous times when my partner declared they loved me because I didn’t want that sort of emotional entanglement, and it is why I try to stick with platonic friendships and friendships with sexual components (if things move in that direction.)
That’s not to say I don’t let every relationship find its own level, and (all evidence to the contrary) it doesn’t contradict with the way I practice polyamory. For me, poly- includes the love of friends, and the love of friends-that-are-chosen-family, and I have much more of that in my life than the romantic kind. In fact, currently I have romantic love for two people (my husband and my on-again/off-again partner of 26 years), while I love at least a dozen other people as either friends or chosen family and I really do prefer it that way.
Having said all of this, what of self-love? Well, I find it as difficult to love myself as it is for me to fall romantically in love with someone. While I know other people find me lovable in different ways, it is hard for me to see myself as a deserving recipient of those feelings, and even harder for me to comprehend allowing myself to love myself. This roadblock means that my Dark Flame work does not come naturally – I have to work at it every single day. Every baby step I take, every self-love or self-care goal I reach is hard earned and takes an amazing amount of control to do. I prove how much willpower I have every time I brush my teeth, or wash my hair, or go swimming because none of it is effortless for me, no matter how I joke about it. I constantly battle myself over tiny acts and almost never feel that I’ve won because it doesn’t get any easier.
Since self-care is such a big part of my religious practice, I’m basically doing all of the acts without believing that I am worth them being done. It’s -praxy rather than -doxy; I care for myself because it is necessary on my path, and not because I believe I deserve the care itself. As I continue, I hope to one day get to the point that it comes naturally.
This, from the woman who hasn’t brushed her teeth in three days.