“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” ― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
Many of us spend our lifetimes painfully searching for that dreamed-of place where we are most loved. This week I have contemplated incidents from the past when I have felt loved. At times, that sense of love came from my parents and other family members and sometimes from other relationships. But there isn’t one specific place or person I can point to where I always felt the most loved.
Looking back for memories, one that has stayed with me over the years is being on a beach with my mother. I’m probably 10 or 11. We are lying on the sand and I am moving my hand through the grains of sand. I don’t remember anything we said, just a feeling of well-being. For the most part I feel like I was the light in my father’s eyes. He was a good listener and his care was genuine. My brother looked up to me as a big sister, although I am not sure I always deserved that trust.
I have two children. There’s nothing like the feeling when your child wants you and nobody else when they are little. They make you feel like you are the only person who can solve their needs. In their teenage years there were a few bumps, but now that they are young adults, I again feel how much they appreciate me as a mother. Children really help us to discover a love we did not realize was possible before having them.
These are all instances, memories of being exceptionally loved, but is that enough? What remedy is there when you long for something more, but can’t seem to find that everlasting love that you feel you desperately need? The cliché, You must love yourself before you can love or be loved by others, has been often repeated, but I think it bares looking at again. Courage is needed to live and function in a world where there are many things to fear, and it is important to have compassion for your struggles and admire yourself for what you have been through thus far.
What has helped me to do this is to picture myself as a little girl. We lived on a farm in rural Minnesota. I recall looking at photos of ballerinas doing ballet poses in an encyclopedia. I so wanted to learn to dance, but we were far from a city where there might have been classes and money was tight. I wanted to be a good student and I won a blue ribbon at the Becker County Fair for my handwriting when I was 7. Bringing back these memories, it’s easier to experience a sense of love and compassion for the little girl I was.
In Beyond Fear: A Toltec Guide to Freedom and Joy from the teachings of Miguel Angel Ruiz, he advises the following: “Self-love has to be the first goal. If you have enough self-love, you do not need the love of another person. You can enter a relationship because you want to, not because you need it. If we are happy, we do not need another person to make us happy. We share our happiness, not our loneliness.” Esther Hicks, author of Ask and It Is Given, says the most important relationship for each person is the one with their inner being.
So, it’s very possible our only true safe harbor is within us. For the most part, that feels true to me. That and a belief in the goodness of life, a deep understanding that I am loved and guided, not by one person or a few, but by the totality of life. This is where I feel most loved.