Love is the one of the most talked about topics in history. We have the arrow shooting greek god Eros, we have mention of Love in the Bible over and over, it is in most of the songs we listen to, in Blockbuster movies….but what is Love exactly? We talk about romantic love, unconditional love, but what if we are confusing the two?
I was married for 12 years, and at the time I thought I was ‘In Love’. The first kiss was magical, like can’t sleep all night with excitement magical, then doubts kicked in after one week, quickly overridden by the joy and excitement of having someone new in my life. After a year the doubts kicked in again, but I quickly buried them with the thoughts “Hey I’m 29, all my friends are ‘settled down’ and married, if I don’t do that then there I will be perceived by society as not being able to have a stable relationship. I must overcome this.” Then marriage happened, whereby we signed a contract which guarantees that we will stay together ’till death do us part’, thus never ever having to worry about being alone again. Wow that should solve it! Years went by, and without realising it I gave up all that I loved, I lost all my friends, my family, just for the man that I ‘loved’. My life went to an all time low, until one day, a little more than 3 years ago, a thing that we are all familiar with, which we call ‘anxiety’ kept waking me up in the middle of the night.
We all refer to anxiety as something ‘bad’ and ‘annoying’ but actually anxiety is your best friend. Why? Because it is simply your brain perceiving a danger, or that something is wrong, and it’s your system’s way of telling you about it. Anxiety actually saved my life, because it is thanks to it that I let go of what was not serving me thus allowing room for all the beautiful things I have in my life right now. By befriending my anxiety and working with it, with the help of my coach and the amazing therapists I worked with, I understood myself better and was guided towards the best possible outcome in my life. I had a lot of anger towards my husband for the state I was in, but it was actually my fault as much as it was his. We both allowed ourselves to fall in a state of complete and total co-dependency, what therapists also call ‘couples collusion’. Was this love? Absolutely not. Now, after a lot of work on myself, I successfully released the anger, as it was damaging only me, and reached a place where even though we are separated, I still love my now ex-husband, I released him and want him to be happy. Both of us are doing so much better now. I am so grateful now that I met a wonderful man who taught me that there are different forms of love from those we were brought up witnessing, and I have never felt so free.
So, to sum up, I want to share with you 20 ways to know whether you might be caught up in attachment. Don’t get me wrong, it is really easy to confuse love with attachment, but by being aware of the signs you can take a step back and lessen your suffering.
- You are often referred to as the girlfriend / boyfriend / wife / husband of X
- You find yourself giving more importance to his / her needs rather than to your own
- You often give in to arguments to ‘keep the peace’
- You don’t spend time by yourself, either by circumstance or by choice
- You don’t have any other important relationships other than with your partner
- In social situations, you find yourself clinging to your partner, or tend to avoid social situations entirely
- The classic ‘I can’t live without you’ crap (this is obvious, but putting it in just in case)
- You give up doing the things you love, for him / her
- You have a tendency for dysfunctional relationships
- Depression kicks in quite often, and for long periods of time
- You are constantly worried and anxious
- You feel stuck in life (things don’t just flow)
- You have health problems (frequent illness, eating disorders, etc.)
- There is constant drama in the relationship
- You don’t have any boundaries
- You feel insecure and cannot take decisions by yourself
- Whenever you are faced with a challenge, you think of him / her as the person who will save you from yourself
- You relate like mother / father to child, or vice versa, or like children, rather than adults
- You do everything together
- You hide too much of yourself, thus living a very limited life
If you are not in such situations, great, still good to run a reality check! But if you are, re-evaluate your situation, and believe that change IS possible, I am the living proof! It is also true that most of the time you cannot go it alone, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! There is a lot of solutions out there and a lot of brilliant people who can help available!
Unconditional love, on the other hand, includes:
- Freedom to be yourself, while accepting the other person as he / she is
- Wishing the person to be happy, even if they choose not to be with you
- Doing the things you love, while allowing the other to do the same
- Supporting each other’s growth
- Taking responsibility for yourself and your actions, rather than blaming the other
- Being an adult, by healing the emotional wounds from the past, or ‘baggage’ as we normally call it
- Acceptance and appreciation of what is
- Being ‘in the flow’
- Appreciating the positive attributes of each other
- Holding on gently, rather than grasping