March 7, 2014

My Love Story. ~ Maya Nadeem

woman and her shadow

I have a confession to make.

It’s almost a secret. You see, my subconscious has tried its best to hide it, both from me and from others.

This situation calls for extreme measures though because now there’s this wisp of a thought-cloud that is screaming to be heard. It refuses to be contained.

Have you ever dated someone who seems to want to go shouting out on rooftops to the streets that you and they— well, you’re a thing and they want everyone to know it?

I’ve kinda stumbled into that situation.

You see, I’ve kinda, sorta, totally fallen toes over feet in love with myself, and this is the first time I’m admitting it out loud and proud. I’ve said it before, meaning it as much as I could mean at the time, which was the best I could do right then. It’s never been like this before though. This is a bit unprecedented.

I want to share my story with you, because I’m hoping that you might be able to understand.

Maybe you feel this way too?

It wasn’t love at first sight (even though I’m a total believer and supporter of the phenomenon). In fact, we’ve had a pretty tricky relationship. There have been some rough patches (FYI—that’s an understatement). It’s taken some time, which is surprising because at the beginning of my healing journey I thought it would happen instantly; all around me I heard all sorts of new agers tell me that all I needed to do was love myself.

Right, so um, to love myself I just had to love myself? That’s it? Wow, that sounds so simple.

Intellectually, I could believe it. Intellectually, I could see that they really believed it too.

Sure, I could love me, on that universal level that dictates that I also love all of humanity, regardless of what they’ve ever done or said, because of what they inherently are. On a really deep level I can love serial killers, not for how they express themselves but because I can understand that there’s some essence inside them, however distorted and perverted, that is suffering and is similar to me. We are human kin, after all.

That doesn’t mean I agree with what they do (I am also a total believer and supporter in the joy of life) or that I’m willing to condone it. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to like them at all or that I will ever want to hang out and shoot the breeze or engage them to check out their scintillating conversational skills.

Wow, I really went off on a tangent there, but you get what I mean.

At this starting point I had to ask myself: did I really actually like-love me?

By that I mean the qualitative state of both liking and loving myself: did I like myself enough to be in love with myself at that starting point?

Hell no.

I could repeat all the positive affirmations I wanted, and while it felt like it was doing something, it definitely didn’t have the magical effect of helping me sweep myself off my own feet.

Here’s when we get to the good news: I’ve put a lot of love, kindness and transformative healing into this relationship, and dudes, I am finally reaping the seeds I’ve sown.

But, um, I have another confession to make.

Sometimes I go on a healing binge.

I keep doing more and more, forgetting that in order to integrate I need to get to know who I am right now.

It’s like I’m on a rampage to sort through as many issues as I can in one go. Instead of allowing them to naturally arise I go looking for them, attacking them with a vengeance to let them know that they’re not welcome.

Beware of the enraged healer.

The down side of that is that if I’m just going full speed ahead, not giving myself a time out to take some space to breathe, I don’t actually take the time to learn who I’m becoming as I transform. I conveniently forget that I’m already who I need to be—that healing is not about becoming someone I’m not, but rather, tenderly unveiling the layers to be unabashedly naked with myself.

When I’m standing there, my soul stripped bare, how can I not love myself? This beautiful being who has finally gained the confidence and courage to show herself to me, oh… she is divine. You could even call her sublime, I certainly do.

How come I never saw her before? Oh right, because after all that self-empowerment time I’ve put into myself and our relationship, she actually feels safe with me now.

It’s because when I’m not in binging mode, I’ve invested time and effort in allowing myself to get to know me.

By taking myself out of my comfort zone and spending time with myself in situations that made me feel a bit awkward and dorky as well as just time by myself, I really learnt what I’m all about.

I wonder if Scheherazade felt this way as she wove together stories from the light flickering against the dark of her room as they played a game of dancing shadows that illuminated her walls. As she told her thousand and one tales did she bolt suddenly, feeling a jolt of excitement shoot through her body as she realized the deeper she explored the well of stories inside her the more fascinated she became with her imagination? One day, dreamily floating on the waves rippling through the tide of the sea, invoked by the power beneath her words, did she discover that each word that unwrapped from inside her had the ability to hold her enraptured and captivated by revealing her truest self?

The trick is to not get held up in the behavior of racing against time to heal my wounds, but rather to stop and check in to see where I’m at, because I’m changing all the time. It means, once I’ve discovered this map of treasures inside myself, actually enjoying the glorious thrill of that treasure rather than always pursuing more.

Learning how I most have fun with myself and the many ways I can express and create through my body’s craft, I can be truly present with who I am. I now understand what it feels like to be besotted.

My love deepens every time I make love to myself through this creative expression and it flows through me as I play the flute, prance around dancing with my hula hoop, draw scripture with my ink pen, make art with my food, paint stories with my words, meditate with the mysteries of the universe, explore energy work, sculpt and sing lyrical stories in the form of verse.

This is how I fall in love. I say fall, because it keeps happening. Being in love doesn’t have an end, it just keeps going and—this is the awesome part—I get to explore the nuances and the tributaries it expands into.

It grows like the vines that crept along the beanstalk that led to realms beyond feathery clouds in children’s fairy tales. It expands when I bring my uniqueness, that particular brand and flavor of my soul to everything I do. This includes the relationships I form by choosing friends that make me laugh endlessly and with whom I can share my life and my true authentic self.

It is present when I do volunteer work in the feeling of flowing into that raw connection to human life, where all pretenses and facades can be dropped because of the nature of the work.  It shows me that miracles happen when we allow our masks to drop.

This love shines when I share a smile with a stranger—the euphoria of feeling my whole heart light up. It smiles at me and nods when I take steps towards making a living for myself doing the work I am enamored with, work that arouses my passion and demands my full presence and attention.

Before it fully developed though, I had to take my baby steps armed with only blind faith, a concept I’d never been entirely comfortable with. As this relationship flowered I found myself liking myself more and more, till the point that it just happened as the next logical step. It’s like a law of physics… or something.

Somewhere along the way of getting to know me through what I do, glimpses of who I really am began to peek through, and had my curiosity piqued enough to want to leap gleefully with the innocence of a child into the rabbit hole.

The poetry of the union between my intellect and my heart has helped me unlock myself and in  gratitude of this gift I unwind.

I’ve finally learnt how to use my body, mind and spirit most effectively to do the things I am most enchanted by.  Like love itself, this learning endeavor is a never-ending story. That’s why my little spark of life chose to come into this plane of existence; to live, to love, to learn.

Sometimes I still get annoyed with myself, and speak to myself a little irritably (okay, so that’s another understatement). There are even times I berate myself and am not so kind. Basically this relationship isn’t flawless, and I doubt it’s ever going to be ‘perfect’. It’s okay though; I’m okay with that because every day it’s happening less and with much weaker intensity. It’s worth it.

I’m worth it.

We’re going steady you see, my shadow and me, my yin and my yang, because when we’re together, I feel completely whole and wholly complete.

Because who I am is finally able to look in the mirror and see who I was always meant to be.

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Editorial Assistant: Paige Vignola/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Image via Guillaume1966

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Maya Nadeem