After my first serious relationship I swore off guys for a long time.
I was so tired.
I felt like I was 40 instead of 20 and (even though this had a lot to do with the fact that I was crawling my way out of an eating disorder) I attributed this exhaustion to what was right in front of me—
the guy I loved was no longer in my life and I all I could feel was blinding pain.
On the surface, everything looked fine—I was dating and “putting myself out there,” but when it came to serious relationships I might as well have had a big no tattooed on my forehead.
I had built up walls so tall and strong that nobody could get close to me.And then I met someone who I really started to like.
I wouldn’t give into it at first…
but our meeting serendipitously coincided with my newfound passion for teaching yoga.
In teacher training I had been learning about how to “show up” from a space of love, rooted firmly in the present rather than a space rooted in the past, weighted by fears.
I was learning that in order to lead a life that was fulfilling and brave, I would have to incorporate these concepts into my every day life.
So I decided to let him in.
This wasn’t easy.
I used every opportunity with him as a test. If he showed up late, strike against him.
If he did anything even slightly wrong, I would tell myself there was no use, I should just leave.
But at the same time, I was trying desperately to focus on the good things: how my heart felt when I was with him (which was full), or how it felt when we kissed (which was like melting).
As I allowed myself to fall for this guy, I resolved to tell him how I was feeling—another stepping stone in my quest to learn to be vulnerable. And I got smashed.
He didn’t feel the same.
I feel things intensely: this can be both awesome and difficult.
When I fall in love, I fall hard. When I hurt, I cry like mad. When I don’t want you in my life, you’re not going to be there, not even a little bit.
But when I love you and you’re a part of my circle, I’ll go to the ends of the earth for you.
I was hurting.
I’d be fine for a few days, do a lot of yoga and keep myself busy.
But then I’d slow down for a second and, all of a sudden, I’d miss him so much I couldn’t breathe.
The sheer intensity of the experience brought forth one question: why do we do this?
The part in me that had been stomped on felt so tender, like an open wound.
I thought about how crazy we are to love people openly and honestly when it so often results in getting crushed.
I decided that letting ourselves be vulnerable to love—without any guarantees—was pure insanity.
But when I calmed down and talked myself off of the edge, I remembered something I learned from my yoga practice, and it became clear why we put up with the insanity of it all.
I love doing handstands because they make me feel brave. So brave.
We are standing on our hands after spending our entire life doing the opposite.
But we keep going. And even though sometimes we get hurt and we fall to the ground and our wrists come up bent and bruised, other times, we find a beautiful hold…one that feels like flying.
And that is what love is.
And although it may not happen often, all we need is one amazing handstand to make us feel like a soaring, strong creature of the universe; all we need is one relationship of reciprocal love to give worth to every smashed heart we’ve endured.
We are going to fall.
Sometimes it will just be a stumble, and other times it will knock the wind out of us and we won’t know if we can get back up.
But we will.
And it will always, always be worth it.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum