Author’s note: When I wrote these pieces, I did not do the self-education that I needed to about some very problematic social justice issues in a pervasive culture of self-care. In the pieces I’ve written, I was not aware of how problematic and dangerous that white, privileged ideologies can be; and ally-ship includes taking responsibility for my role in the perpetuation of oppression, disentangling the toxicity of oppressive notions (especially in regards to healing), and bringing awareness to other white people to call out emotionally- and spiritually-bypassing culture
I wrote these articles with highly individualistic language, and cannot remove them according to Elephant Journal policy—but I hope that whoever decides to read them that has suffered from any marginalization or systemic oppression knows that I am committed to shifting rhetoric within my communities and am now involved in social organizing groups working towards a more rehabilitative and transformative culture.
It’s Valentine’s Day and I am single.
There are roses and chocolates and signs and teddy bears everywhere, celebrating love—not a real messy, aching, tender, gaping kind of love, but romance.
We sexualize love and lust and make a holiday of it. But the love that hurts, pushes, tests, and overwhelms us doesn’t feel acknowledged today, and I am missing it. I think many of us are.
So for those of us without a romantic partner, it’s important to remember what love really is in the midst of a holiday that’s come to represent only a commercialized fraction of it.
Love is hard, and it’s a choice.
It is your mother holding your head against her beating heart, where the invisible strings that have bound you together in this lifetime sprout.
It is the smell of your father’s skin. His fingers plucking a guitar. His sea-green eyes. His voice and your mother’s harmonized in song.
It is a humble presence, the pattern inside of a sunflower, the ache in saying goodbye, and the saltwater that comes out of your eyes.
It is eating French toast on a Sunday morning with the windows open, freshly ground coffee from home, a too-long gaze with a lover, a blanket fort, and easy silence.
It holds the weight of heaviness when you hurt—grounding.
It is the place where your soul meets the sky in times of bliss—floating.
It speaks to you when your spirit has been moved through the spread of your palm and fingers across your chest.
You feel it as the layer on top of the matrix of your soul, residing in your heart, holding the warm pieces together so you don’t scatter.
It is not the easy choice, but it is the choice that will ooze from your fingertips, brighten the life in your eyes, and radiate from the corners of your mouth.
Love is not these experiences, it is the person experiencing them. Should you choose it, you will find it in everything and everyone, because you are it.
Everything becomes a reflection of you.
This celebration of love—of you—should not be determined by lust in a romantic partner’s eyes, or a day of the year.
It can be now. It can be tomorrow. It can be every day of the rest of your existence. It will always wait for you, should you choose it.
The unkempt, honest, and unconditional kind of love.
The kind I choose, even though it might hurt on a day like today.
Bonus, Waylon on Maitri:
Author: Gabrielle Dominique
Images: Takumi Yoshida/ Flickr & @waylonlewis on Instagram
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
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