If You Seek Love Among Humans, Be As Human As We All Are
We live in changing times and our love maps don’t always guide us on a clear path, but you will find love if you stay the course
How our vulnerabilities begin
When you seek love, it hides from you. This is because your search for love reveals something missing, not something found. Love is like a teddy bear when you need comfort, it’s snuggly, and reassuring when we feel insecure. But because we are all subject to our own changing moods, demanding work, and survival distractions — our many individual needs — we sometimes drop the teddy bear in the garage, or yard, and forget about it for a time.
When we are small infants, we are entirely dependent upon our nurturers, usually our mother first and foremost. But growing up is a slow pulling away from our dependency upon others. Everyone fusses over the baby the first year, but by the second year, you and I, and most babies everywhere, are expected to be more independent.
This is not because our parents or caregivers are selfish or ignorant people. It is because they want us to survive well in the world. After several months of our total dependence on others, we learn to eat without mother’s breast. We learn to sit up and control our neck and limbs. We learn to stand, and even walk on our own mobility. We learn to ask without howling.
Necessarily, we too, are happy to be in full discovery mode about the strange, new world. As long as mom, dad, brother, sis, auntie, or nana is near enough to find when we need them.
Then we become teens and our need for individuation goes into hyper-drive. We not only seek out all new companions to give our time to, we begin to noticeably avoid those in familiar settings. This is not because we hate them (although that can happen) but because we know instinctively that to make our own lives we can’t stay overly-dependent upon home as our soul source of human nurturing.
We need the other kids to love us.
How belonging and security begins
The times of being around our peers, however, are times of drastic developments and vulnerabilities. We are creating our identities and honing our personalities. In short, we do not know who we are, yet at this critical time, we are particularly vulnerable to love.
Hormones rage, tossing us about like roller coasters. Societal messages, about being a “real man”, or a “proper young lady” abound. Cultural norms and marketing tools, on social media and elsewhere, pop up as surely as our acne, body hair, or unrelatable bumps and bulges.
Part of us wants to remain children. Part of us desperately wants to be grown up. We rebel, often against the very societal norms that plague us, but we don’t always understand why. The only constant at every age, is that the human being needs to feel love, of self, and of others, to be stable and secure.
How the outside world steers us off course
There is no such thing as a “normal” family. You may have had the requisite mother and father and one or two siblings in a nuclear family. But, no doubt, they were not perfect. Humans, always pressured as your parents were, to conform and perform, often cannot get there.
Today, the nuclear family is almost as rare as roast goose at Christmas. It’s a blast from the past, an antique model. It is neither as ancient and natural as we are told, nor is it an inviable model.
We are surging toward a world where a family can be two people of any sex and gender, couples of mixed hues and cultures, no kids, or tons of kids, no church wedding, or no wedding at all.
Our ideas about love, like small toddlers, are growing, changing, morphing into something more independent, free, and tolerant.
What cooked this rare Christmas goose, and is it a good idea to throw out something so cherished and loved that even Scrooge would recognize as vital to human happiness?
Part of our culture wars seizes upon this “loss.”
Yet, if we think about love and all the new places we can create and enjoy inclusion, acceptance and tolerance, we can see the old-fashioned nuclear family is not lost, but still very much on the selection shelf as a viable option for some.
Love is not like a Christmas goose dinner. It’s not limited to the fat on the goose, or the generosity of one provider alone. It’s not a limited quantity at all, but an infinite one.
The more love you make, the more there is to go around.
Those who might preach to you that you have to do it “the right way” are also human and struggling. The right way, in a world of change, is the way that adapts to constant change. Evolution of love, like evolution of geese, is real.
We select the juicy and domesticated bits, or at least we used to, because it was best for the time. Times change, but genuine love grows and adapts.
How to seek places where love abides
Therefore, ignore culture wars telling you what you need, instead discover for yourself what it is that allows your love to nurture, grow, and serve yourself and others in the world.
When you seek the comfort of something old and familiar, like a discarded teddy bear, you might be seeking something you are meant to appreciate and cherish, but also to let go of, if it no longer serves the purpose that it once did.
I believe that traditional marriage and family are a rational choice. I also believe that any other configuration that provides you with comfort, joy, stability and love, is also okay. The messages you get from society are often just ads trying to tell you that you are inadequate and unlovable unless you buy what they are selling.
We start, innocently enough, held tightly against our mother’s chest. This feeling imprints upon the brain and becomes a permanent reminder that we need love.
It’s not our need for love that changes, it is our conflicting needs for independence, identity, and inclusion that is in constant flux.
Finding your place amid all this confusion is challenging for most. But you belong among the world of humans, and you will find other humans feel the same way if you make the space to reveal them.
How to find yourself, and your purpose: to love
If you have not yet found love, be patient, and foremost, be kind to yourself. Self-love is the strongest and most powerful love that allows us to individuate away from total dependency on mom’s apron strings, or the illusion that only mom, dad and baby, makes a family.
Look at yourself: your passions, your strengths, your quirks, your abilities, your gifts, and your vulnerabilities, too.
Never assume, if you seek love, that you are inadequate or unlovable. Instead, find the many ways in which you are a complete individual, a functioning soul in the world, and a unique person on a strange new journey.
When you let yourself shine, and express yourself to the world, the world opens up their arms. It doesn’t happen like a fairy god-mother moment, it happens by slow degrees. There are steps forward and steps back.
There is pain, in loving others who almost never instantly feel the same thing you feel the same moment you feel it. There is also loss, and take this, too, as a sign of growth and learning.
How to recognize that you are human, and that’s good
When it does click, it’s still not going to be perfect, so brace yourself.
Love is a thing in the “now” that is somehow surrounded on four sides by a horrible fear of losing your beloved in the “later.”
Know that the beloved is also the new you and not just a new companion. Know that the “beloved” is both you and the rest of the world that you can finally feel.
You can see in all its disappointment and glory, that you are human.
We have to be vulnerable to the other, or the other cannot feel secure enough to be vulnerable with you. Trust happens slowly, and the arrival to a soul mate moment can be treacherous, dangerous, and even heartbreaking at times.
In the beginning I reminded you of your beloved lost teddy bear, or “Rosebud” sled, or whatever the symbol might be that ties you to a bittersweet memory, or lost longing for love.
You should know that love is still within you. It is only “missing” to you because you have not yet embraced, cherished, and thanked all those that put it there. In many cases, you just resent it, and them. This isn’t loving, but an insecurity that doesn’t serve you anymore. Let that part go. Hold onto the cherished part.
Think of the warmth, and comfort you knew. You can tap into it, in a healthy manner by reminding yourself that to seek love is human, not selfish, but it is definitely not a teddy bear picnic, either.
Love is work. It is the work not just of changing, evolving people, but of straining hearts and open minds. It is the hard work of a whole society too, and we make the society that we deserve.
First, remind yourself that love starts with knowing and loving yourself and your whole journey. Then, open your heart to the rest of the world, strange and scary as it is, it is the only place we have to be, and to become the humans we need to become.