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“You said that the wonderful thing about falling in love is that you learn everything about that person, and so quickly. And if it’s true love then you start to see yourself through their eyes and it brings out the best in you. And it’s almost as if you’re falling in love with yourself.” Sean Connery, Playing by Heart

When my psychologist asked me years ago the words that come to mind when I think of marriage I said, “Commitment…sacrifice…duty…compromise…loyalty.”

None of these were bad or wrong, he said. But he pointed out that I did not include any positive words. I did not identify marriage with joy, companionship, trust, friendship, or even…love.

Marriage provided me with a microscopic lens to dissect my detrimental patterns in relationships. It strikes me as ironic that a seemingly permanent commitment had to occur for me to wake up and run away from my own psychosis of creating my own hell. Not until I felt bars go up around me did I feel the need to escape.

Before, I always identified through another, with another. Their life was my purpose. I merged into them, leaving behind all individuality. I sacrificed, willingly, eagerly. Subconsciously, unconsciously, I cut myself off at the knees. I was bound to fail.

All my relationships, until now, have been based in a form of resentment. I morphed myself to not only become exactly what my partner wanted but also literally to become his reflection at the loss of myself. To discard what he discarded, to savor what he savored, to judge what he judged, to mock what he mocked.

I gave of myself. I gave up myself. I gave up on myself.

At times it was subtle. Other times it was blatant. My patterns soon began to crack in front of me. My thoughts and decisions were based in the preferences, opinions, and judgments of others. Even just recently, I hesitated to make a choice because of what others would think.

I was blind. I may have, at times, seen a blurred doorway leading out of the vicious cycle but I was too afraid to walk through it. I thought more misery was waiting on the other side. Known misery is better than unknown misery.

The limbo that exists between knowing and not knowing – wishing to “un-know” what you have superficially faced or struggling to ignore that which has bubbled to the surface – is excruciating. In those moments (for there have been more than a few), I acted on survival instincts. I acted in the interest of all that I thought I was, all that I had created myself to be. But that which is built up, no matter how carefully intricate, crumbles easily.

And all too quickly, I numbed my entire humanity to preserve my ego. I know now, I did not want to witness the death of my ego. I did not think I could handle it and, honestly, I probably couldn’t have at that point. I was numb. For a long time, I was numb. I subsisted. I survived. I did not live. I began to believe that this was life, that I would be rewarded somehow for being stubborn and “strong”.

In order to grow we must embrace change, radical transformation. We cannot be the person we want to become unless with let go of who we are.

I am a watcher, an observer. I have always enjoyed studying the goings-on around me, taking in the tiniest of details and cataloguing them in my brain. Not only the apparent – this person swirls their hair, that person taps their foot – but the imperceptible as well – her smile is hiding fear and anxiety, his kiss on her cheek is out of habit and expectation.

Interestingly, never before have I watched myself. How could I? I don’t walk around with a full-length mirror following me everywhere. But I have been blind for a long time. Or, more accurately, I have kept my eyes shut tight for too long, ignoring that which confronted me. It’s actually quite easy to watch ourselves. It’s the self-analysis, the self-listening that we never want to do.

I was afraid of what I would find on the other side of the door. But to my surprise, I did not uncover another personality of the beaten and downtrodden ego but I met my true essence. I found within me a spirit – a bright spirit that had been concealed behind countless barriers – bars, doors, locks, chains. Those barriers were fear. All the negativity (fear, judgment, hatred, depression, anger) ingrained within my ego bound me to it and the illusory world that fed it.

But now I feel like I have obtained true vision for the first time. Having observed myself, my ego, as a false front, I now see and feel that it and the fear that it carries isn’t Me. It is separate from my Being. I’ve learned to watch that fear, like a cold liquid coursing through me. I allow it to exist, but I watch. And when I watch, I’m temporarily outside my body and merely feel its shivers as if I’m someone else. I am not my ego. I am not my fear. It no longer controls me. It no longer defines me.

I think this must be what rebirth and transmutation feel like. I have been transformed. I have transformed myself.

For 45 days, I have been awake, conscious. For 45 days now, not only have I seen with my eyes but also with my heart, my spirit. At the times in the past when I thought I was in love, I was. After all, my perception is my reality. However, I believe…I know now that those instances did not and could not become the True Love that exists with me now. For I had no love inside myself, for myself. And because of that, I do not believe I could have truly surrendered to love. Rather, I was only capable of surrendering, conceding to another person.

This time, this time in love, I do not identify with a center outside of me. I no longer live for a heart that’s not my own. I have freed my spirit from the illusion/delusion of the ego. All I will ever need I find within my own heart, my own center.

And his heart mirrors my own back to me. Effortlessly.

He loves me for knowing and cherishing the love, peace, and joy within myself. And I love him for the same. Reciprocity. Singularity. Union. Communion. This is True Love.

He has disintegrated the cynic and the skeptic within me. Or, rather, he has shown me that the cynic and the skeptic were mere facades – my ego. My ego has been my defense. And my defenses have dissolved in the light of his presence.

Without even trying, I’ve been a nomadic being. And now I realize that it has seeped inside of me. My heart has roamed and never found its home, its haven.

Until now.