The first time I fell in love, I fell hard. Madly, deeply, can’t think straight love. It’s always that way the first time, right?
I lost all sense of myself, stopped hanging out with my friends, and stopped paying attention to what mattered to me outside of my relationship.
When that relationship was over and I was able to see past the fog, the thing I regretted most was that I hadn’t been able to stay grounded in who I was. Truthfully, if I had, the relationship most likely would have either lasted longer or never would have started in the first place.
But I learned. My regret taught me what I needed to do differently.
The second time I fell in love, I worked hard to maintain a sense of myself as a separate person. (Seriously hard…I was getting my master’s degree in psychology at the time, and used a class project on cognitive behavioral therapy to make sure I kept up my relationships with friends and focused on my own stuff.) But having experienced the first ache of a broken heart, I kept myself just a little too separate, a little too afraid to fall completely. That fear extended outside of my relationship and into my friendships at the time, holding me back from many people who could have been friends had I let them in..
From that relationship I learned that fear of loss wasn’t a good reason to withhold love.
Yet at the core, what I learned from both relationships was that when you stay centered and grounded, you can maintain your sense of self AND love deeply. You can love without clinging. You can let love be stronger than fear.
This morning I sat in the early morning darkness and realized that I have once again allowed fear to be stronger than love, and that my center has been off kilter.
I don’t necessarily mean in my romantic relationship but rather in my life in general right now.
The difference is that now I have my lessons to look back on, my regrets as teachers so that I don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.
The difference is that now I know the answer to all of it is to stay centered and grounded. Because when I get centered – even if it’s just for a moment of deep breathing – fear loosens its grip, I come back to who I am, and I come back to what matters the most:
Love. Compassion. Kindness. Trust. Integrity. Laughter.
And when I come from that place, there are no regrets.