Lovely Love

(A lttle delayed, however still applies :)

This weekend, we celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day. According to Wikipedia, the holiday is named for one or more Christian martyrs, though it is not known if romance was their cause. In our culture today Valentine’s Day is a money-maker; companies mass-producing cards, confectionary, flowers, jewellry and more in creative ways, all expressing “I love you.”

John Lennon tells us “All you need is love.” Fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests, today I would like to share my views of why I believe what this man says is true, but more importantly, why it is important to love yourself first.

I stand before you as a proud single woman. I have reflected quite a bit on love the past week or two in preparation to share my feelings with you, understanding that self-love is infinitely more important than partner-love. I’m not talking about narcissistic self-absorption, but more of healthy contented self-appreciation. This is the first year I feel comfortable enough in my own skin to honestly say I’m not pining away for someone to share my life, or this overly commercial holiday with. Toastmasters and other personal spiritual endeavours have vastly enhanced belief in myself, which no man can substitute.

Love means many things to many people, and is expressed in countless ways everyday all across the world. We experience love with parents, children, friends, colleagues, nature & animals, even stuff, God and the whole Universe! I suggest that since we are Nature, our instinct is to love, and we reflect and reap what we put out there in karma.

Is love enough to sustain a relationship? I can remember that feeling of falling in love; the all-consuming floating cloud nine feeling even now, can you? Valentine’s Day in such circumstances is sheer heaven to share! I believe it’s referred to the honeymoon phase, though it has no bearing whatsoever on actual sustainable compatibility.

We all have heard about how many North American marriages result in divorce, and the exact statistics are not important (mostly because Google was not helpful in locating them for me with any degree of agility)—I’ve heard around 50%, agreed? Dependent relationships end up in power struggle, and crucial communication breaks down. Valentine’s Day in such scenarios offers pressure and even pain, I can imagine. Change is inevitable. Individuals can either work at themselves, work at growing together happily as a couple, or they will grow apart and split. All too often, a couple becomes two individuals, each alone again. Even worse, two unhappy people may stay together and stagnate in fear of being alone.

I offer no judgement since, like children, relationships don’t come with a handbook. However, many have offered their perspectives in print; more relationship propaganda. One I particularly enjoyed last year was “He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt, which was adapted as a full-length Hollywood feature with some excellent advice for modern women, and attentive men. I quote ‘Calling when you say you’re going to call is the very first brick in the house you are building of love and trust. If he can’t lay this one stupid brick down, you ain’t never gonna have a house, baby. And it’s cold outside.’ And ‘Being lonely… being alone… for many people… sucks. I get it, I get it, I get it. But still I have to say that yes, my belief is that being with somebody who makes you feel crappy or doesn’t honour the person you are, is worse.’ End quote. These were amongst many other gems of wisdom. Where was this book five years ago, when I really needed it?? The author contributed to the popular show Sex and the City.

“The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman also impacted me, illuminating a different perspective of communication. Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch are all valid ways we communicate our feelings with our partners. Essentially, it is important to speak the same language, at the very least translate effectively, or efforts can be lost even when we feel we are being obvious with our partners.

I suggest self-development and two whole interdependent people coming together are way more stable long-term than two people looking for someone to complete them, their other half, in any relationship. Whether you are single or coupled this celebrated day of Saint Valentine’s, for genuine expression of feeling compassion trust and affection, I encourage you all to love yourself first by any means necessary. Experience love everyday because it’s all you need.

~Eleanor Hayward RMT