I had the opportunity several days ago to meet someone I deeply admire, Glennon Doyle Melton. And because I am touched so much by what she writes and the actions of her charity, Together Rising, I naturally burst into slobbery tears when I met her:
Glennon spoke at St.Paul’s Church. She spoke about love, kindness, vulnerability, and pain. While listening to her speak, I laughed and I cried.
1) Did I find Glennon on the Internet?
Yes, Mary, I did. The Internet is a simultaneously wonderful and scary place.
2) Are you and your friends millennials?
No, Mary. I’m almost 40. But I’m flattered you think I’m that young, so now you’re my best friend.
Anywho, back to Glennon. Throughout her talk, and in the days that followed, I replayed the following quote of hers in my head:
“And I do not judge a love’s worth by how it ends. I do not. I believe that NO LOVE IS WASTED…Love is worthy of the time and sweat and tears it takes from us simply because it changes both lovers forever—whether they stay or go.” -Glennon Doyle Melton
I kept pondering that quote, over and over again, because it gave me so much comfort. It’s a comfort, for some reason, for me to know that as I look back at my relationships with the men I loved or showed love to–NO MATTER the outcome of the relationship–that was NOT wasted energy.
Because it changed them. And it changed me.
After my divorce, I waited a year to date. Once I started dating, I had two relationships back to back. I was still not healed from the pain of divorce. I was raw. I was kinda needy. And I was just wanting to love someone–to give and receive love. Like, I picture myself at that point in my life both as approaching relationships with my arms wide open, but also wanting to not let go of the man who fell into my arms.
Fast forward to today: now, I understand that there is much more freedom in love, than what I was allowing myself and my partner to experience during that time. I now understand and desire a healthy space from my partner while in a relationship. I know that for any worthwhile relationship to sustain itself, there must be both self love and love of partner present. If I practice self love and compassion, I’m much more equipped to give love away to my partner.
That’s me now. (Yay!! Yay!!) I prayed and healed and did the work to get to where I presently am. But let’s go back to that other girl, five years ago.
That Emily didn’t know these truths yet. I gave love away like it was nobody’s business. I baked cookies for my boyfriends and made mixed CDs for them and homemade lasagna and tried to twist myself into a pretzel so that they felt loved.
And when I wasn’t loved back, I was devastated.
Over the years, since this time in my life, I have thought to myself, “Geesh, you wasted so much time giving love to men who didn’t even love you. How did that work for you, Emily? HOW DID THAT WORK? Awful, Emily.AWFUL. Don’t ever give like that again to someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”
Now cue some Beyoncé music or something here.
Because BOTH of the men that I dated during that time recently reached out to me and told me:
“I realize now that I’ve never had anyone show love to me in the way that you did. You were just so ready to love me. And I didn’t understand that and wasn’t ready then. But now I am.”
The following emojis describe my reaction to that:
I said to both of them, “I’m not that person anymore. I was needy then. I was giving love away with the intention of getting love back, and that’s not even real love. I’m sorry, but I have no desire to go back to that person I was or to our relationship.”
But they weren’t hearing any of that, and so I just listened. Because they needed to reflect and remember 34 year old Emily, who was acting like 19 year old Emily, who was also acting like 12 year old Emily. I gave love because I was hungry for it.
And so I let them have their memories. They reflected on our relationships as very happy times in their lives. They remember me as someone who truly made them feel loved. And even though I’m not that same person anymore, I find great comfort in knowing I gave love away and touched someone’s life in a somewhat significant manner.
And you know what they gave to me? The gift of self love. The gift of “no.” When they told me they wanted to break up, I finally learned that I needed to take ALL that love I was giving to them, and pour it on myself. Give to myself, nourish myself, love myself. To quote the wise band, Def Leppard, I poured that sugar right on me.
No love is ever wasted. Ever. ❤️