Love in All the Wrong Places
Finding love instead of disappointment
We’re told we’re looking for love in all the wrong places. It certainly feels that way when the love we’ve found has been so much less than what we needed. A lifetime of disappointment and disappointing partners adds up. But what if the problem isn’t that we’re searching in the wrong places but that we’re searching at all?
I’ve been single for a while now — long enough for the last attachment to release, long enough to stop looking for the next one. It’s almost an in-between feeling except I don’t feel like I’m waiting. There’s no sense of holding onto someone who’s gone, no grasping for someone yet to come. There is only this peaceful place I’ve found where neither is necessary for happiness to exist.
Like nearly every romance, when I stopped looking for love, I found it. But I didn’t find it in another person. I didn’t find it in a new hobby or interest. I just found it.
It was here all along. In me. Waiting to be recognized. Waiting to be appreciated. Waiting, just like I’d been waiting the whole time for someone to see and appreciate me. It was there.
Suddenly, it didn’t feel so urgent to download another dating app. It didn’t seem necessary to scope out potential singles in my area. I stopped looking and suddenly felt like I was living again.
Loneliness isn’t something I run from anymore. It’s there, an often silent partner in this journey of life. I’ve felt it more times inside relationships than out of them. I don’t want to say that we’re friends now, but we’re not enemies either. It’s not a constant companion — more an inconsistent one. Loneliness sometimes visits, and then it leaves again when it’s had enough.
I’ve found that other aspects of my life have grown stronger in this time without a partner. My friendships thrive in an atmosphere where no one is biting their tongue to hold back their true opinion of my latest relationship disaster. No one is watching me, worried, wondering why I am settling for so much less than I need. Instead, there’s a sense of mutual appreciation, of enjoying the time we have together, and every past relationship — the good, the bad, the ugly — seems to fade.
My garden is growing. Not a metaphorical garden of hopes and dreams — although those also thrive here. But an actual one. I eat food grown by my hand, and clip herbs for a tea I’ll brew later. Houseplants stretch toward the sun filtering in through the windows, and I take all the love I’ve been wanting to give and spread it among them.
I wake beside a warm body. The gentle movements that indicate my wakefulness summon it to draw closer. With a sigh, he stretches fully against me, his fur warm from a peaceful night of slumber. His nose nuzzles against my chin as I wake, wanting a quick cuddle before I climb out of bed and begin to ready myself for the day. When I finally get up, he stretches once before padding to his bowl in the other room.
I chose a new show to watch, and no one weighed in on my choice or suggested something else. There was no pressure to turn to new entertainment or split the time. In fact, for days, I turned off the screen and fell into one story after another, content to read instead of watch.
When the past comes to visit, I don’t recount my every mistake. At least, most of the time, I don’t. Instead, I look with eyes filled with compassion for who I was then, who I partnered with, who I loved, and who I let go of. Loving and letting go is a strength now, a muscle I’ve had to use that I never wanted. Still, look how much love I’ve lifted and yet how lightly I carry it now.
I’m not looking for love in all the wrong places. I’m not looking for love. A new day arrives, and love is everywhere. I accept it when it comes to me. I give it freely. I send it out quietly even where it’s not wanted. I find it inside me, unfurling.
Originally published on Medium
About the Creator
Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, NewsBreak, Your Tango, and The Good Men Project. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and 3 volumes of poetry.
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