These days I snuggle down to sleep every night blanketed by a beautifully warm and cuddly feeling of contentment - and deep gratitude for who I am and where I am. For what I'm doing and for how my life is shaping up. Every morning I wake up with a smile on my face, and a thrumming sense of excitement for what new surprises the day may bring. And all around me, all I see is good. All the time I'm growing and learning - and now I'm finally loving being a student of life. Because I know that whatever happens, everything is working out for my highest good. Gone is the fear. Gone is the sense that at any moment I may fall - or even that I might not make it. Because no matter what happens now, I know I'm fully alive - and still learning and growing along the way.
There are so many 'ah-ha' moments happening on a regular basis - and each time this happens I now greet the experience with an inner chuckle. No more the "I should have known that!" type of response that I now realise was a constant fall-back. Nope, now my constant mantra is"thank you for helping me to accept this new thing" - whatever it is.
Last week provided me with a series of opportunities to realise something quite profound about how I'd been filtering opportunities. Last week, you see, I was shown immense kindness and love in some very different ways. And it suddenly dawned on me just how much of an issue it's been for me to accept this sort of kindness. I know, I know - it sounds a bit daft - but actually, despite all my best intentions, I've been utterly rubbish at letting people in. At allowing people to take care of me. At actually giving in and giving up to people who's only intention is to make me happy. I must have been a right royal pain in the backside to many who have tried to support and guide me over the years!
Because I suddenly realised that, whilst I honestly believed I had been happy and content with Cam, in actual fact I was never once shown anywhere near the kindness and attention that I experienced from three very different friends just last week. For years I had accepted my relationship as something special. I had accepted the way we were as being the norm. I thought I was lucky, and despite what I now know was coldness, I believed I was happy, loved, and in love. Pah! What did I know? As I look back now I begin to wonder what on earth I thought I was doing during those years. The Pollyanna approach that I adopted so thoroughly had in fact blinded me to so much more. How could I not have known that the 'love' I was being shown was nothing but a figment of my imagination? And yet I truly thought I was happy - and I am still utterly certain that I experienced true love. But I now know it came from within me and was never reciprocated.
There's a great quote that says "We accept the love we think we deserve" and you know what? I've learned that on a subconscious level I clearly didn't think I deserved very much. I thought I had it all you see - whereas in fact I was squashed and misshapen. But I'd become very used to my prison, not knowing that there was so much more that was out there waiting for me!
No wonder the lesson had to be so shocking! No wonder my whole world had to crumble away in order for me to break free. One of my French friends says I'm "têtu comme un âne" (stubborn as a mule) and you know what? He's right. I held on stubbornly to my ideal that I was living the perfect life, refusing to consider that there could be something better. OK, I guess it's kind of understandable given my less than healthy experiences of 'love' during my formative years - but I had no comprehension that I had been actually denying myself so much for so long!
Which is why last week was such an eye-opener. Small things, but each one gently pushing the lessons home. On Sunday I was collected from the airport and treated to a home-made roast dinner. And I felt really uncomfortable that I was doing nothing to help - nope, my job was just to enjoy and accept. Hmmm... tricky that one... and my friend giggled at my clear discomfort at being looked after. Then on Tuesday I spent the day with another friend who insisted we ate at a top restaurant in Covent Garden, and then went on to enjoy a musical - it was magic, and we laughed and cried together in equal measures! And again I felt uncomfortable - surely I'm meant to reciprocate? Surely I'm the one who looks after other people? How weird did it feel actually being spoiled in such a way? Thursday night I was treated to an early surprise birthday by another friend. He'd bought Happy Birthday banners, and a birthday cake with candles stating I was 21 years old (bless him!) and again I felt embarrassed by the attention. And at the same time I absolutely loved it - all three of my dear friends were gently teaching me to accept kindness and love, with none of them expecting anything in return. Weird. Uncomfortable. New. And... you know what? I love it!
And the chuckles started and wouldn't stop - I've always sought love and affection, and yet I suddenly realised that I hadn't actually known how to accept it. But because these were three trusted friends, they refused to take no for an answer, and just laid it on me. Exactly in the way that so many of my friends have shown me love and support over these past few months at the time I've needed it most. In those times, I guess, I learned to accept because I had no option - I was in a horrid mess, and without their determined interventions, I may not have made it through.
But now, now that I've made it, I'm learning to accept unconditional love and support through the good times - and this, this my friends is a whole new experience. It seems to me that the snuggly warm feeling I finally have within me is now being reflected back to me by other people. And mark my words, I'm now open and receptive to all of it - although I may still struggle at times until I get used to it!
So thank you. Thank you to everyone who continues to be gracious to me, even when I'm being a bit defensive. I'm learning, you see, and as I said earlier on, I'm loving these lessons. THANK YOU!