“How do you know when you’re in love?” Sherri asked me. She was in a new relationship, one that seemed, for now at least, much healthier and kinder than her previous ones. But now this question rose to the surface.
If those previous relationships, when she thought herself in love, seemed now so wrong, did Sherri really know what love was and had she ever experienced?
A lot of us have those thoughts.
I have fallen in love and when it’s ended, I’ve looked back and wondered, was that love at all? Or is this new feeling with this new man ‘real love’?
Years ago, as I struggled through devastating depression from a break-up that in many ways broke me, I told Carolyn*, my counsellor, that I had loved that man. We had been together for only a month or two but my love was as real to me as the river flowing through the city where I now live.
She laughed aloud saying, “Lucretia, you can’t fall in love that quickly. That wasn’t love. Love takes time to grow and take hold.”
Her incredulous response showed how far I had strayed from her reality. She later told me, post-session, that she was separating from her husband. Did that create her cynicism or had it always been there? She helped me process my grief but our perspectives on love remained in opposite hemispheres.
How do you know when you’re in love? For me, love has sometimes created fear. When I’ve said those words, “I love you”, I have cried for the fear of it – the vulnerability of saying those three words has felt devastating because in that moment I feel like I have given my power away. I have given them the power to hurt me and the thought of the possible pain that might result has terrified me.
Other times I have been in love and it’s felt like freedom. When you haven’t felt it for a while – months, years – to realise it is still possible, well, that is joyful and heart-expanding. The man in question may not even feel the same in return but that in some ways doesn’t matter. It is more important that I feel it and it opens me up to feel more.
How do you know when you’re in love?
It’s not cerebral. You don’t think love. Years ago, a friend told me that you could choose who you love. It was a conscious choice that she decided, or not. Her determination that she could control something so ephemeral as love was, to my mind, ludicrous and insane. You cannot choose who to love. Love visits of her own accord. And when she leaves, you cannot force her to return. Ask anyone who has chosen to leave a partner they once adored with their whole heart. When love departs you can look for it under every rock and in every basement, behind the tins on the shelf and in every crevasse of your life. She may hide for a while and return, rarely. But if she has gone, you cannot force her return and you cannot force your heart by sheer strength of will to comply with your mind’s demands.
No. Love is not a logical determination and it takes many forms. It can be violent in its intensity, throwing you down and dragging you far from shore, far from what you believed and who you thought you were. It is often uncomfortable because it is a risk: what if it’s not reciprocated? What if he leaves? What if he cheats?
You can try to resist but your heart will want what it wants and won’t be denied by rational reasoning or sensible caution.
Love can creep up on you, springing out yelling, “Surprise!!” like friends at a birthday party. You will feel disoriented. How did I get here? Can I get out? And then, hang on, I’m in.
I have been lost and found by love, destroyed and created through love, expanded and restricted by love. It is explosive, gentle, violent, passionate, quiet, confident, nervous. It is all those things and more. I have been in love many times and they have all been real and different and all valuable as part of my life’s journey to discover the person I am constantly becoming. Whatever your experience of love has been, it was real and you did feel it. It didn’t look like what anyone else thought it should, but it’s not supposed to. Take what you learned from that love and bring it forward with you to the next love. Most importantly, know the feeling was true and it was yours. And that is how you know you were in love, because you felt it.
If you have to ask, “Am I in love?” then you are not yet fully in it. Love may be outside the door, or she may not visit at all. But you will know when she comes.
Whether that love will result in a healthy relationship, is a question for another day. *all names have been changed.
If you have a question about love, managing life, relationships, living the life you want (not the life others think you should live) and making choices, visit DearLucretia.com and ASK ME ANYTHING. It’s time to take the filters off and have a real conversation about life.
It’s a cold winter’s night in Brisvegas and I’m at a loose end. I’m a single woman living in the time of Corona – when dating is challenging and socialising hasn’t quite returned to normal.
I’ve done my daily scroll through the dating apps and still feel uninspired. Why do so many men have a strong penchant for bushranger-style facial hair and scowling demeanours? Who told them this is attractive?
Clearly my true love is not online this evening.
I decide to do a little romantic personal development and pull out my friend Carolyn’s book, Finding Love Again. I finished reading it a few weeks ago but I skipped over most of the exercises in the back.
The first part of the book contains personal stories of men and women who have lost and then found love again. With a strong emphasis on common values as the glue that makes relationships work, people share their experiences of divorce, being single, grief, children and much more. It also explores what each of them learned on their journey to finding love again.
But it’s the end of the book with its self-reflection exercises that I turn to tonight, specifically Exercise 6 – Your Story which centres on the problem of how to talk about yourself when you first meet a new potential date.
I’ve joined some online speed-dating events recently and been faced with the challenge of describing myself in an interesting way to a complete stranger in two minutes via Zoom. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Carolyn has a suggestion about how to approach telling your story, so I decide to give it a go. It seems I need to go back and map out the most interesting and significant events in my life so far, from birth.
Perhaps this is going to be a rather short story…
No. I’m doing this – you never know what gold I may discover to fill those awkward silences on my next date.
Carolyn suggests you create a table and for each year, jot down things like where you were living, what you were doing, an achievement, a people thing, a funny thing, little known fact. You don’t need to fill every box for each year, just put in anything noteworthy that springs to mind.
Obviously being born was significant for me but I’m not sure if that’s something I need to highlight on a date. Fast forward to late primary school though and I won a prize for one of my oil paintings and got my picture in the paper – that was pretty cool. I still have the newspaper clipping somewhere – all skinny legs and gaunt-faced cheekbones. I was one of those kids who ate and ate and never put on any weight. Pity that didn’t last post-21…
Back to the task at hand.
Two memorable moments from my under-graduate degree – watching a disturbing German film where the female protagonist had all her teeth pulled out and sitting behind some Goths and their pet rat in a lecture.
Got married, traveled overseas for the first time and my love affair with Italy truly began. Repelled down five stories of the children’s hospital with the police special emergency response team – as you do.
Went overseas for a second time – yes, Italy again and I still loved it. Left marriage and traveled solo overseas, felt fearless and free. Watched the moon rise above camel trains in the Sahara.
Bought a house, worked with judges, zip-lined with gibbons through the jungle, published a book…
I could keep going but I don’t want to reveal everything before we’ve met in person, dear reader. But I’m sure you get the picture.
I know this is meant as a dating preparation activity, but I think it has value far beyond that. Revisiting your history and recognising your achievements and the events that have shaped you is a great thing to do at any time. When we get stuck in the daily grind and pressures of life, we often forget just how far we’ve come – this exercise is a great way to remind ourselves.
As I read back over my story, I have a laugh to myself and realise Carolyn’s words on page 238 ring very true – “this exercise demonstrates how uninteresting your previous break-up is in the totality of your life story”.
Many years ago, I went through a truly treacherous break-up. I gave my heart completely to someone who couldn’t sustain the love he said he felt, so he left. What followed for me was a rapid spiral into quite frankly, the darkest depths of hell with all the devastating pain, heartbreak and depression that accompanies such an experience.
A month or so after the end, I sent him a copy of my first ever manuscript. I don’t think I had shared it with another human soul at that point. For a writer, it is a deeply personal and vulnerable thing to do. It was posted a couple of days before Christmas Day, and I imagined him reading every page. Knowing him as I did, I doubted he would be able to stop himself.
He never acknowledged the receipt of that manuscript. In fact, he never acknowledged I existed from the day he ended things. From passionate love and planning a future to vapid emptiness and nothingness the next. These days, they call it ghosting.
That first manuscript was my first book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated, and the events in there occurred long before he entered my life. Yet still, I wanted desperately to have his acknowledgement of my work and a sign that I had mattered. The sign never came.
Interestingly, as a highly-sensitive psychic, I could feel that man long after he had physically departed my life and cut contact. Sometimes I had visions of what he was doing, other times I just felt it. The energetic connection was impossible for me to break for many months, and believe me I tried. When you read online about these types of connections, many describe them as twin flames. Considering I have variants of this ability whenever I am heart connected these days, I would dispute this broad brush and frequently overly-romanticised description. And for those of you out there, longing for a twin flame type connection, I would say strongly and clearly, be careful what you wish for because it’s not easy and it’s sure as heck isn’t fun. To be connected to another soul in this way and not have the understanding of what is going on or how to disconnect from it – as I didn’t have at the time – can drive you to the edge of madness.
Fast forward a few years, I’m now editing my next book. Surprisingly, it’s a collection of poetry based on that relationship, and some romantic connections that followed. It covers the energetics of that experience, the heart-wrenching devastation it delivered and how I made it through to the other side. So much of my memoir-writing seems to focus on the dysfunction and pain that can occur in relationships and this book is no different. However, the energetic overlay makes things much more complex to navigate. It’s been a journey.
Recently, I found myself thinking about sending him that first manuscript. I thought about the cruelty of his behaviour and how I seriously lost my way during that time. I also thought about how, through my poetry, I can see the gift his abandonment gave me. I could not write in this way if I hadn’t experienced what it truly felt like to be emotionally annihilated.
My poetry isn’t light-hearted. It’s more hit you in the chest realism than joy and light imaginings.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m still not sure about that one but there is something I know for sure, all that pain has made me a stronger writer.
You cannot survive the fire without scars but you can channel your pain into art that will hopefully help others to express their own, and then move on.
If you’re ready to share your story with the world, check out Storytellers Anonymous. There are people out there who need to hear what you have to say.
A while ago, someone said I was brave to go my own way and not have children when society puts so much pressure on women to do so. She met her comment sincerely but I soon disabused her of the notion that I had made my decision as a form of conscious rebellion against the establishment.
I am a feminist certainly and proud that I don’t fit into the traditional female mode. But I did want children once.
I was married to a man in my 20s but I never wanted them with him.
Then in my 30s I found myself single by choice and occasionally yes, I did think about it but not in any way that I was willing to take concerted action on.
A couple of months shy of my 42nd birthday, I met a man I truly thought was the one – the one for me. I fell completely in love. He was younger and it soon became clear that not having children was a deal breaker for him. He wanted them but at that point in the relationship, I wasn’t sure.
We took two weeks apart for me to work things out. He didn’t want either of us to see anyone else during that time. He said he loved me. He said he was devastated and didn’t know what to do.
I saw a powerful energy healer during that break and through that work I quickly realised I wanted children. I wanted them very much and I wanted them with the man I loved.
Imagine my surprise when I conveyed this news to him and he didn’t believe me. He knew me to be a woman who didn’t lie and yet, he said he couldn’t believe it. He said, “Even if you mean it now, how do I know you won’t change your mind later.”
He ended it and I never saw him again.
He never acknowledged me again. It was as if I no longer breathed. Perhaps I had never really existed at all for him. He certainly found it very easy to deny any love he had felt for me.
I fell into an abyss of grief that took years to recover from. I was suicidal at one point with feelings of loss so deep I thought there was no bottom to the well I was drowning in. I just kept sinking.
Eventually, I did float to the surface and find my feet in the shallows again. But by then it was too late for children. My fertility ship had already drawn anchor and wind was filling its sails. I wasn’t in a position to do it alone financially and I didn’t want to do it without the one I loved anyway. So that was that.
Later I asked a powerful psychic why the Universe would treat me so cruelly. Why would she finally give me the understanding I wanted children of my own at such an age only to rip that possibility from my hands.
She said I had needed the healing to unleash my creativity – a woman’s creativity is born from her womb and the energy healing I’d done had cleared the blockages. I could not do what I’m here to do, create what I am here to create, write my books and so on, without that shift occurring.
I don’t mind telling you, the whole thing seemed very cruel indeed. And I was not gracefully accepting in the face of it. I raged at the light.
But the creativity surely did flow more strongly after that. I wrote extensively about the relationship and break-up in prose before being called back to write it in poetry, of all things. More than 230 poems resulted, all written within about a year. I was on the edge of publishing that work when Corona hit. The Universe has her own timing in mind again it seems.
Someone asked the other day how I get along with my Spirit Guides. The truth is, I’ve had a troubled relationship with them at times. They guided me back to that man twice when I thought about leaving, before I got in too deep emotionally. But they urged me to return. I know now he and I had unfinished business from several past lives and the unleashing of my creativity was all part of the plan in this one.
In my darker moments at the time I wasn’t always grateful for that.
Our guides are here to look after our best interests and help us to learn what our Souls are here to learn. Through that relationship I learned I was clairaudient, I learned I could remotely view someone without even trying. I learned there is no stronger psychic connection than between two people who are bound through the heart. I learned I have the ability to see past lives and see those same patterns repeating in this one.
I learned that Souls have free will as well as lessons to be learned. So you can only plot your way forward with the knowledge you have in this moment until something or someone chooses something different.
None of it makes sense and yet it also makes perfect sense too.
As a psychic channel I feel things deeply and that isn’t always easy. I also see a lot more than sometimes others would like because I can’t simply turn away from a Soul’s truth when I see it in front of me. This makes it difficult for people to be around me if they wish to hide from themselves.
When I help people by using my gifts whether it’s a friend struggling with a problem or a client struggling with direction, I always come back to one inescapable thing – what does their Soul want to do? What is their truth? And then how can we peel back all the stories and energetic blocks that get in the way of it.
It’s powerful work and people need to be ready for it. But, oh, when they are, that is when the magic happens because anything is possible.
In past lives I have been burned at the stake, pursued, murdered and lived in fear of my gifts. In this lifetime, I have walked through metaphorical fires many times when it comes to the truth and my psychic gifts.
Nothing happens by mistake. There are no coincidences and it was no coincidence that I met that man all those years ago. It was no accident that he broke me in fundamental ways so I could rebuild myself in a different form.
It was no mistake that my creativity has flourished since.
Whatever challenge you’re facing right now, it is not a mistake. It is part of your lesson. A lesson your Soul signed up for.
If you need help to navigate your way forward, get in touch. You don’t have to do it alone, I’ve been there and I know the road out.
A lot of us have been struggling with love and matters of the heart over the last few days. I’ve had so many conversations with friends about loving the wrong people, putting yourself out there and being rejected, trying to work out how you feel and then how the other person feels, losing your cool, saying the wrong thing, feeling disappointed then happy within minutes, and so on. It’s been a veritable emotion-filled quagmire with many of us trying to lift one foot out of the mud one excruciating step at a time, only to take another step and get sucked back in again.
There’s probably a very good reason astrologically why this is all happening now (astrology friends feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below) but that’s not my area of expertise.
However, as someone with a PhD in Heartbreak, I can say that I am very experienced in matters of the heart, and the joys and devastation of loving people who don’t quite fit, run away, are too scared to tell you how they feel or are just wrong (even when you think they’re right!). I can’t say my experience has necessarily made me any more successful at navigating romantic relationships – heck, I’m currently residing in Italy, the most romantic country in the world and I’m single so you do the math! But I have learned some things over the years:
Falling for someone never happens as you expect it will and your feelings will invariably take you by surprise.
They will rarely match the template you have created in your head for the perfect partner. Often they will look like the exact opposite of what you thought you wanted.
You can meet them in the most unexpected places and sometimes your attraction to them will hit you immediately, right in the middle of your chest. Other times it will grow silently before one day rearing its head up like an asp at midnight, striking you in the middle of your chest and.. and… oh sorry, I just had a flashback, please disregard.
Sometimes they will be older or younger than your mind thinks they should be. When this happens, remember it is the person that you are loving not the date on their birth certificate. Obviously, they need to be above the age of consent. Also consider that the years between you also equal life experience and that can sometimes cause issues.
Sometimes you will take a chance but they will not love you back. You will keep hoping but they won’t change their mind and you will feel terribly hurt. You may even lose their friendship when this happens.
You can’t make someone love you back – that is an impossible request of anyone because love cannot be forced or manipulated into being. It just is, or it isn’t.
If someone doesn’t love you back then they don’t deserve you. Full stop. No returns on this one. Don’t keep throwing yourself at them hoping that, one day, they will finally see the magical amazingness that is you. If they can’t see it, then it’s not your job to help them open their eyes.
When you fall for the wrong person and they treat you appallingly, it is vital that you learn from the experience so you don’t repeat it!!! Too many of us go back to the same type of guy (or girl) over and over again and wonder why we get the same results. If you see there is a pattern, change it so you can get a different result. If you can’t see the pattern, ask an honest friend or an impartial counselor for their input.
Bottom line, most of us will at some stage have our heart broken. But you will survive it, I promise. You will go on to love someone else and maybe, just maybe, if the planets align and you hold your head in exactly the right position when you wish on that next shooting star, they will love you back too.
Until then, be kind to you and love yourself. That’s the least you can do and is completely what you deserve.
In the back of my first book The Men I’ve Almost Dated, I included some poems from my next book, The Madness of Love. The poetry collection is best described as an enticing concoction of reality, fantasy and other-worldly insight. It asks the reader to find the line between madness and love. I’m now curating those poems for publication. Here is another one entitled Egg on Her Face. Can you relate?
Focus on the feelings you felt, she said Not the man you know who gave them But when I did all I could do Is think of the man who raised them
I realised then The drama created Was always derived from me My expectations of being trampled on Let my fear run away with me.
All I wished for now it seemed Was his stillness and his light The feeling that all was well Of calmness with no strife
His air, just present His eyes so kind And frequently warmly smiling While making me laugh I’ve never felt so torn As I do now When I think back And realise what I’ve done I helped create the current stance In fact, I loaded the gun
He had played his part It’s true He had driven it home But I, oh God I couldn’t believe Just what my fear had done All was well Until I lost My way and all perspective And then all he and I could do Was drown in the invective As we rocked from side to side Carried on unsteady waves Of fear, anxiety, never confidence I behaved just like a babe
He had called me so naïve Was that for trusting him But perhaps my real issue Was actually me, not him
He had turned away from me Because I did not stand I had not yet put myself first Fear had the upper hand I did not stand in my power I was quite simply Just all over the place The thought that I had caused him pain Simply left me with egg on my face.