– By Natasha ZA

During the latter half of 2016, I found myself losing sight of certain goals, losing a sense of reality I had created for myself. This part of my life is something I call “development” or less eloquently “the search for tash, wherever she may be”. Jhanvi’s post last week on self-love definitely resonated with me, as I am sure many readers would agree, we have had periods in our life where self-depreciation is paramount – lacking confidence in our journey. I just want to touch on the point she makes about “dating yourself” because it was worded so well, I couldn’t have put it better myself. So, the period where I found myself ‘developing’, I felt real anguish, stress and pain and the search for the right relationships in my life took a backseat as I focused on ‘figuring my shit out’ – what does that even mean!? And so, right here, dating myself and self-love kicked in and a (beautiful) phoenix arose from the ashes.

Well saying a Phoenix rose from the ashes makes it sound like it was elegant, I can assure you that wasn’t the case. Suffering around which direction my life was taking me, I needed a huge break, a break from my little London bubble, the people who surrounded me and more importantly the worry of being with that one person, the worry of a romantic relationship. Luckily I went to Hawaii and where else can you find yourself if not there? Upon arriving in Hawaii I began reading the “The Road less travelled” by M Scott Peck, it had sat on my bookshelf for a little while yet prior to my trip until I read the blurb and it stated “perfect for new year spiritual growth” – AH BINGO! Positive vibes tash, positive vibes. Reading this book on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii let me switch off from deepest insecurities that framed my old environment, by “digital detoxing” and taking a step back from normality, I was left with my thoughts and boy did my mind race 1000mph. The road less travelled gave me the opening to start questioning the nature of relationships, namely the existence of love. The book was split into compartments all surrounding the nature of spiritual development but the chapter that I was eager to reach was “Love”. Peck denounces love as a feeling but rather an activity or an investment and love is thus defined as “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth”

I assumed that my interest around love and relationships had diminished in the last year or so however as friends asked for advice and looked to me to give them solace, I discovered that my interest had invested itself in a different direction. Rather than searching for the perfect concept of love and holding it as a shining beacon, I began to care for myself a lot more, dissecting the stereotypical concept of what love was and assigning it a new meaning. The love, or the duty to love myself became more apparent and as I realised my self-worth, I felt more aware of the capacity to love someone else. My ego ridiculed the thought of romantic relationships, my conscious fed me the idea that the only real love is derived from the maternal and paternal bonds created during early childhood years… yet my unconscious sent me some signs… go with your gut instinct, let go!! (Just wanted to get a tiny bit of Freud into this, not sure its fully materialised here but whatever). Peck had taught me, that I had to delay my gratification, I had to sacrifice my present comfort for future gains, so although I wanted love to gratify me there and then, I knew that to build a stabilised relationship, I had to invest care and ensure that I truly knew myself. The road less travelled fed the hungry learner within me and when I reached home I wanted to write to the amazing psychologist who had allowed me to develop my mind however when I reached home, I discovered he had passed years back. This is dedicated to him, his teachings and the reason why I thought that I had to either give up or fight for something I truly wanted.

For the fear of this sounding like a gushing love letter, I won’t go into too much detail of how gut wrenching my feelings were but I will give you a flavour… ever felt like you are going to be sick with anticipation? Or your heart pounding in your throat? Or the feeling the rush of blood going straight to your head… although Peck mentions that “falling in love” didn’t align to real love, my physiological responses deemed that incorrect. I felt it in my body before my mind even realised what had happened and that sickly feeling I had, followed me until I told myself I had to make peace with myself, accept that this relationship was my priority. He was that one person who built me up, not brought me down, who challenged me, who gave me food for thought, who inspired me, who advocated my independence, who treated me as an equal. And for me, what else is a loving relationship? It is a journey people take, allowing them to be themselves but growing together- independently, having their own hobbies, having shared interests, eating together, sleeping together, building a bond that allows the other to breath, to let them live their life without judgement or disdain.

So perhaps, for this case… (mathematicians don’t hate me)

1+1= 3

The life you live.

The life they live.

And the life you form together.

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