I stare for a long time, trying to discern the color of my grass. I consider the cliché about “the other side.” Time passes and distance helps me take in more of the view. I notice a crack across my vision. I pull away the pieces of the broken lenses – green in color – revealing the brown, weary, thirsty grass that has invaded my lawn. I wonder who had put it there. What horrible gardener had duped me into paying for such a mess? I look down at my hands, covered in callouses and soil, holding remnants of green lenses.

How could this be happening? How is this my lawn? How are these my hands? I look at my reflection in the side of my car and don’t recognize the woman staring at me. For a moment, I consider rushing to find superglue and frantically repairing my lenses. But then I come to the realization that I’m trying to deny what I truly desire by reciting an old cliché designed to help me be grateful for what I have (or fear losing what I know). I look at my reflection once more and the woman has shifted – no longer looking down, slumped with the weight of the world on her shoulders, but looking at me eagerly, with fire in her eyes.

Lovingly Limited
Growing up my family was solid: two parents, a positive environment, and a family dinner every night. We did everything together and were very close. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized some of the karmic lessons that my family was here to teach me. We shared love, definitely, but:

In my family we did not say “I love you” and were not physically affectionate, which to me was totally normal.

I wasn’t consciously aware of my resistance to expressions of love and affection, although I did notice that if someone touched me I would recoil. As most people do, I married a man who mirrored my family. He was kind and easy going, but generally distant, wasn’t terribly affectionate, and did not tell me he loved me. Even though it felt normal to me, part of me ached for more, and I often pleaded for more attention and to be told that I was loved. My pleas were not answered, and ultimately I repressed my need for love.

I told myself that intimacy was overrated and that romantic love, a passionate connection, and shared spirituality were the lies of Hollywood.

Screw the movies, I wasn’t getting my hopes up. The relationships I observed in my life confirmed my suspicions, as I never once saw a couple who lived a relationship I would have wanted. I accepted that unfulfillment was what I should expect. Deep inside, though, I knew I had a tremendous capacity to love, I just didn’t know how.

The School of Love
When I was starting my last semester of college, I took out a calendar, looked at when I would be graduating, selected the Monday after graduation, circled it, and wrote “start work.” I also created a vision board of the career I felt would fulfill my purpose. Two days before graduation I responded to an ad looking for someone to help run a life coaching business for teenagers. I met with the woman, and her story was that the Teen Center had been open for just two months when her business partner had to move out of town due to family medical emergencies. I agreed to become her business partner and started running the Center the following Monday – the day I had circled on my Calendar five months earlier. Better yet, this is exactly what I had put on my vision board.

My business partner was unusually loving and expressive to everyone, especially to me, to the point that it made me want to gag. I didn’t know how to react when she wanted to be in my space or when she told me she loved me.

If my own husband didn’t tell me he loved me, how could I accept it from anyone else?

She made me very uncomfortable, however, deep in my core I knew I wanted what she had.
I learned a great deal through the experience of running that company; to my surprise my greatest lessons were that of love. Through intimately interacting with the families I coached, I observed love in ways I had never seen. I opened myself to being more affectionate with friends and even hugging my clients. I surmised that with so much love in the world, there had to be a man who could love the way I wanted, and for the first time I allowed myself to believe.

Opening to Love
I knew not what the other side would hold for me, but I was certain that I had to leave my side – before the temptation of self-denial and colored lenses crept up in the night. I made a “list” as well as a vision board of the aspects of the enlightened relationship I was determined to have and the man who would complete it, all the while knowing deeply that there is a difference between “in love” hormones and genuine compatibility.

And so began a rapid unraveling of my life – one in which I had the end of the string in my hand and was running like fire. After dismantling literally every part of the life I had created, my cloak had been unwoven and I stood revealed and refreshed (and, well, naked), in awe of my own freedom and in integrity with my true self.

I continued on my journey of self-rediscovery and opening myself to love. And then one day, my vision materialized and I understood for the first time the meaning of the word Fate. My business partner heard from her former partner, who had also ended his relationship, and he was interested in discussing working with the Center again. When Joeel came to meet us that day it was as if the planets aligned.

We had one of those connections that six months earlier I would have been scoffing at.

To my shock, here it was right in front of me: a man who shared my passions, my visions, my dreams, who was chivalrous, compassionate, giving, loving, affectionate, and intimate. Within several months we had both, ironically, decided to move on from the Center and were developing plans for our own business, as well as our relationship.

Is This Love That I’m Feeling?
One day I pulled out my “list” and sure enough Joeel matched everything on it. Turns out he had a list of “non-negotiables,” as he called them, and not surprisingly I matched everything on his list as well. I truly never would have expected that I would actually be living the enlightened relationship I depicted on my vision board.

We like to joke and say that we “started the same business, just not at the same time.”

My journey to love is one that was written into the purpose of my soul. Without the overbearingly loving business partner, I would never had been prepared to accept being loved so completely by my life partner. Had I not experienced limited expressions of love, I would not have had the contrast with which to so clearly see what I truly wanted, nor would I be experiencing the depth of gratitude that I have for my lessons on love.

My grandmother told me that in Judaism they have a term that explains who he is to me.

Becheirt: inevitable, destined, chosen by God.

I have a word that explains how it feels to live an enlightened relationship and finally feel ready to unleash my love on the world: wonderful.

Author's Bio: 

Natalie Amsden is a Transformation Coach, Author, Publisher, and Public Speaker who has worked with thousands of people seeking to live a life of purpose and genuine relationship with their true selves, others, and their world. Her background includes being the Director of the Adolescent Life Coaching Center, a counseling center for at risk teenagers and their parents. She is the Publisher of Transformation Magazine, an empowerment magazine that focuses on personal growth and spirituality. She is also a public speaker and leads workshops and retreats on Practical Spirituality, Finding Joy, Discovering Your Purpose, and Enlightened Relationships. www.SuncoastTransformation.com