We are responsible for the hearts we open. We are responsible for those we love.
Man or woman, we are equally responsible.
Responsibility is a selfless service. It is the act of sacrificing one's time, one's desires, one's personal preferences for the sake of another.
Do this for money and it is commerce. Do this for sex and it is trade. Do this for nothing and it is love.
Love and responsibility cannot be separated. Otherwise, love is merely romance—only available to us when it's convenient, pleasurable and easy—but it is not real love.
When sex and love are divorced, we may experience pleasure in sensual touch, but deep inside, we are haunted by an unshakeable sense of loneliness. When love and responsibility are divorced, we lose sight of the deepest gifts that we have to give. We sacrifice presence for performance. We sacrifice compassion for impatience. We sacrifice understanding for control.
At the same time, we struggle to see value in ourselves. We convince ourselves that we are not appreciated for the things we do. We lose sight of the gift that we are.
Despite all internal conflict, we are so eager to give our love away—our attention, our devotion, our life force—to complete strangers, gurus, followers, fans, movements and good causes. Yet, we are so reluctant to give that same degree of love to our chosen partners, our parents and children.
This is a sign of our immaturity in love. Just as we did when we were young, we are still seeking to be loved first—to be seen, to be celebrated, to be praised, to be honored, to be cherished, to be held by the great parent in the sky—before we are willing to love.
Those furthest from us get our best, while those closest to us get the left overs. Because the closer they are, the more obvious it becomes that they cannot heal our wounds around love.
No one can. No one, but us.
Maturity in relationship does not mean we no longer feel the ache of unlove. We still feel all of the hurts, the pain, the anxieties, the vulnerability. In fact, as we learn to love deeper, the more we will feel. But in our maturity, as the feelings arise, we do not collapse around them. We feel the butterflies in our stomachs and straighten our spines. We feel the gripping cramp in our hearts and breathe a little deeper. We feel the tears swelling behind our tired eyes and make eye contact instead of looking away.
If we aren't numbing ourselves, these feelings are inevitable. It isn't a matter of not feeling them. It's a matter of allowing yourself to feel them, and not turning away from love as you do.
Despite the internal dialogues—"I'm just not enough" or "I'm just too much"—you give yourself to the moment completely. You make room for yourself. You allow all parts of you to be present. And because there is room for you, there is room for others. But there is no room for anyone a moment sooner.
As the feelings grip us, we stop grasping for love. We stop waiting to be loved first. We stop looking to see if we are loved before we are willing to love. Instead, we immediately turn around and offer ourselves as love through selfless acts of service to those who are nearest.
Not for money. Not for trade. Not for the promise of being seen, respected or appreciated in return. But for nothing.
Our responsibility in love is to serve one another, not in spite of our wounds, but through them.
What does the need to be seen become when it is directed as a gift towards those we love?
What does the need to be appreciated become when it is directed as a gift towards those we love?
What does the need to be held, guided, nourished, praised, ... become when it is directed as a gift towards those we love?
Do not attempt to answer these questions alone—you will never get the right answer. Answer them by feeling into the person nearest you now, and immediately offering them this kind of love.
You do not need to know what to say or what to do. Let love reveal itself to you.