What is true love? Sometimes it’s hard to recognize it when you see it.
When true love walked into my life, it was not the Hollywood swoon-worthy meet-cute that filled my dreams.
Instead, love completely turned my world on its head and made me question everything— especially myself.
Before love, I spent time in nature and reading books. I biked my kids to school and went to work.
I shopped for groceries on the weekend and kissed my wife goodnight.
Any onlooker would’ve thought I had it all, but there was something missing.
I had become exactly what I was supposed to be—a “good man” who takes care of his family, goes to work, doesn’t complain, and loses sight of his dreams.
That was until love freed me.
In the summer of 2015, I met an amazing, magical woman online.
I was not open to getting involved romantically, nor was she.
I was married. Period.
As our friendship developed, it was like pieces of myself were unlocking.
Pieces I thought I could live without.
I was wrong.
Confused by what was happening within me, our bond deepened.
I felt I had met the woman I had always dreamt about, but never thought I would meet in real life (not this lifetime anyway).
I had given up on myself.
Once I was able to truly take in and acknowledge the complexity of my feelings, I filed for a divorce.
And then I broke down.
There I was, on the floor, not even able to get myself together and “man up”.
There she was, my unexpected love, taking care of me.
I had to step up.
This woman deserved the best of me. She deserved the man that I was but lost track of.
I wanted to be present for her.
A love like this can tear a man down and ignite an urge in him so powerful, that the only thing to do, is to forge a new version from scratch.
So I deconstructed the man I thought I had to be for all those years and rebuilt myself into the stronger, more authentic man I am today.
In order to get there, I had to break through old beliefs and release patterns holding me back.
Here is how I opened up my heart to new opportunities and new wisdom.
1. Trust the universe and find your alignment
When you’re facing tough choices and you don’t know what to do, all you can do is trust in something greater than yourself and align with the most true decision.
I had to choose between exploring a love I had only dreamt of or staying with my former wife, knowing my feelings weren’t as complete as she deserved.
I was stuck between duty and truth.
And even though what was true was painful for everyone, so was living for duty, which only kept everyone unfulfilled.
When you find yourself lost on your path, trust and align your actions with the truth.
When you do that, you will begin to see yourself and the world differently.
You will begin to view alleged failures or let downs as beacons along the way guiding you toward the place where you can realize all of your desires.
2. Dare to go deep and refuse to settle
When you perceive your life as an ongoing struggle (or the thing that you have to settle for), then that is exactly what will continue to show up in your life.
To break the patterns of struggle and settling, you have to go deep—really deep—to meet your shadow.
After I filed for divorce, it was incredibly hard and deeply painful. I felt shredded.
Putting my wife and my kids through the excruciating pain of a breakup, I felt so much guilt, that it almost gutted me completely.
It has been, without a doubt, the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever done in my entire life and hurled me into a physical and emotional burn-out, which is where I met my shadow.
When your shadow remains unconscious, it creates chaos in your life.
Suppressed feelings do not simply dissipate, but rather they tend to take over your conscious being, wield power over your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
There’s a great depth to shadow work, but to get started, focus on a feeling that comes up for you over and over again.
It can be from your childhood or in your current relationship.
What does that feeling mean to you? Why is it there? How is it showing up in your life?
What beliefs have you created out of that feeling? Are those beliefs true?
Does it serve you to let those beliefs go and truly work through the feeling?
Journal on this and process the emotion out until you feel complete with this.
3. Give your true love the best of you
Display your authenticity to step up for your partner.
Define how you want to love them and don’t lose focus on fulfilling this goal.
Be who you truly are, and include your yin and your yang.
Show your courage, vulnerability, and openness.
Real, conscious love deserves authenticity.
If you want to take in the amount of love your partner gives to you, you have to show them all the beautiful layers that make you the man that you are.
They need to see and feel the fullness of you.
The same happened with me and my new love.
When I was able to open up to the magnitude of her feelings for me, my whole being screamed to give her the same.
In that moment, I made a clear decision to be the man that she deserved. To become the best version of myself—so I did!
Not exactly a walk in the park.
I had to explore the parts of me that didn’t feel good—the parts of me I had tried to ignore, bury, and deny.
I had to go to my core, break myself down completely to see the man I needed and wanted to be.
When you break down your old beliefs, pull off your masks, and open your heart in new ways, you learn to love yourself and your partner in new ways you simply couldn’t before.
More importantly, it’s this work that makes you willing to be seen by your partner completely to create a deeply loving and understanding bond.
I’ve been with my new partner now for years, and we celebrate our growth every day.
She knows my weaknesses better than anybody. She knows where I will flounder and withdraw. She sees straight through me.
And, she knows the fullness and power of my love for her and for life.
This wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t do the work—and the work was not easy.
But remember that whenever you feel fearful, connect to your inner core. That’s where self-love, self-compassion, deep knowing, and true conviction live.
Then simply trust that the universe always has your back.