The journey within to find my way back to love.

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Art by Giulia Rosa
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Photo by Cassie Gallegos
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Photo by Artem Beliaikin
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“Wait a second — I asked myself, observing the emotion pervading every inch of my body — How can this shame define who I am? How can it make less of me?”

I stayed a few moments with it, befriending it. I realized how pivotal the moment was: the emotion I had repressed for so long was now surfacing. For the first time in my life I felt like I had agency over it.

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A healthy relationship is when two individuated adults decide to have a relationship and that becomes a third entity. They nurture the relationship and the relationship nurtures them. But they’re not overly dependent or independent: They are interdependent, which means that they take care of the majority of their needs and wants on their own, but when they can’t, they’re not afraid to ask their partner for help.

Since I had no references in my experience of what a healthy relationship looked like, I tried to imagine how I would feel if I had a partner to come home to, go to a cool restaurant with, or to travel together. I also took inspiration from couples around me in cafés or in the street. I tried to feel what they felt, imagined myself in their shoes.

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Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.

Our most pressing duty then lies in healing our wounds around intimacy and taking responsibility for our emotional landscape. The process is a difficult one: it requires patience, persistence, courage, and a lot of mindfulness. But it’s vital to live fully.

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