THREE YEARS AGO I sat outside in southern India with a happily married couple from the States. An intimate group of us were undergoing a three-week panchakarma, or Ayurvedic cleanse, and I had just received abhyanga, a warm, full-body oil and medicinal herbal massage.
I can still almost taste that day. The dry, clean mountain air was laced with a mixture of nearby burning incense, green tea leaves and chai; the birds sang their love songs to one another, and the flowers in the garden were so red it was as though someone had sacrificed their human heart just to paint their beauty.
Up to that point, my solo backpacking experience and study trip throughout India revealed an inner reserve of strength and flexibility I never knew I had, especially as destinations were new, my travel plans were un-etched and external schedules would tend to change on a dime.
My realized self-confidence, self-care practices and the feeling of the sun on my face all came to a crescendo in that moment, and I asked the couple, "why do I allow myself to be treated as anyone other than the goddess that I am?" Playfully the couple looked at each other, smiled and replied, "you’re right; why do you?"
Unbeknownst to be at the time, that simple, rather rhetorical inquiry would soon lead me into the arms of my strong and loving partner, Dan, whom I celebrate one year married to last month. He has affirmed that true love is the support from another to be fully oneself, in all of one’s imperfection and Godliness, and that self-love is the key to a happy and healthy external union.