Over the last few months I’ve been learning to “open up” more… it reminds me of the quote that goes something like this…in order to experience love, your work is not to look for love but to seek all the ways in which you have closed off from love.
I was very closed from love. It wasn’t something that was comfortable for me to experience. I had closed myself off for fear of getting hurt… and the funny thing is… I was more hurt because of not experiencing what I really wanted… close connections with others. It’s a lonely world when you can’t allow yourself to open up and experience love.
It’s something I’m working on constantly, to allow myself to be and to truly and fully accept myself. It’s not easy…because the world is so quick to point out our flaws. And we are our own worst critic. We see the flaws and not the beauty. Others see only our flaws. But in that, they haven’t seen our truth… the moments of darkness when we know we have caused our own pain and suffering… the moments of pain when we know something is within grasp but we’re too scared to take the chance… the moments of pure joy waiting for us, but we’re too accustomed to disappointment to allow ourselves to believe and be free to experience it.
And we retreat. Inside we know that we have retreated. Ee know we have played the biggest role in our destruction and demise. And that is a tough pill to swallow.
On this journey of life, understanding who I am, what I am here for, why and how could one person bear so much pain if there wasn’t a bigger purpose…part of my journey was to experience all of me… my darkness – the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to see. We see them so easily in others (he’s an asshole, she’s a bitch, he’s a liar, she’s not authentic)…but not so easily in ourselves.
To heal, we have to go into that darkness… and it’s not easy. We have to experience our own hate, anger, rage, jealousy. It was only through exploring these could I let them go. Because it was in understanding these emotions that I saw the real emotions – fear, loneliness, unloved, unwanted, shame, guilt… those were the emotions that were hiding beneath the surface of anger, rage, jealousy, hate. It’s not something we are taught to explore. In fact, we’re taught to pretend we don’t have them. Our emotions are here to teach us something. If we’re ready and open to learning. It’s not that love and connection wasn’t available, it’s that we’re too often too afraid to experience it.
I couldn’t love because I was too afraid. I wanted to be “saved”… by someone, anyone, to come, hold my hand and show me it was safe to love. But no one came. Even if they tried, they couldn’t get past the crocodile filled moat. I was walled up better than Berlin in the cold war.
And as I allowed myself to see WHY I was the way I was – the emotions that were underneath that, I was able to change it. And I started with apologizing to people who I cared about but who I knew my actions and coldness had to have hurt. Some welcomed me with open arms, forgiveness already mine long before I even knew I was going to ask…because they could already see past the feelings on top to the battle I was facing below, and they loved me anyway. But not everyone felt that way…
And I wanted to get angry. I wanted to retreat again. I wanted to pretend that everything was ok and that I didn’t really need anyone. That’s how I lived most of my life anyway… proving to everyone else and myself that I didn’t need anyone, that I could do this all by myself… I could just go back to that… I mean, it wasn’t all that bad, right?
Wrong. It was an angry, lonely existence and I refused to go back living that way… pretending and fake, acting like everything was ok when it really wasn’t. Acting like I didn’t need close, personal connections with people; that I needed to bare my soul to someone who I knew would understand and not judge me… of course I needed it… I am human. We all need it. Even when we’ve convinced ourselves that we don’t need it or want it.
And it hurt. I suppose we all want to be accepted and forgiven for our bad behaviour. I believe I needed to feel that hurt. And be vulnerable in that hurt. The easy thing to do would be to walk away. The easy thing to do would be to unleash the crocodiles again and retreat. The easy thing to do would be give up and see myself only through someone else’s eyes. WOAH nelly… that’s a 360! Now here’s some growth for me, and my way out of the crazy 8 – repeating cycles and patterns. By retreating it meant that I no longer saw my own worth outside of what anyone else saw it to be… so given the person, the day, the timing, the weather… my self worth could be taken in a moment if my worth was based on someone else’s perception. That’s a mind f&^% right there?
Still with me? Good… cause I’m barely with myself here.
Retreating doesn’t serve me or my higher purpose. Feeling the disappointment is a valuable learning lesson of how we can so easily hurt others and that an apology isn’t always going to make it all better. Some people will not forgive. And I realize that’s their choice… that’s their space and their right and their life. They don’t owe me forgiveness or acceptance. Some people will always judge us by the 2 seconds of our lives that they knew us… it’s how they saw us and experienced us at that moment, but it was merely one rain drop in an ocean. But we can’t change that. That part I’ve learned.
I am not owed anything by anyone. Sometimes we have to live with the consequences of our actions but not be a martyr to them… I’ve apologized and I truly mean it. I try every day to live my life in a better way. I try to be more open and honest and loving to those around me. Some days I fail. I am just human after all.
But what I won’t do is retreat because not everyone understands or accepts me. I have played small for too long in this life… and I won’t go back… I won’t go back to the walled up, closed up, shut down version of myself that I used to be. This version of me isn’t for everyone – the version that stands up for herself, expresses her feelings (I’ve learned how many people are uncomfortable with the truth). I’ve been broken open with the pain of life’s experiences. I spent most of my life closed – a shell of a person. I’d rather be raw and real and open and honest and risk being hurt than I would to go back to living protected and safe. Not everyone is ok with this new version of me.
But I like this version better. I like being more open, honest, real, me. And the biggest gifts that I take from this is to allow people to be who they are, where they are, with no expectations or obligations.
We have expectations of people… how they “should” be, how they “should” treat us, how they “should” talk to us… and we have conditions on them… if they don’t behave exactly that way, we retreat, we punish. In the end the only person who suffers is ourself.
And so, with no expectations (most days cause some days I’ll still be a human being) I step tentatively a little more into the world, who I am, as I am… knowing that I’m truly sorry for all the times I’ve withheld love and connection as a form of punishment, to my friends, family, clients. It was wasn’t intentional. I was protecting myself from the harshness that I knew the world to be.
Now I choose to move through life focusing on being the kind of person I want to be… taking action to be a better person and give back more to the world than I’ve ever taken from it.
I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.
I won’t continue to make myself suffer because of my past mistakes. I won’t wait for someone else’s approval or acceptance or acknowledgement or forgiveness in order for me to know that I am ok, that I am enough… I forgive myself for my past mistakes and for anyone I’ve hurt… I hurt because I was hurt… unintentionally pushing people away, perhaps sometimes even intentionally hurting them because I wanted them to know how it felt and maybe to see if they’d fight for me… not my best moments… some of my darkest moments. For it was in the darkness that I truly discovered myself.
I will allow others to be on their own journey without any expectations from me. And I will love them anyway. Even if they can’t love me back… because I know how much I so desperately needed someone to love me when I couldn’t love myself or anyone else.
Sometimes the coldest people are just terrified.
I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you (hopopono prayer).
PS… if you’re on your own journey of self acceptance, self love, unchaining yourself from societies expectations, you might want to join my Group Wild Souled Women