I no longer looked at him with love. I used to look at him like he the was only person in the world. I got butterflies and felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
But then he hurt me. Life happened, years passed and I forgot what I once cherished. Life’s up’s and down’s, tragedies and old baggage got in the way.
I looked at him through a filter of his wrongs… all of which reminded of me old beliefs that I had forgotten when he looked at me. How had I forgotten that? I promised myself a long time ago I wouldn’t let anyone that close, give anyone that kind of power over me.
Yet, there I was. Devastated.
I forgot the world was an untrustworthy, mean, hard place and the best way to survive is to need no one. Just me against the world. But I forgot. And I got burned.
Was I really hurt by him or by being open? I always had a motto of fuck them or they’d fuck you. But my guard was down. He got in. I wasn’t in control. And now look at me.
I closed… little by little. I smiled but it didn’t reach my eyes. I acted like it was fine, no big deal, but it was a big deal. Every time I didn’t ask for what I needed, every I time said it was ok when it wasn’t, all the times I put my needs and wants on the back burner, it mattered. And now there was a part of me gone, that slid into the background without being seen or noticed. The light fading slowly from my eyes.
Had anyone noticed? I hadn’t. It became normal. I kept busy. I shut down. I moved further away emotionally even though I was standing right there, nodding and saying yes, but I wasn’t there. All I could see was what was wrong with us, what we weren’t, what we had done wrong, stacked one on top of the other then on top of the other hurts and pains from other life experiences.
More proof that the only safe way is to withdraw and withhold. Perhaps those who love me will come, beat those walls down and save me. But no one came.
The anger and frustration grew into loneliness, then bitterness. Opening was too painful. I had been hurt so much in my life that even the slightest act now could cause me to run with my tail between my legs. The proverbial rug was full, hiding decades of hurt and trauma.
The catch 22 – you need to be open to experience love, really experience it. But opening also means there’s the risk of being hurt. And I had enough pain in my lifetime.
I learned though, that pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice. Life might bring me challenges but withdrawing brings me suffering. Back then, I didn’t know or understand this. It all happened subconsciously. I even convinced myself it was fine, everything was fine, I was fine.
When the pain became too much, I sought answers. It led me on a path of self discovery, learning who I am, not the persona I created – not the fuck the world girl, but the real me. Who I was before all the stuff happened. I was so angry.
I was angry for being treated the way I said was ok to treat me. Ummm… ok.
I didn’t have the tools to understand my behaviour, why I did that. Why I pretended to not care when I cared too much. Seeking answers helped me understand that we all have reasons for doing what we do. I learned to experience my emotions and stop hiding them. I learned to ask for what I wanted, and know truly that I deserve it. And I dealt with all of the stuff I hadn’t dealt with. I set boundaries. Spoke my truth. It wasn’t easy, but I couldn’t swallow who I was anymore. Not for anyone.
People did believe I couldn’t speak up for myself because I could speak for everyone else who didn’t have a voice.
I had created an image, a persona of myself that I was living – one who didn’t need anyone, one who didn’t care, that acted like it was all fine. I wasn’t going to be “that girl” who was needy; deep down hoping one day…
I was living a version that I thought he wanted; who I thought I had to be in order to get love, get success and be enough. Waiting for prince charming to rescue me but even when he tried, I’d smash his fingers in the turret window after he climbed up.
Suffering happens in the pulling away. Healing happens in the feeling it. When we feel it, we can heal it. When it’s healed, we get wisdom from it. We learn and grow from it. The wounds become our education, when we let them teach us. When we hide from them, they can’t teach us anything. They become our triggers, our anxiety, frustration, anger, overwhelm.
And in all of that, I forgot I loved him. I forgot who and what we were. I forgot that once my knees went weak when he looked at me. I bandaged the wounds, smiled and acted fine. But the new wounds mixed in with the old ones, my old belief systems, old fears…
Love gets lost there. Things said in anger, actions, mistakes, intentional or unintentional. I forgot I loved him. I forgot to love him and us and myself.
I forgot to let go, to lean in, to forgive and love. Instead shut down and withdrew. I forgot to ask what would love do? Love wouldn’t have withdrawn. Love would have felt it all and known what to do. Fear withdraws. Love leans in because love knows that no matter what happens, it’s all for the best. Fear tells us to withdraw, it’s not safe.
I forgot to see him, to see what he needed, I couldn’t see past my wounds. I forgot to love him, for who he really is, not judge him and punish him.
I forgot to love him. I forgot that I loved him.
If I’m really honest, I didn’t want to love him. I wanted to be angry. I knew how to do that. I had a life time of experience of pulling away. I didn’t want to need him, to love him. I didn’t want to be “that girl”. So I shut down, did nothing and let it fester.
I forgot to love. Not just him, but everything and everyone. I saw the world in a new way, it lost all of it’s sparkle, it’s hope, it’s shine. I looked away, being busy, pretending. Somewhere inside of me there had been a glimmer of hope remaining, but now it was crushed, burned out, nothing left except a shell.
The pain washed over me in waves when I looked right at it all. I saw what I wanted to see. Not the truth. I sugar coated things. It took a big shake up to wake me up. But first it knocked me to my knees.
I thought looking right at it would destroy me, us; but it did the opposite. I was scared to claim myself, the very “type” of person I pretended to dislike. I realized what I was running from was exactly what I needed to run to. I couldn’t pretend anymore. I was dying inside, suffocating under the pretending. I found me and now it was time to be me. To ask for what I wanted and needed, to say what was ok, what wasn’t. If that was a bad thing, if the real me was a bad thing, then I’d have to be ok with losing what was created as the fake me.
But that’s not what happened…
I remembered love.
Had I ever really loved him? Or me? Had I always seen things through my filter of fear of not being enough. What if I loved him through the experiences of my life that made me weary, one foot in and one foot out. Conflicted because I was ready to run at any time but knowing I wasn’t going anywhere.
What if I didn’t really know what love was?
What if I wanted it to be “easy”. What if I wanted him to fight for me but no matter how hard he tried, I pushed him away. What if instead of just loving I was too busy trying to prove myself so I could get love?
Had I forgotten what love really was?
What if what I thought love was, wasn’t love at all? What if that was a safe version of love, and all of this was designed to help me find real love? What if I had to be brought to my knees to realize that I shut down so far that it would take an earthquake to wake me?
Now I can see through love again. I can see we’re all just people, trying our best. That we all have things, life experiences that cause us to withdraw and pull away, afraid of being hurt, rejected. Sometimes we fuck up. Sometimes we make bad decisions, bad choices, mistakes. It doesn’t make us bad or unloveable. It makes us human.
It destroyed me. But only the parts of me that weren’t real. It destroyed the fake me.
The real me emerged, a goddess from the stone that encased my heart. What I used to think were daggers designed to destroy me were actually chisels chipping away at stone walls I had built, revealing the parts of me I pretended not to be – love, soft, kind and yes, needing and wanting that deeper love, to build that life with someone.
But never believing it could happen… I pretended it didn’t matter. And even when I had it, I didn’t really have it. Because I couldn’t receive it, I couldn’t give or receive unconditional love and I withdrew at every slight.
How could I wish it to be different when it’s truly the best gift I’ve ever been given? I needed a wrecking ball to smash into the walls I had built. Nothing else would have opened me up except pure destruction. I had built a castle, complete with crocodile filled moats and an army.
On my knees, I found the real me and she is the one who remembered love. And now I remember to love him, love myself and love us, for who we are, what we’ve survived, separately and together and be excited again for what’s possible with love.
I remembered I loved him and I ask “What would love do?”