I pride myself on the fact that I’ve become skilled at identifying, acknowledging, and facing my fears. I’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years. I understand where my behaviors come from—everyone tells me that’s the most important first step.
I’m beginning to wonder if it’s true. Yes, I know why I behave the way I do when it comes to relationships, love, and emotional vulnerability. I’m well aware of my issues and the problems that led me to this place. Despite all that, I’m having a damn tough time changing anything about my approach.
I tell myself that next time will be different, but when I get to the moment of reckoning, I choke. It happens over and over again. I tell myself to behave in a more functional manner and I just can’t do it. I’m so frustrated with my inability to get past my deepest fear of all—the fear of giving another person the power to hurt me.
The problem here is my perception that I am giving someone else power over me by allowing them to see me. It absolutely does not have to be that way, but that is entirely up to me. I need to get to a position where I can give of myself freely, be open, be vulnerable, and still retain my sense of identity.
I want to be able to give all of myself without losing any of myself. That’s a tough task, perhaps the toughest any of us humans ever take on.
I’m incredibly happy in my life right now, regardless of the walls I’ve put up to defend myself from love. I believe that this is an important first step in finding a way to release myself from the emotional cage I’ve built—I’m genuinely joyful for the first time since I was very young. It’s taken work to get here. It’s taken many shameful realizations and uncomfortable transitions.
I now know that I can be completely content on my own. I know that I’m strong enough to live without love if I don’t find the love I want.
I’m also terrified that if I let myself fall for someone, I’ll lose all that strength. It’s happened before. I have a bad habit of giving myself over entirely to men and relationships, pouring all of my effort and energy into us rather than into myself. It was an easy way to distract myself from my own problems in the past.
Yes, I’m different now. I’m no longer the person I was back then, and I haven’t been in a real relationship since I’ve changed. It’s partially because I know what I want now and I’m not going to settle for anything less. It’s partially because I know I can connect with others on a personal and intimate level…unless there are romantic feelings involved. Then it starts to get messy.
I’m not afraid of messy. To the contrary, I think that genuine, deep love is usually messy, dirty, raw, and sometimes even ugly. I’m afraid that I’ll allow myself to be messy with someone and he’ll reject me for it. I’m afraid that, despite having acquired confidence and self-love, rejection from someone I care about will still have the power to undermine everything I’ve built.
I suppose the only way to conquer that fear is to accept that there is going to be pain and hurt in my life, no way around it. It’ll find me somehow no matter how strong I make myself. I’m still a quivering bundle of softness and emotion under that tough skin anyhow. I think I’m protecting myself, but it’s not going to help me in the long run.
All I can do is make myself present, breathe through it all, and be authentic. If it’s scary, that’s OK. If things don’t go the way I’d like, that’s OK, too. I have to remember not to give any one aspect of my life too much weight. I choose how much importance to assign to the way I let love affect me. I’m never going to have the emotional intimacy I want if I keep on this way. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but it’s time to let the damn fear die.