The Courage To Love
Do you remember the first time your heart was broken? Innocence lost… realization that the world isn’t as beautiful as your story books and movies portrayed.
Who was it that broke your heart? The first boy that you liked? And he didn’t like you back? Or did you fall for the popular guy but you weren’t popular so you never even tried?
Or did it go back further than that? Did your heart break for the first time you were told to shut up by a parent? Or rejected by a sibling? Or called fat by a friend? Crack, Crack, Crack… over and over and over again.
Did you retreat and decide you didn’t like how that felt? How many times did it take? How many times before you realized the world was a cruel place and it was better to be safe than be a fool? It was better to be safe than to trust? How many times? And by how many people? Not only the romantic ones… because in reality we were heart broken dozens of times by the time the boys had their turns.
We’re raised on fairytales and prince charming. We read stories and dress like princesses and dream about the day we will get married and live happily ever after. The world is a beautiful and perfect place… for such a very short time. Perhaps the fairy tales were a beautiful escape from an outside world filled with uncertainty. Maybe your prince charming would come and save you?
Then in kindergarten a boy pushes you. And someone says “he likes you” – confusing, because the fairy tales never said boys hurt you if they like you… but society starts telling us that. And we begin to accept it as the truth… but somewhere deep inside we still believe in that fairy tale and we think we can change them – like beauty and beast. Or they will find us and save us like Rapunzel.
Before we know what’s happened, we’re caught up, in too deep, we have lost a little bit of ourselves, gone mad in a relationship and something happens – he leaves, cheats, breaks up, and sometimes, even hits or just uses cruel words. And we forget who we are. Boys, will of course, be mean to you, if they like you.
By now family and women in our lives, society, movies, TV, books, magazines are all telling us the TRUTH about men… they can’t be trusted, they leave, they cheat, we can’t rely on them – never ever reply on a man. Get and keep your job, save money, you never know when you might need to leave.
And it’s a confusing mess in our heads and hearts. Because desperately we believe the fairy tale could still be true, we crave it, we want it and deep inside we hold onto the belief. But experience begins to wear it down. Through our experiences, our friends, family and life experiences we see the real truth – men can’t be trusted.
How old are you now? And what else has happened in your life? How have you been let down by friends and family and now lovers? How much more proof do you need that the world is a cruel place? I was done before I graduated high school. My life experiences taught me valuable lessons about who people really were – “friends” setting you up on dates that never existed and laughing at you when you were hurt; like living through the movie mean girls… where they bring you into their circle only to make fun of you. Wake up to it. Walk away. No one needs friends like that. But never ever make that mistake again. Don’t get too close. Always expect people to hurt you. My life experiences taught me what boys really were – looking for one thing, saying what you want to hear and pretending to care, but then dropping you for the next best thing. See, you can’t trust anyone.
“Fuck them or they’ll fuck you” became the motto by which I lived my life. There was a level no one got past. I always protected myself. I could leave friends behind with the snap a finger. I could hold a grudge for my perception that you did me wrong… I had one foot out and only my toes in for all of my relationships, including friends and family. I never let anyone get too close. Why would anyone intentionally line themselves up for hurt?
And the fairy tale finally ended. I no longer looked for it. I no longer believed it. In fact, I believed the exact opposite. What is love anyway? Good sex, yes. Mutual respect where each person knows the others boundaries, yes. The ability to retain independence, yes. Not have to give more than I could, yes. Love became a rational experience. But before that it was a fun, soul crushing experience. I would play their games for a change. I would reel them in and drop them. I would let them fight for me, and then disappear. Revenge was fun. The funniest part was of course, the less I wanted them, the more they tried to tame me, to settle me down, but they couldn’t. Except one… who I married. And love was rational.
“Don’t let your heart do the thinking” “always keep your wits about you” “never lose yourself”. But I had lost myself a long long time before that. I was playing games and they were backfiring. The only person who was getting hurt was me. I was acting something I wasn’t – like someone who didn’t care, like someone who knew how to have fun, the ultimate girl that every guy wanted – not needy, not clingy, like the party, do my own thing, keep my freedom and they got to keep theirs. Everything was safe and surface. So I should have been happy, right?
But I was living a lie. I was pretending that love didn’t matter. I was pretending to be something I wasn’t. I was pretending none of it mattered and it was all a game. But every now and then in moments of darkness (mostly on my knees in the shower as I washed away the heaving tears where no where could hear them) the truth surfaced. But I’d quickly push it down again… reminding myself not to be a stupid weak woman who would be taken advantage of, who’s husband would fuck other people, and who’d be made a fool of. Shove it down. That’s a fairy tale and the only people living it just don’t know what’s going on behind their back yet.
Young, beautiful, broken.
Eventually though the lies would collide in an eye opening experience. I created myself to be what I am… I created myself and told myself enough times that I didn’t care, didn’t need or didn’t want. Hitler said if you tell a lie long enough even you’ll believe it. And I not only believed it, I lived it, I thrived on it. But like all lies, they’ll come crumbling down eventually. And mine did when I looked at the landscape of my life – I have everything I ever wanted but I’m not happy, why?
Because I was missing. What I REALLY wanted was missing. The true and full essence of myself – who I was before all of the hurt, the pain and the bullshit. I had hid away, locked my authentic self away to protect myself from further hurt, but subconsciously I still believed prince charming would come for me, save me, prove to me that love was safe and not scary and that the right people – intimate, family and friends – will treat you right.
But no-one came.
Because even when they tried, I pushed them away. I didn’t know how to let people in. It was too scary. As I learned (am still learning) how to open up and open my heart and feel my emotions, I realized I had hidden myself so much that no one knew who I was. I didn’t even know who I was. As I uncovered and discovered who I really was, I found myself dealing with those old unprocessed emotions – fear, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety – all the things that made me retreat.
I lost my breath as I realized it was more acceptable in society to live jaded, angry, bitter. The women who hurt by generations of male dominated ownership, the ones who were left behind, cheated on, abused… they wanted to protect us by teaching us to rely only on ourselves. it wasn’t intentionally maliciocus, but it was destructive all the same… because we were raised on conflict – believe in prince charming as a child, but by early teens we’re taught that’s a lie and doesn’t exist. We are conflicted and confused and have no idea what real love looks like and we settle for and get ourselves into all kinds of situations where we “settle” and make concessions because we believe it’s all a certain way.
And at the root of it is a lack of trust. We are taught not to trust. And then our life experiences teach us not to trust and eventually we listen… we stop trusting and we stop using our heart and we start using our head. Our friends keep us grounded and our mothers give us warning looks and society tells us we’re being stupid when we’re madly in love.
So I saved myself. No one could save me anyway, it had to be my choice, only my choice.
And as I stand in the truth of it all – I choose every day to love or to not love. I choose to live in fear and not trust. I choose to hide who I really am and what I really want, from all of my relationships, not just intimate ones, but family, friends, clients, business, everything. It’s more acceptable to societies standards to distrust and hold back and be angry and bitter than it is to love unconditionally. People are uncomfortable with emotion, with the truth. People want you to lie and pretend. We’re so conditioned that we don’t even realize what we really want, that what’s been unsatisfied and calling to us is that part of ourselves that we’ve locked away, afraid to love.
It’s not courageous to not be needy, it’s not courageous to not love, it’s not courageous to hold ourselves and not declare what we want. That’s not courage, that’s cowardice. And I lived in fear of being hurt, again. I lived in fear of being made a fool of, again. I lived in fear of being rejected, again. It was better to not say I wanted it and not get it than it was to say I wanted it and get rejected.
Used to be.
Now, I am using my heart and my head together. I know I might get hurt, I know I will get hurt actually because hurt is part of life, it’s an emotion that we need to experience. And I’m allowing myself to feel them all, for the first time in my life. I no longer eat them, drink them, smoke them… I feel it and it’s helping me heal it. I trust myself, my intuition to tell me who the good ones are, I show a little more of myself each day. It’s not always easy. But I realize it’s never been about other people, it’s been about trusting myself to know what and who is best for me, for loving and accepting myself fully and wholly so I can live life fully in life and love.
It takes a lot of courage to love openly, fully. It takes a lot of courage to love unconditionally. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself, for your beliefs, for the universe,the planet,the world. It takes a lot to speak up against cruelty and injustice, sometimes when you’re the only one standing. It takes a lot of courage to forgive and move on, harbouring no ill will to others, realizing they’re just on their own fucked up journey, doing their best to get through their days.
It’s takes way more courage to love than it does not to love.