Testing out relationships is a very normal and necessary part of our experience. It helps us to find our place in this life as well as to figure out just what we want out of it.
When I think back to some of my old relationships in my younger years, both love and friendship-wise, I am in awe of how naïve I really was and how much I lacked in confidence. And, that’s okay. I don’t say that in judgement of myself. How could I? After all, my experiences were limited back then and I was basing my decisions on that of which I knew, making the best choices that I could at the time–the same as everyone else.
The problem, however, is that I never really let anyone in. You know what I mean? I thought I was opening the door, but there was always something there (more like someone…me!) that stopped it from going all the way. I would only let things go so far and then, I would go through a series of ridiculous rituals (i.e. not calling, making myself busy, flirting with others) to ‘test’ out just how serious things were or how the person felt about me. My claim later would be that I had difficulty in trusting others (for good reason, as I would come to learn), and that I wanted to prevent myself from getting hurt. God forbid that I put myself in a vulnerable position of any sort, as then I would be risking my ‘safety’ AND my reputation of being strong and independent. Except that in doing so, I also would not ever get to know anyone on a truly intimate level, and more importantly, I would not allow them that same sense of intimacy with me. They might not like what they see. But, if I had let them in they would have seen an average girl who really just wanted to love and be loved and reassured, in both good times and bad. I wanted to mean something to someone else and have them be that special someone to me. Early on, I wasn’t very successful in making that happen. The wall was up. I put it there subconsciously and I must say that it proved to be a monumental and tedious task to dismantle it, brick by brick. Truthfully, it got to be more than tiring for myself and others who had wanted in. Change was imminent. The fact is that I would have to allow myself to see and be comfortable with my own vulnerabilities before I could let others do the same. I was so guarded that I wasn’t even honest with myself about who I was or what I really wanted. I had myself convinced that I didn’t NEED anyone to love or to be loved. (So wrong!) The thing is that I didn’t know if I would EVER be able to reveal my true self and my imperfections while learning to embrace all of who I was. I had worked so hard to hide it all. Too hard, as it turns out. ‘Surely, I am not the only one struggling, am I?’, I self-questioned.
Then, one day, something was said to me that forever changed the course of my relationships and the way that I handled them. When, yet again, I held fast to my theory of not being able to trust in others as the main issue in my relationships, I was rightfully challenged on my statement. “What you really mean is that you don’t trust in yourself.” ‘What?! Of course, I trust myself,’ I thought angrily. ‘How dare you say that I don’t trust in myself…I am the strongest person that I know.’ And then, I felt a bit sick. Obviously, given the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach which rose quickly to my heart (not ironic at all), there must have been some truth to what she had said. Indeed, there was! All that time I had spent thinking that it was others who were the problem when, in fact, it was me. Little old me. I didn’t trust in myself or the fact that I could love or be loved. Sad, but true for so many of us I think, which is why I am choosing to share. My hope would be that no one would ever have to feel that way again, as it simply isn’t true. We all deserve to love and to feel loved. Unconditionally. It is a huge part of our human connection, our human experience. You. Me. Us.
I had no idea that really, there is enormous strength in one’s vulnerabilities; they are the defining AND most attractive qualities that make us who we are. They are the badges and character traits that we wear in coming through various trials, triumphs and tribulations that life throws our way. We are them and they are us and others love us for it just as we love them for theirs. THAT is love, that is what a real relationship is. Sharing in those moments with each other while sporting and happily wearing our ‘badges’–I wonder if they read:
I have finally arrived.
I am me for all to see,
and it’s a really, really great place to be:-).