It’s been a few months now since I took my profile off the dating sites and deleted those “possible” or “kinda, sorta, maybe” men from my cell phone. The last one, the one that had been riding my heart for more than a year, took more doing. I knew it was time to finally remove all vestiges of him from my life as I was driving home from the grocery store about eight weeks ago. I pulled over next to a grubby looking fence with a “do not litter” sign, and I hit “remove contact” beneath the photo that I had once so carefully placed above his name. I felt lighter. I could breathe. It was okay to not be looking and hoping anymore. I was just fine as a “one” not looking to become part of a “two.”
But getting to this place has taken work, and a lot of it has not been pretty or easy. Because I had to go back to places that I didn’t know were there and start feeling emotions I had never felt before. I had to go back to the beginning. I had to go back to the place where my concept of love was formed — my childhood. This was a place of confusion, control and smoke-and-mirrors “perfect family” living. This was a place where a very young me looked out at the world and decided the best way to stay safe was to put my heart into hiding. It was safer not to feel or acknowledge that I felt unloved and invisible So, I protected my inner longings and wants, my aches and hurts with a big “yellow raincoat.” This protective gear saved my sanity, but it also held my heart alone and separate, confused and needy for most of my life.
To survive and feel real, I ran into my head to play in the field of ideas and words, school books and term papers, exams and projects. In getting good grades and being “smart,” I hid from the reality of so many hurts. I hid from the aching wounds of a child unseen and unheard. I hid from the fact that what I thought was “love” in my family was a push/pull affair of tangled strings and controlling rage. And the worst part of all this hiding is that I didn’t know that I had done it. I didn’t know that I had put that big yellow raincoat over the core of my own being. I thought I knew my feelings and what love was. But I didn’t. I confused need with love. I confused being good with love. I confused sex with love and always saying “yes” with love.
Because of this confusion, I reached out to men who were just like me. They were wounded and wanting, protected and scarred–and living brilliantly in their heads. I recognized the tattered soul of another un-loved child and I thought that I had found a soul mate and best friend. What I found was another heart battling to find love who, just like me, had no real clue what available, allowing and honest love was. So of course, the relationships would be drama-shot and stilted with control, fear and need holding center stage as the only kind of intimacy either of us knew.
For the last year, I have been on a journey of reclaiming the lost pieces of that so young me who went into hiding to protect my heart and soul. I have willingly torn the cover off my family’s myth that my growing up years were perfect. I have reopened door after painful door to find the places where I lost my way. I have cried and I have grieved. I have pulled the past apart one brick at a time — not in anger or blame, but in self-love, compassion and truth. I have looked clear-eyed and clear-souled at where I have been, what happened, what I did, and what was done to me.
With soul-bravery and self-loving courage, I have taken off that big yellow raincoat. It is tattered and threadbare. It did a big service for a very long time, but I don’t need it anymore. I am beginning to feel all my feelings now — and it is totally okay and safe. I know I am good and that my voice matters. I am beginning to truly understand what love is. It is a powerful owning and gentle honoring of my own heart and soul as I walk into each day loving, learning and cherishing just me. And in doing this, I am at last fully able love others — honest, open, grateful and free.
“It’s Okay to Stop Looking” was first published in Huffington Post, 6-10-14
To learn about her new book, “Soul on the Run,” go to: www.SoulOnTheRun.com