Saying 'goodbye' to the past seems to have been a theme this past month. Sometimes we hold on to people because they helped us remember who we were, who we are, or who we long to become. Over time though as we recover, heal, grow and expand we realize that we have outgrown these people and they may have even outgrown us.
When I began to realize how far I've come and as I accepted where I really want to be, only then did I begin to truly feel the "letting go" of the connections I held on to for so long. I had held on to people from my past as a way of pacifying the struggles I was going through. At some point however, I realized I held on more out of fear than out of love. Some people had grown and began moving towards a different path, our work together coming to completion; but most people remained the same. Years have gone by now and still so many people had remained exactly the same. It began to feel so strange to me that for so long I clung to these people I loved as some sort of safety net, a way to cling to hope and an identity... an identity that I was working so hard at evolving in the first place! This was no longer love, this was desperation. Why continue to hold on to the past? Because it's familiar? Out of fear?
I am no longer desperate. I am no longer the person I was 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10, last year, last month, yesterday... So why hang on to a fantasy, and a fantasy based on fear, pain, lack, emptiness...?
The one man that I knew had outgrown me is the one who loved most authentically. He showed me what it's like to love in the present. He showed me that there are men who choose to grow and evolve and are brave enough to be vulnerable, to be raw, to connect. We both outgrew the roles we were meant to play for one another along with the way our love was meant to be expressed for each other but a love that real, a connection that authentic is never outgrown, it expands, it invites others who are ready for that kind of love and who need that kind of companion who can share a vision and work to create that together. This kind of love is not what the above quote is referring to because that kind of love drops seeds everywhere it goes, even when lovers part ways. The quote is for the more common love, at least from my experience, the love born from pain, emptiness, loneliness, an aching need we hope someone else can fulfill.
Maybe it's the Saturn transit, maybe it's because the moon is in Cancer, maybe it's mere coincidence but this has been a month of acknowledging the harsh Winters of all the empty love that never offered any real connection. That flower has grown tired of the harsh conditions, constantly fighting to break through the impenetrable soil. Seeds have been dropped though, potent seeds filled with potential that will remain alive and vibrant until the perfect conditions arise for it to bloom and flourish creating a mutual and balanced experience, creating new life.
"I want you" - "I need you" - "I choose you"
There was a time when I longed to be wanted; I craved the words, "I need you". Then I realized that 'want' comes from a space of emptiness and 'need' was coming from my own perception of lack. I wanted nothing more than to be enough for someone. How absurd when my cries were from a space of emptiness and lack proving I wasn't enough?!
I began to do the work, primarily focused on awareness; noticing when my patterns could potentially emerge, pausing, and making a different choice than one I would have made in the past. My entire world and worldview shifted as well as how I interacted with others. The thing about being self-aware is you begin to become more self-fulfilled, more self-nurturing and learn the healthy balance of self-love thereby giving you the opportunity to truly show up and love others in the healthiest ways for everyone. Every interaction with other human beings becomes more fulfilling, even if it is simply because it offers a new awareness or opportunity for growth.
This is about the time the opportunity to know a certain kind of love knocked on my door. This time I was ready to face any fears head on as they would come up and begin to mindfully explore this new road with absolutely no attachment to an idea, a fantasy or a desired outcome.
Here's the thing about dating when you have worked on all of your own 'stuff', you can be completely open to standing in witness of how things unfold. For the first time I wasn't the girl jumping to the end of the book to see how it ends before reading the entire thing, I am the woman who picks up the book excited to see where this journey takes me, perfectly willing to accept a surprise ending or explore an infinite amounts of chapters.
Here I am discovering what it's like to choose someone every single day. I would read the quotes about love being a choice and love being a verb but never appreciated it in the real sense, the a posteriori sense. But now, now I see that the choice alone is a verb. Our overall wellness is a choice as well as a union of the mind, body and spirit; this goes for our relationships as well. Each morning and throughout the day my mind may choose him, other times my heart and often my body wants a say as well. When I'm with him they all choose him at once and it's like music; different types of music, sometimes the playlist changes or it's on shuffle but for each day and each experience we share, even in quiet stillness, there is always music.
Now desire is born from the space of my own fulfillment and the recognition of the fulfillment he has within him. Desire comes from all the little things that make this person who they are, the shadow and the light, creating this beautiful package. Desire comes from the appreciation of being accepted as we are with no projections from our past. Desire comes from the relief of getting to know someone who doesn't truly need anything from us but chooses to sometimes be the one to graciously give and sometimes graciously receive. Desire will be easy because even the scariest moments will somehow make you feel even safer and you will feel a sense of ease as you get through them together. Desire will be the celebration of sharing an exciting experience with someone new, ready for wherever the road may lead you because no matter what, you will always have these moments that you are sharing together.
I received a question the other day from one of my YouTube viewers; they asked "How did you deal with the loneliness at first? How do you become ok being alone?" This question prompted by my video, Recovery from Love Addiction. This is probably the most exquisite question I have gotten so far. The answer can sum up recovery (of any kind really) and I am thrilled to make the video in response and I am even more excited about the direction this question gave me. But this isn't the best and most professional response. This will be my personal, rawest and most real response that I will merely reference in my upcoming video. I can give a general response for everyone but if you are curious how I became comfortable alone this is it...
To begin, let's be clear that there is a vast difference between being alone and lonely. I have never felt more alone than when I'm with people. I grew up believing that there must be, at the very least, one person that I wouldn't feel lonely with so I began to become attached to the idea of what that person would feel like when I was with them. I had absolutely NO frame of reference, this was all fantasy and that was my undoing. I got caught up in relationships that were toxic and abusive and my behavior spiraled to the point of being suicidal.
You see, in my world, loneliness was only felt in relationships, not out of them. I felt loneliest lying next to anyone who controlled me, betrayed me, punished me, ignored me, loathed me, demanded of me, and on and on and on. The space between us was palpable but being touched was worse, it was as though each touch was meant to take something from me, to use, to consume, to alter, to mutilate. Even when I found my refuge, when I had the opportunity to share a bed with a man who truly knew me and cared for me deeply, who was my safe space from my nightmares, I remained lonely because it still wasn't love, not the kind of love that is secure in a way I needed most.
But in my lover's eyes I would see my bruises reflected as well as the girl that was still trapped inside. I discovered myself, my power, my truest beauty, my womanhood again and eventually I had to say 'goodbye' to the mirror I loved, this mirror who had saved my life as I also said 'goodbye' to the lie that had brought me there.
Loneliness then became losing everything. There is no greater hell then losing the ability to see your child on a regular basis. There is no greater emptiness. And no other kind of love can fill that void. When I first lost my home I stayed with a close friend who opened up her home and sometimes would fall asleep talking with me. This was the least lonely I ever felt, sharing a bed with a close female friend that was willing to simply be present. My screams would wake her though. For those few nights someone else heard my screams, I wasn't alone and I didn't feel lonely.
That's the thing about having deep scars from the past. You spend years doing the physical, spiritual and psychological work on yourself, healing trauma, PTSD, and anything that may have brought you to the choices you had made in romantic partners (addiction, avoidance, past abuse, codependence, etc.) but that doesn't take away the many more years locked away. The mind has an interesting way of deciding when it's time to heal something. One thing dating has taught me is that no one can hear you scream anymore - no one except you. You will still wake up to the sounds of your own screams. You will hear your voice screaming in your dreams. The sound of your screaming comes and goes but no one else can hear you... not really.
You can look at someone else, try to explain it and only feel more lonely when their empty eyes look at you with confusion or their cold responses leave you feeling as though you cut yourself wide open just to fall to your knees bleeding alone all over again while they just watch you, with no compassion or worse yet, complete disinterest.
To me, loneliness is the emptiness you feel when an expectation is not met. So, if I expected a fairy tale, I was lonely every moment I was with someone that didn't give that to me. As I matured, healed, became educated, loneliness has become the expectation of a shred of compassion when a relationship comes to the point of needing to share more about my past and receiving nothing. Not feeling lonely has become loving who I am, accepting myself, forgiving myself, being compassionate with myself and surrounding myself with only those who treat themselves the same way. And most of all, just loving people as they are while loving myself enough to honor my own boundaries.
Spiritualists will tell you that expectations break your heart, not people. I'm here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with expecting compassion when you open up about something painful with the goal of being closer to a partner, connecting on a more intimate level and being able to release something that is ready to move from your psyche and your spirit. This also is in line with the Buddhist teaching of romantic love so when we talk about expectations, let's be clear on what expectations are reasonable and realistic and which ones may be exaggerated. That's all another topic for another day.
Image Credit: GoodVibes Photography
Micah's confessions and lessons that have helped with self-forgiveness, healing and acceptance.