You’ll never be too old (thus implying some sort of gained wisdom through experience) and you’ll never have enough relationships to escape the truism: to reach True Love & Intimacy, one must become Vulnerable. Thus it follows that Vulnerability means an Open Heart, which means space for fears to raise their ugly heads. Much of what I thought I had learned through romantic trial and error turns out to be delicately balanced on a teeter-totter of Identity and Validation.
When I was younger, my fear was that I didn’t know who I was. I had been shaped by encounters with my environment, parents, teachers, weird body developments, first exposure to the politics of childhood, and very odd “educational” films in school. So when the siren call of dating & mating arrived, I searched. And by searching, I mean everything from deep, sometimes enhanced, self-exploration to desperate over-compensating. Sex and Dating was somewhat like a trapeze act – ready to jump off from the high point, regardless of there being a safety net, and praying like crazy that someone would catch me. It was a belief that I would only be successful if there was Someone Else, someone there to “complete me”. I also wanted them to save me. Save me from tedium, from loneliness, from peer pressure, from societal & familial demands, from solo holidays, from early morning walks of shame, from sidelong glances, from having to keep working on myself,…
Later, now road tested, scarred and carved, having fallen and rebounded and ran like hell and made a fool of myself and fooled others, I started to get a clue. I became very self-aware and determined. It took some practice. There were stumbles and bruises, but I persevered. With high ideals and steadfast dreams, I pledged myself as an acolyte to Love. And gloriously I found a good man who loves me and accepts me, who wants to devote himself to our relationship and stay committed to me for the rest of my life. Great, right? All fears conquered, Identity and Validation confirmed.
I found that, living with someone, becoming intimate, revealing truth and self, relaxing and believing that now the “real” me could step forward, all this exposed deeper, somewhat buried fears. Somewhere along the path of learning to be human and sharing that in love, I discovered, through reflection in another’s eyes, not only my selfish behavior patterns; but that, far from being “cured”, my fears had escalated exponentially with the value of what I now had at stake.
How does the cycle end? I have one simple answer: Being Yourself.
All the effort I ever put in: self-discovery, surviving dark thoughts and depression, questioning my value, my attractiveness, my abilities (at all kinds of things), climbing and falling and climbing again … and falling again …, therapy, self-absorbed fighting stances to show that I was right, extreme and not-so extreme attempts at changing – myself or the other person, running away, pushing away … all of it ended when I took a big breath, released the fears …no….fired the fears from their job…and took the biggest leap of all: letting…my…self’…be. Turns out I’m not so bad after all. Turns out that is exactly what my very patient husband had been waiting for. Somehow he had seen that all along. Turns out that Vulnerability and Intimacy does indeed channel to True Love.
- Accept and Experiment with not knowing who you are …
- Find out, but be prepared with compassion for discovering that the real you can be very confusing and disconcerting. Maybe even someone you don’t like very much.
- And at last – Focus on Being Yourself. It’s your best plan yet.