We all want it. To be special and loved and cared for by another. Some of us can accept it easily. Others of us spend our lives running from it. So many others spend their lives moving from one to the next always searching but never finding. Being lost in their own quest because they are searching for depth in the shallow end of the pool. Or their trauma is picking for them and that is very painful.
I will move from the theoretical others and just speak for myself here. Although it feels way safer for me to just stay on the surface...speak in generalities. But that isn’t honest, or true or really even why I began writing in the first place.
I started this whole deal to tell the truth and to do so in a way that hopefully others can relate to and find a familiar friend on the busy highway of life. I wanted to connect and that only seems to work when I do the very hard work of telling the truth, my truth.
I have wanted to find connection, true love and commitment my whole life. I have done a great job telling myself that I wanted something different once I appeared to find it. If I was single, I wanted to be committed and if I was committed, I wanted to be single. The grass is always greener syndrome. Now there have been times when I was happy with where I was. I was happy committed and happy single. But in retrospect those times are hard to delineate. Hard to punch out exactly the parameters of those experiences. I think I was happily married for about five years. Then I was unhappy for six. I have been happily single over the past seven years often, but always while still seeking to connect up with another.
What I have learned about myself is that I find it extremely uncomfortable being loved. And that is all because I doubt my own worthiness and value. So when I actually have someone who loves me and is committed to me, I wonder about their sanity and doubt them because I see myself so lacking. At least that is how it has always been.
The larger truth is that I find it incredibly hard on either side: being loved or being without a partner. Whatever side I am on, leaves me constantly searching and working to find a way to the other side. And then once I get there, I am content, for a moment then I begin to move back toward what is most familiar to me...the struggle.
I seem to require it. And doubt is such a great companion if you are like me. Doubt is always available to undercut your decisions, relationships, loves, self esteem and worthiness. Always there to help erode any inroad you might make in the love department.
My sponsor has called me out on this behavior more times that I can count...”I don’t think I know of another woman that has worked so hard to find a loving relationship, only to find one and then spend all of her time trying to figure out how to get out of it...” God that one stung. She was so right.
But after the sting faded, and I was able to admit that this was acutely true, I began to do the work to uncover why I do this. And I came to the realization that it was because I felt unworthy and the best thing to do when you feel unworthy is to leave. It solves all the problems, all the time.
I began a new relationship four months ago. And it is the best one I have ever had. I feel seen, heard, loved and cherished and adored every single day. And I will fully admit that it has caused me to want to flee. But because I know this is just how I am when in relationship, I have been able to sit with all that discomfort and follow it back to where it originated...and then leave it there.
I am never going to feel worthy all the time. I am never going to completely believe that someone really loves me. There are always be doubts. That is just how I am. So it isn’t about not having them, it is really about what I do with them. Doubts are part of the process. For me, for everyone. My biggest prevailing problem is that I took doubt to mean that there was something wrong instead of them being part and parcel to living an awakened life. Doubt makes you ask hard questions, and that is a good thing. My issue was always that I gave doubt too much credit. Like if I had them there was something wrong...and I was right and wrong.
The doubt that has plagued my life that has made me so uncomfortable being loved is the not the doubt that I feel for the other person...no, it is the doubt I feel about myself. What I am capable of, what I want, who I am, and all of those things get boiled down to this constant and unremitting belief that I am not worthy. And that is touchstone of all the doubt that I have ever had in my life.
I am not in charge nor will I ever be able to correctly and accurately gauge whether or not someone is right or wrong because it is not even the question. What can get me much better results is the question I have been habitually afraid to ask: “What do I want and what am I doing to interfere with getting that?”
As usual, I stand in my own way again.
Today I know that all the work on worth that I have done in the last seven years, has arrived me in this place where I can love myself. Not completely, not all the time but more than I ever have before. And now having someone else to reflect back my worth, to see me and love me and want to be with me, comes as a confirmation of all the work that I did and still have to do. See it is never over...the doubt seeds are planted deep and are attended to by age old springs of self denigration and fear. And they water those ideas that I am unworthy and therefore destined to walk the earth always searching but never finding.
Today I know that if I am uncomfortable being loved it is because of my own doubt about myself. About my worth, about my ability to love back. And there is only one remedy for that...to love anyway. To tell doubt to take a hike and to move forward on the path that I have wanted the whole of my life: to love and be loved by one person above all others. To do the work on myself daily so that I do not sabotage my relationships and I do not allow my old ideas about myself and worth to be what dominates and controls today.
When I look back over my life and love history, I can see that my pattern of leaving anyone who dared love me is long and began early. It is deeply rooted in my past. And still has tendrils that reach out into my present. But I have done the work. I can see where the doubt comes from and why it remains. And today I have other choices. I do not have to run today. I can see that the discomfort I feel is just the last gasp of childhood trauma reaching out to fuck up today. And today, I am not without recourse to appropriately handle. I am not a child with limited options. I am a grown ass woman who has many, many resources to manage life today.
I have done the work. I have uncovered all the painful places in my past to know that when I feel unworthy, it is just old ideas appearing real. The truth is that I am worthy and lovable and can do this whole love thing differently today. I can stay. I can allow. I can be present and honest and vulnerable. I do not have to run anymore because that which I am running from is long gone now.
My conclusion? It is hard to be loved. It is uncomfortable when you believe yourself to be so unworthy. But, but, you can do the work to change the history into something of your becoming and thereby change the trajectory of being loved from something that causes panic to something that feels wonderful and life affirming. Being loved requires a lot of inside work. It requires a lot of self reflection and appraisal. And a lot of inventory work. Without those, the patterns and trauma responses of the past are the only skills, and those bring survival but not really living.
While being loved by another may always at first be uncomfortable, that does fade in time. But only if what underlies it is addressed...self love, self care and self worth have to have been given a chance to grow and blossom into a core belief system. If they haven’t, there is truly not enough love in the world capable of conquering that kind of self loathing. I know. I have been there. And today I am grateful for all the hard work, effort and pain that I have walked through to get to the place where I am free to love myself, and to open myself up to the love of another. To trust that good things do happen in life and that living is way better than surviving. And that when I am living, I am present for the love I receive from others and also to give this able and brimming heart away trusting that I am worthy in spite of the doubts that will come from time to time.
Living is the process of loving. We live so that we may love. Hopefully ourselves then others. Because from my perspective, it is the only way to love with authenticity and vulnerability which breed trust, commitment and enduring love. And we are all worthy of that.