Honest Living: Afraid to Love Again
My boyfriend made a comment to me recently that really struck a chord. He said, “You’re so busy trying to protect your own heart that you’ve hurt mine in the process.”
I didn’t respond for several long moments, because I knew perfectly well what he meant. I am often hot and cold with him, depending on my level of security on any given day. By security I mean how comfortable I feel with the relationship. If, for instance, I see him on Facebook in the evening or catch him texting someone on his phone, I immediately feel defensive. "Who is he talking to?" I’ll wonder silently. Is he seeing someone else?
In turn, I’ll distance myself from him as my worries wash over me like flood waters on the plain. I’ll show little or no affection, respond coolly to his questions, and refuse to engage him in conversation. Of course he notices these changes, and, to his credit, he tolerates them because he knows about my past history with men. But on the evening in question, after I’d isolated myself for no logical reason, he made his remark. And I was forced to examine my own actions.
The truth is that he’s right. Since the beginning of our relationship, I’ve done everything possible to save my heart from being hurt again. I’ve used veiled requests in an effort to convey my fear. “Please don’t hurt me,” I’ve said a million times. “If you’re not in this relationship with both feet, please tell me now.”
He's endured this behavior for quite some time without asking much from me in return. And I haven’t given a whole lot, because I’ve been so busy trying to construct a shield of the finest stainless steel. But in so doing, I’ve missed out on building the foundation of what might be a long and loving relationship.
We – my boyfriend and I – stand mostly on the ground he has built. He’s worked to acclimate himself to my world while simultaneously introducing me to all of his friends and family members. He’s helped me build my business, connected me with influential citizens in our hometown, and praised my work endlessly. He tells me he loves me just the way I am (excess weight and all) and buys me almost anything I ask for. And still the only thing I see is the negative aspects of this relationship, such as his friendships with other women and continued loyalty to his family. I focus only on his faults (we all have them) and tell myself not to get too involved because we probably won’t last.
All of this, I do, because I’m afraid to love again.
Coming out of My Shell
But fear has turned me into a selfish shell of a person. I’ve given my boyfriend very little in return for his many kindnesses, always choosing to instead wait for the moment when he leaves me. But this simple and meaningful question must be asked: What if this is the love I’ve been waiting for my entire life?
If I don’t straighten up, this love will slip through my hands. I don’t want to be alone, but I don’t want to risk the hurt that love can bring. In order to live honestly, I need to admit right now that I’m capable of being a better person than I’ve been. And so I must set out to be that person, to show my boyfriend that he is loved and to show myself I’m capable of being loved even after the ugly and ruinous relationships that are behind me.