Despite how much we desperately want to be loved, when it comes near, we often shy away from it.
Much of this comes from past hurt. Our soul remembers everything—once we have experienced pain through love, it warns us of the dangers when a similar situation is presented to us.
We back off, protect and armour ourselves. Instead of opening up to it, we seal all possible entries. Often we even self-destruct in order to make ourselves unlovable to prevent love from coming close again.
I see this as similar to the time I had a bad fall on a ski slope. The next time I went out, it didn’t matter how much I pushed myself, I was afraid the same thing would happen again. I didn’t want to risk the pain again and I didn’t want to have to go through the same recovery process that took months for my wounds to heal.
Despite me telling my body to relax and to have faith that this time I would be fine, my inner senses thought differently. My sub-conscious mind was not prepared to let go of the memories of the trauma, injuries and recovery. And so, I became nervous, awkward and stiff—and I was far more likely to fall and injure myself again.
In trying to protect myself, I was causing more harm. My self-preservation was preventing me from moving forward. I wasn’t even stagnant—I had taken steps back and had no idea how to begin to recover.
I had believed that once my wounds had healed, I was safe to continue. But my inner mind was not so willing to forget. Every time I felt I was gaining confidence, something would happen to remind me that danger was possibly ahead.
I had questions but no answers.
Do I give up, stay far away from something I love just in case something terrible happens again?
Is it possible to let go of painful memories of the past so that I can relax and fully enjoy the present?
Will the same thing happen to me again?
Am I strong enough to cope with going through recovery again if something does go wrong?
What do I have to lose if I am too afraid to continue?
If I’m honest, giving up was not an option. Why would I deny myself of something that gave me immense pleasure? So, I had no option. I had to learn to move forward. I had to listen to my fears, be patient, pay attention and soothe each of their worries.
Just like when I experienced my very first heartbreak, I went into shock, I was vulnerable, I had no idea how to handle it, how to fix my self, how to relieve the pain and how to ever feel confident again.
I had been left shattered and broken and I was the only one who could pick myself back up, despite the offer of hands around me. I knew I had to find my inner strength.
The biggest lesson of all in learning to have faith again was the understanding that time and again, the trust I placed in it could very easily be shattered. With one wrong move, all of the time and effort I have spent creating a safe space could be torn to shreds. I could be thrown back into the abyss at any time.
But, the next time would different.
I had rope to hold on to.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from trauma is that despite the suffering it yields, it can also serve us with tools for future survival.
If I am going to have faith there are a few things I need to keep telling myself.
- I must be aware that pain is a possible outcome. I need to recognise this and listen to my inner fears.
- With awareness, I will not be paralysed with shock if something goes wrong.
- In order to prevent injury, I must take things slow, have more confidence in myself, learn as much as I can before taking the plunge and realise that the journey is what is important, not the destination.
- I must think about what I have to gain, over what I have to lose. If I don’t try, then I will have achieved nothing.
- There will be difficulties and there will be falls, but I will learn from each one and not allow them to weaken me.
- The highs I feel are worth the possibilities of a low.
- I cannot predict the future. I can only control my own actions and I have no control over obstacles that others (or nature) may put in my way.
- I realise fear exaggerates my mind 10-fold, my imagination plays tricks and adds energy to my anxieties, nothing is ever as bad as I imagine when I am living in fear.
- Fear holds me back. I have to let go of it and change the channel to a positive one every time a negative image or story flashes up.
- If I believe I will get hurt, it will end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- If I remove myself, I definitely have nothing to gain.
- If I get hurt again, healing is possible, it is just a process, one that is part of being alive.
- I have recovered many times before and I am very capable of recovering again.
- If I do fall again, it is not failure and it does not mean I am not good enough, it is life and sh*t happens. At any moment I can choose to get back up and bounce back stronger than before.
My defences were offering me a false sense of security. They told me they were protecting me, when really, they were just preventing me. They were keeping me from the things I loved most.
I will always have a certain amount of fear of the unknown, but instead of letting it cage me, I allow it to challenge me.
I will overcome it, I will grow stronger and I will not allow it to stir up past painful memories each time something new comes my way. Instead, I will quieten its demands to be heard and I will instead embrace all the love, pleasure and pain that life has to offer.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Alexsandra Myles
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Favi Santos/Flickr