“Love when you are ready, not lonely.” ~ Unknown
Although I have spent a lot of time denying it—the truth is, I have been scared to love for a long time.
I was young and naïve the first time I gave my heart to someone, and because I wanted the fairytale to be true, I stayed far longer than I should have.
So when my heart finally broke, so did I.
I took my heart and delicately wrapped it up in aged lace, filled with sorrow and pessimism and placed it in a box deep within my soul.
Though I looked and acted open, the truth is, my heart wasn’t available because I still wasn’t whole.
I was afraid to be hurt again.
I was afraid that someone would find me unlovable.
And so I took the best parts of myself and locked them away.
The worst part—I masqueraded as someone who wore my heart on my sleeve.
Truthfully I was just pretending, because at the time, I didn’t have anything left to offer anyone who wanted to stake a claim on my heart.
I was broken—and not only that, I didn’t know who I was.
Secretly I whispered to myself, the very words I’d heard in the silent darkness, too many nights to count.
“Who would ever love me?”
It takes a great deal of courage and work to overcome our darkest demons—especially if they were created by people who supposedly loved and cared for us.
The thing is, I came to believe these harsh words—so it wasn’t possible for me to be in a place to trust anyone, not even myself.
But, even as painful as those moments were, I needed to experience them.
In the end, the lesson of self-love is what I most needed.
I had aged in years and accomplished the milestones that supposedly make us adults—but I’d never given myself the time, room or freedom to really grow and experience life.
I never made getting to know myself a priority.
Having a broken heart and being afraid to love another, I was given the chance to finally fall in love with myself.
Not only did I date the hell out of myself—I also gave myself permission to be whoever I am in any given moment.
I gave myself permission to feel everything and anything that arose. I validated those emotions and processed through them knowing that whatever came up was a necessary lesson.
I tried new things—some were a perfect fit and others taught me that sometimes certain things can only be learned through experience.
Despite all of my growth, I was afraid to love again.
And though I offered myself to men during that time, the truth is, I was always relieved when he didn’t choose to stay.
I was terrified—not only of loving and being loved, but of my life changing.
When my life fell apart, I had to rebuild it from the ground up, and once I’d done it to my liking, the thought of anyone coming in and changing anything terrified me.
The thought of intimacy was enough to make me shudder in fear.
And while I said I was ready and craved love, my actions said something quite different.
The truth of it is, during that time I could never picture a man around the house in the mornings, or next to me washing up the dishes after dinner.
I only ever pictured myself, alone.
But instead of trying to band-aid the situation—I chose to sit with it instead.
I didn’t take less than I deserved or wanted and I made a life out of everything that was already good.
I found my voice and the ability to say no.
I stopped saying sorry for expressing my opinion, even if it differed from someone else’s.
Somewhere along the way, in between quiet nights, too much strong coffee and weekends by the raging sea, I fell in love with myself.
I suddenly experienced the tight grip of fear leave my chest and heart once and for all.
And suddenly, as I was watching the rays of sun dance across my ceiling one morning alone in bed, I realized that I wasn’t afraid of love anymore.
When the words, “I’m not afraid of love” first came to my mind, I was surprised—and so I decided to invite them in for a bit.
I rolled them around with my tongue and saw how they tasted—I got up out of bed to see if they would fit my body.
And then I smiled, because I knew I had finally arrived.
My heart had finally healed, and in the process I found out exactly what kind of woman I am.
My heart had been unbound from the lace and it lay full, ripe and beating, waiting for the love who I have been dreaming of all along.
And I know that I may get hurt again, but that is okay.
Because I also believe that falling into a forever kind of love is possible.
While I am finally ready and open, I’m still not auditioning men for my lead man.
What I have to offer is truly special and not meant to be in the hands of just anyone.
So when a man finally does step to me, because he values all of the work that I have done on myself (he himself may have been on a similar journey) I will be in the place to offer him the most valuable thing that I can think of.
Myself and my love.
“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: flickr/Elsbeth Cool