It seemed like a simple enough idea at the time.
I hadn’t seen the new man in my life much that week, so rather than sending the generic “Hey, how are you?” text, I thought I would draft an email. Really express myself. Share and try to connect.
It would be reminiscent of an old-fashioned love letter. I am a writer after all.
Yeah, so much for that. I wrote the first paragraph and proceeded to delete one after the other after the other. I began analyzing everything I was writing. If I said that, I sounded too emotional. The other thing made me sound desperate. And that one? That just made me sound crazy.
In the end, I couldn’t say anything more than, “Hey, how are you?” And, that’s when it hit me. I blog about my life for anyone and everyone to read, but I was scared to death to let the one man who mattered see the real me.
Ironically, while drinking my morning coffee a few days later, I happened upon the end of “Cinderella.” That’s when I heard it:
“This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take—to be seen as we truly are.”
Well, I may not believe in fairy tales, but the princess was certainly onto something here. Who knew she was so profound?
I spent 20 years of marriage trying to be someone I’m not. It’s taken me four years of divorce to figure out who I am, and more importantly, to be okay with that person. I can’t say that I’ve perfected the art of self-love, but I’m getting there. Of course, it’s a whole different story when you bring someone else into the picture.
Dating, like building any other new relationship, requires us to reveal ourselves to another. And it can be a struggle every time. The reality is, we all have parts we’d rather not put on display. It’s something I try to emphasize to my children: Everyone has their weaknesses, and everyone struggles with something.
It’s a hard lesson to teach a middle-schooler as she is dealing with “girl drama.” It can become even more difficult as our children get older and are navigating more significant issues. Especially as they discover that not just children struggle with self-doubt. Yes, even adults publicly declare their disdain for things to somehow prove they are better, or smarter, or more perfect. It’s all a matter of insecurity, I continue to profess.
Nobody is perfect.
And yet, at some point in our lives, we must reveal our true identities. If we are going to sustain any long-term relationship, we must allow someone to see us as we are. Certainly, we can go on pretending we are someone we are not, but the strain of doing so will eventually catch up to us. We will become someone we do not recognize, and at some point, want to find ourselves again.
We often hear about the importance of focusing on ourselves. While it can be a difficult concept for many to grasp, it’s vital for our well-being. If we can’t be happy with ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to be? And to be truly happy, we must be who we are.
Of course, being happy with ourselves and being enough are not necessarily the same thing. Being enough is believing that someone will accept us as we are. With all of our flaws and weaknesses. With the extra 10 (okay 20) pounds, and stretch marks from having twins. With the realities of menopause and the scars of divorce. Being enough is about being able to say, “This is who I am. Take me or leave me.”
Being vulnerable enough to say, or even think, these words can be terrifying. It oftentimes seems easier to hide away from the world and never let anyone get close enough to see us at our worst, especially when others have seen us as we really are and walked away. It takes great strength to put ourselves back out there and risk being rejected again.
A friend recently said to me, “In order for a heart to love again, it has to be ready to be broken again.” I’m not sure any of us is ever ready for heartbreak, but I definitely understand the message. We can’t find love, or even genuine happiness, if we’re not willing to put ourselves out there. And, yes, it might not work out. That’s the reality we have to face.
Then, once we have it all worked out, we must decide if we can take the other person as he or she really is. It’s only fair. We have to take them with their imperfections, just as we want them to do for us. That’s the final step before saying, “Shall we? Yes, we shall.”
I suppose only then can we have our happily ever after. At least, I hope…
Author: Jillian Reese
Editor: Nicole Cameron