He spoke to me that late summer evening—with the windows down and a half set sun to the west, the warm wind and peachy blue all around—of my seemingly nonexistent fear.
“I like how you’re not afraid of what could come from this.”
I think I said something like, “It isn’t that I’m not afraid, I’m just open to finding out anyways.” Truthfully, I had no idea how afraid I really was or would become in the months following that magical moment.
I was convinced I could walk away or evade if necessary, that I would be okay whatever happened, and, truthfully, I would have been. But as things progress—as love grows—so too, do the wounds we’ve acquired in our previous experiences with it.
They beg us to look at them, to reassess them, to protect ourselves from the outside forces that inflicted them upon us in the first place. It is a natural reaction to pain to flinch or turn away; it’s an evolutionary trait that has helped humans survive as long as we have on this sometimes very harsh planet, to protect ourselves from the many pitfalls that can lead to our destruction.
In love, however, this trait can become the armor that keeps us isolated from the opportunity to connect and heal with other human beings.
As the connection grew, so did my fears, and so did those old wounds. They began to fill my vision with pain and sorrow and tell me that every time I’ve ever felt like I was not enough; every time I’ve ever given myself to someone who was unable to receive me; every time I’ve acted in self-destructive ways and placed a knife in my own heart and the heart of someone I loved would be repeated—if I dared to open myself up again.
I was deeply afraid. So afraid, indeed, that I found myself looking back at the cliff I’d already dove off of, as if I could somehow summon the ground back to my feet, or reach out and grab a branch and bring the whole thing to a halt.
Once we are entangled, the untangling leaves a mark on both parties. Nothing is ever the same once we’ve been filled up by another person’s love, regardless of how it turns out in the end, and sometimes, the outcome leaves us in a pile on the floor. Yet, every time I’ve ventured to the edge and taken that leap, I’ve found another part of myself in its depths.
So, this time, I am listening closely and taking notes, not just as a way to create a safety net or to be on high alert for danger, but as a way to discover the hidden treasures offered to me when I open myself up to the nuance of relationship, and the many ways in which love can teach me.
I am taking the gifts given to me by my past and turning them into treasures with examination, integration, and release.
How are my past relationship experiences shaping my reactions to my present ones?
How can this hold me back, and how can I use it as a tool to create a better dynamic between myself and my current partner?
Our fears are not unnecessary, and boundaries can help us choose how we would like to grow, like training a vine to climb one part of a trellis so we have more room to fill our garden beds with a variety of experiences.
A sense of deep presence can help us react to the needs of the moment we’re in, as independent of the moment before. It’s the finest way I’ve found to allow myself to slowly let go of the fear of being emotionally wrecked in another relationship—along with meaningful communication with my partner.
Sharing these fears has brought us closer together, even when, internally, I’m flailing about, trying to find a reason to reach out and stop myself. When both people engage in this level of receptivity and kindness, the magic flourishes, and the connection deepens.
I am so thankful to my past self for taking that first step on a journey with another human that has been enlightening on an individual level, as well as a shared one.
The best love is one in which both people are intent to learn and grow within themselves through its presence, in which both people take their wounds and transform them into the gateway to the other’s heart, instead of using them as a reason to build higher walls.