A while ago, I blogged about how I’d managed to overcome a lifetime of fear when it came to love and how this had transformed my life. Here’s an extract from that blog post:
“Certain events from my childhood left me terrified of loss. So, when it came to my relationships in my teens and early twenties, I created a persona who often didn’t seem to care at all – my own emotional suit of armour to protect me from future hurt. In my mind, this alter-ego I’d rustled up was a wise-cracking, fun-loving, free spirit. In reality, she was just the front for a very frightened child to hide behind. And the irony is, I lost out, big time. By holding back, brushing away, and hiding behind my mask, my life and relationships felt small and governed by fear. What I thought would make me feel safer, actually just left me feeling even more afraid. A year ago, I set out on a quest to find True Love. And by that I don’t mean Mister Right. I mean that I realised I’d been spending way too much time in fear and wanted to see if I could find my way to the opposite end of the spectrum. This quest sent me on a spiritual journey that took me to churches, temples, dance and yoga classes, meditation mats, the ocean, forests, book stores, lecture halls and even Hemel Hempstead. At the end of it I felt transformed. And I’d finally figured out how to conquer fear. . .You have to surrender yourself to Love. The biggest of all the ironies I discovered on my year of exploration was that the thing that had terrified me the most – the thing I’d always assumed would leave me feeling vulnerable as hell and wide open to hurt – is actually the most empowering and liberating transformative step you can take. When you come from a place of Love, you see everyone as equal. When you see everyone as equal, you don’t need to fear others.”
I can remember quite clearly the moment that I closed myself off to love.
I was fifteen years old, and my mum had just told me that she was leaving my dad and moving out.
The night before she left, I lay in my bed feeling sick with pain and fear. Part of me wanted to run into her room, tell her I loved her and beg her not to leave.
But I stayed where I was.
I didn’t go to her.
I didn’t tell her that I loved her.
I didn’t beg her not to leave.
I still have such vivid memories of that night. And I can still recall the physical sensation of shutters going up around my heart.
In the midst of my shock and sorrow, I can remember thinking to myself that I must never allow this to happen to me again.
I must never trust someone so utterly and completely with my love – because if they left me too I would be destroyed.
Although I went on to fall in love and have serious relationships with men, my love for them was always tainted with a morbid fear that they would one day leave.
And so, on some level, I always remained guarded. I was always mentally prepared for the worst. I always held a part of me back, just in case.
I thought it would make me feel safe.
And then I went on my quest to find True Love – and I found and experienced a deep, spiritual love – and realised that actually, we are very wrong to compartmentalise love in the way we do.
The only true love is unconditional love.
And, in my experience, we can only experience true happiness when we love unconditionally in all areas of our life.
The greatest gift my life has given me is the unconditional love I feel for my son.
But I had been missing out on so much by letting fear have such an influence on my romantic relationships.
Then, this year, I was given the opportunity to put all that I had learnt about love into practise.
Right when I was least expecting it, and certainly wasn’t looking for it, I met a man.
Instantly, I felt a powerful connection to him – a sense that we were definitely supposed to meet.
And instead of feeling guarded, I opened right up, right away.
In his brilliant book, Loveability, Robert Holden talks about how unconditional love between two people creates a space where it is totally safe to be yourself.
For the first time in my life, this is exactly how I felt – safe to be myself, without any fear of being judged or made to feel stupid.
I felt no need to put on any kind of act or pretence in order to protect myself.
I could just be me.
And let me tell you, when you are loved for just being you, there is no finer feeling.
And when another person shows you their truth and their vulnerability – when they allow you to really see them for who they are and love them for who they are – it is a beautiful experience.
It is like watching a flower bloom.
But of course, it’s all very well loving unconditionally when life takes on the soft focus glow of a rom-com montage. The real test is if the relationship ends.
Recently, my relationship with this man finished.
The ending was unexpected, unforseen and brutal in its swiftness.
It left me feeling physically bereft.
My worst nightmare had come true.
I had finally opened myself up to love completely and I had lost him.
But the strangest thing happened.
Rather than drowning in self pity or bitterness; rather than telling myself, ‘I told you so!’; rather than putting up all of my defences again – I just opened my heart even wider.
This is another thing that I’ve learnt – when you love a person unconditionally, you feel no sense of possession over them. You have no demands.
It becomes all about the giving, not the taking.
Even if that means giving them your love and blessing when they leave.
And in the relatively brief period of time we were together I was given so much.
So, even though I’m still feeling the loss of his physical presence in my life acutely and my first instinct would be to describe that feeling as being broken-hearted, that would be wrong.
Because my heart isn’t ‘broken’ at all.
When you share unconditional love with another, your heart expands, grows wings and flies.
And even if that person leaves, their love remains imprinted on your heart forever – glowing like stars and guiding you through the darkness of loss to the light of happier times to come.
Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth:
‘You owe me!’
Look what happens with
A love like that!
It lights the whole sky!