If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been stuck in a negative headspace for the last few days, and are obsessively trying to find some article that tells you what you’re feeling is okay and that others feel it too. Your life is probably in an alright place, if we’re being honest. You’re most likely in a new relationship, or close to being in one, and while its a good change it’s still causing anxiety. Chances are you’re ruminating on unrealistic thoughts (that still manage to feel realistic to you) and are seemingly in a downward spiral, all while trying to maintain the image that you have everything under control. Still, you know nothing is under control. You’re questioning if you’re even capable of reestablishing a secure self, and loving another again, especially after the traumas you’ve been through. You’re looking for validation from anyone, anywhere. Look no further; this article was created with you solely in mind.
Let’s start at the beginning of this, where you feel you first lost your confidence in yourself. Maybe it stems from the parent or caregiver who abandoned you, abused you, or simply worked too many hours to be there for you like you needed as a child. Maybe you placed trust in a friend or family member or internet stranger who was seemingly harmless, but took from you the very thing they never had a right to take. Maybe it stems from your first or second love, or maybe even third love, who promised to give you the world at a time when you were vulnerable and needed support most, just to pull the rug out from underneath you when you had finally poured all your love and trust into them.
Whatever the initial cause, you look back at that time and try to find where you went wrong, what you could’ve done differently, how this is your fault. From there, you pick apart every little trauma that occurred after, looking for validation that the emotional turmoil you are drowning in today stems from your own poor choices and rose-colored perception of the world. You go on to pick apart yourself mentally, emotionally, physically. You avoid the mirrors when they’re in front of you. You feel uncomfortable when another compliments you. You’re constantly thinking your friends and lover could do better than you. You’ve convinced yourself that you are unworthy of the love and support you secretly crave, and when someone tries to offer it to you, you’re sure their intentions are not good. You put up walls and avoid phone calls and texts. You try to portray yourself as ultra-independent, and work hard to convince yourself of that (just as much as you try to convince everyone else). I promise you, though it is impossible to believe it right now, the events that occurred for you to be in the place you are right now were not of your own doing, and it’s not fair to place that weight on yourself.
It’s not your fault your parent or caregiver abandoned you. It’s not your fault they abused you. It’s not your fault they had to work so many hours they were unable to provide the emotional support you needed, too. It’s not your fault you were bighearted and trusting of the wrong friend or family member or seemingly harmless internet stranger. It’s not your fault they physically or sexually assaulted you. It’s not your fault they raped you. It’s not your fault you fell in love with the Prince Charming image a man (or woman) portrayed to you, the only image you ever had of them, until they decide you were hooked and showed you the real them.
It’s not your fault you wanted emotional support. It’s not your fault you wanted someone to care about you. It’s not your fault you wanted to feel like you belonged somewhere. It’s not your fault you wanted someone to love you. It’s not your fault if it happened to you more than once.
It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.
The events that occurred were out of your control. Deep down you and I both know that’s true. We also know you still feel guilt, shame, and remorse for those traumas, as if the fault rests solely on your shoulders. Chances are most of those traumas still remain a deep dark secret of yours, and you struggle to tell anyone about it now because you should’ve said something months or years ago, right? This train of thought isn’t helping you, and you know that, but you still can’t seem to break free of it. Even after all the work you put in to get yourself right, the insecurity keeps creeping back in.
Now let’s get back to the present.
Here you are, years later, and you’ve finally found someone you see a future with. They’re gentle and kind where you’ve only known anger and violence. They open the door for you, kiss your hand at the most random times, text you just to let you know they’re thinking about you. They listen when you talk, acknowledge the pain you’ve endured when you open up to them, and assure you they are here for you for good. You want to pretend you don’t need them, but you’re secretly hoping they’re the one that comes in and breaks down the walls you keep building. They renew your faith in a world that has only showed you betrayal, and you can’t wait to experience all of life’s little moments with them… But you’re scared.
You’re absolutely terrified at the idea of truly letting someone in and that fear has sparked more insecurities than you realized you had. So you open up to them and then close off, because you know you’re giving them more of yourself than you meant to. You intentionally delay your responses to texts and calls or act uninterested in the conversation, because you don’t want to come across as needy or codependent. You go through their social media to find proof they’re not as angelic as they seem. Maybe you even pick little fights here and there because it reminds you they are not the perfect person you built them up to be. Whatever it is, you’re actively working to prove they’re not the person they seem to be, because doing this is easier than being vulnerable and risking another heartbreak. At least this way, when they let you down (because everybody lets you down), it doesn’t hurt too bad.
But it’s still going to hurt in the end, should they ever let you down. And you can’t fully experience the love they’re trying to give you, one you’ve never known, if you are constantly fighting it. We can’t avoid the risk of love by keeping up barriers and still receive the reward as if we took the risk. You have to let down your walls or walk away from this altogether. To stay in the emotional state you’ve been stuck in for years or to create a positive change that just might pay off in the end. If hurt is a part of these two packaged deals anyways, wouldn’t it be better to give positive change a chance? Do you want to know how you allow yourself to feel peace instead of sit in your anxiety?
You have to give this, and yourself, time. I know it’s not the answer you were wanting, but it’s the truth. You have to give the other person time to prove to you they are not like the people who hurt you before. You have to give yourself time to prove you are capable of making sound decisions and trusting the right people. You have to give the relationship time to either prove a positive change or show it’s faults. There is risk to everything, but there is also reward. Allow yourself the time you need to heal. Make the positive changes you need to to achieve that healing, and you just might find yourself in a happier place months or years from now.
And yes, your feelings right now are valid. You are not the only one who feels them, and you will not feel this way forever.
Just give it time.