Afraid to Love
Recently I’ve fallen for a man, but am afraid I will get wounded again as I have in the past. How do I know this is really love?
As you may know there a variety of loving styles ranging from the passion and desire lovers feel, to the tender protective nature a parent experiences with a child, to the supportive and accepting atmosphere that friends give to one another, to the gratitude and appreciation a child has for a mother and father. And, last but not least, there is the mystical rapture and communion some of us feel in relation to spirit, God, or the divine.
So, there it is, the basic styles of love in our lives. It sounds simple, but you, like I, know that often times it isn’t. Because what we call love can also be filled with episodes of heartbreak, rejection, fear, distance, anger, and more. How can this be? The answer is simple, because these reactions are basically indicators of where we are at in the spectrum of love in our lives. They tell us, whether what we need in any moment is to love or to be loved.
First of all, each of us needs, and in many respects deserves love in our lives. It is what helps us thrive and grow as a child, what gives us a measure of comfort, stability, and joy, so that we move out into life trusting others, and trusting ourselves to make our way through the tangles and thorns that life can be full of in a successful, loving, and undamaged way. When we don’t get this, and many people don’t, it creates areas of uncertainty, vulnerability, and contradictory behaviors that can cause us to retreat in the face of love, even if it is real. So, when fear, distance, and anger come up, it is usually because we dip back in time to an experience where we needed love and felt we didn’t get it.
Now this is important, because as children we usually don’t have very good skills for coping with this. But as adults we have other tools we can access. The main tool is to recognize what’s happening, that we are retreating to a place in our lives and in ourselves where we need love. And the best thing there is to stay aware of this process, and to find a way to sit with ourselves, to be with our thoughts and feelings in a safe, open, accepting, and loving place and space. This is what I encourage you to do at this time. After you fill your own cup with love, you will be in a better place to evaluate this situation.