I’ve been feeling very vulnerable lately. Why? Who knows, but it doesn’t really matter, does it?
What matters is that I need to learn to be here when my body is screaming for to hide and bury my head beneath the covers and my mind is begging for to re-erect the barriers that once surrounded it.
I’m scared. For the first time in my entire journey, I’m truly scared of being abandoned. Again.
The feeling isn’t based on any reality. But that doesn’t matter. I was blindsided by a text after 16 years. I don’t have much faith in my view of reality.
I know I’m primed for these reactions: my dad moved across the country when I was 11, I had 13 friends die by my freshman year of college, and then there’s my ex-husband. Yeah, I’m no stranger to being left.
Early in my relationship with my fiance, I thought I worked through these issues. Adapted from the book:
It hasn’t been easy to be vulnerable again or to learn how to trust after my faith had been betrayed. It took me many months to open up again and I still find myself erecting a shield at times. My biggest challenge was not giving into to the fear of being abandoned again. This became clear about four months into my new relationship when I saw my boyfriend’s car pull up to the curb outside the airport where he was picking me up after a trip.
Relieved to see him, I reached up to give him a hug, “It’s great to see you.”
Hugging me back, “I missed you,” he replied.
Once inside the car, I admitted, “I halfway expected you not to show.”
He looked shocked, hurt. “Why would you think that?” he said, a hard edge sliding into his voice. “I told you I’d come get you.”
“I know,” I replied softly, feeling ashamed. “It’s just that last year…” I trailed off.
“I’m not him.”
Of course, I knew that on a rational level; I never consciously compared them. It was a matter of memories coursing through my bloodstream, igniting stress hormones that, in turn, sent false signals of impending doom. I also knew that this was dangerous territory; if I expected others to behave like my ex, eventually they would.
The truth? I had only worked through that because I wasn’t fully vulnerable. I don’t expect to be left anymore, but now it scares me. I’ve allowed it to scare me. I’m not holding back anything anymore and I’m only now realizing I still was. I knew that the upcoming marriage had that effect on my fiance. Now I’m realizing that it is having the same effect on me, only a few months later. I am allowing myself to fully feel the love I have for him. And, damn, that’s scary.
I’m realizing that I trust him now but that I might not yet fully trust myself. That’s a strange feeling.
So now here I am. Open and bleeding. No walls, no buried head. I need to learn to be here, to stay vulnerable, without allowing myself to panic and either hide or grasp too tightly. It’s not easy. It doesn’t feel safe.
I want reassurances. Promises. But the truth? That’s only a bandaid. I need to relax and breathe through my fear. I know I’ll be okay, I just need to do a better job of convincing myself. After all, the only true abandonment is when we abandon our true selves. And that’s one I can control.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
It will be okay.