Well… 2020 has been a real dumpster fire hasn’t it? After working my ass off to rebuild my business after two bouts with cancer, I lost everything (again!), overnight, when COVID hit. If you’ve followed my social media at all, you know that I’ve filled my time with working out and chalk art. But I also filled my time with something else… falling in love. It was amazing. And fucking awful…
The last time I fell in love I was 16. I didn't really have any love in my life, so when he expressed interest, it was exciting and new. It felt good. But he was 11 years older than me. And he was my boss. So we had to keep it a secret. Which was kind of exciting in a way. And also, felt kind of normal, having never had anyone treat me properly or tell me I deserved better.
I fell hard. Followed him when he moved his job and started commuting an hour each way just so I could continue seeing him. It went on for a year and a half. I was convinced that once I turned 18, it would be legal and then we would get married.
But he had other plans. 6 months shy of my 18th birthday he broke it off with me. Said he couldn't keep doing it because it was shameful for him. Embarrassing. But the truth was, he'd found someone else his age. I found out from someone at work. I was beyond devastated. I didn't want to live anymore. I had no one to talk to because the whole relationship had been a secret and I had absolutely no coping skills whatsoever. So I went on a rampage. Drinking and partying... anything that would numb the pain. I ended up pregnant a couple of months later with my oldest daughter, who LEGIT saved my life. She gave me a focus beyond myself which I really needed. But I never really grieved that loss. I never really acknowledged my heart and the pain. At 17, I just shut my heart off. That's all I knew how to do.
So this was a big deal. To, as an adult, after 25 years of protection and survival tactics and a super shitty, controlling and abusive marriage, allow myself to open my heart and fall in love again. I tried not to. I really did. Used all my tactics... I ran away repeatedly. He followed after. I threw grenades.. He, somehow, dismantled them. In so many ways it looked like I'd found someone it was safe to fall for. But a part of me always knew...
I needed it. I needed to fall. I needed to experience allowing my heart to open. And there was a lot that was really different and welcome. There was affection. There was conversation. There was laughter. There was adventure. There was fun. He wasn't openly trying to control or own me. It all looked so different on the surface, but something about it felt so familiar. And to be honest, with the life that I'd had up until that point, I don't know I would have been brave enough to fall if he'd actually been emotionally available. That might have been too scary for me. So in a way, it makes sense.
A part of me thinks that maybe, at one point, he did love me. Maybe, at one point, he really did mean what he said. Maybe he wanted to try and be better. But he couldn't sustain it. And as time went on, it became obvious to me that he was doing things behind my back. And things that he would say and do were giving way to who he really was. I could tell, every time he called me his girlfriend, and every time he'd say “I love you” that there was conflict. It didn't feel right. So it became clear to me, for my own energetic and emotional survival, that it was time go. But this time, I didn't run away out of fear, which had been my pattern for so many years. This time I walked away, back towards myself and what I know I deserve.
Did it hurt? Oh my god yes. It hurt so much at times I couldn't bare it. Because I was not only grieving the loss of who I thought he was and a love I thought I had, but I was grieving what I'd never allowed myself to grieve so many years before. All of the feelings of not being enough, of not being lovable, of being shameful, of being betrayed, of being chosen over... they all came flooding back with such intensity that I was kind of rendered catatonic at times.
Do I regret it? No. Because even in the worst of the pain, where I was doubled over on the ground, holding my stomach trying not to throw up, there was relief. It physically hurt my insides, and terrified me. But I was so relieved to let it go. I'd be smiling through my tears knowing that I was finally letting that 16 year old girl grieve her loss. But I was also letting the 43 year old me grieve a loss as well. So it was a double whammy. It hurt like a motherfucker. But it was cathartic AF.
Does it still hurt? Yes. Not nearly as much and not nearly as frequently. Time, thankfully, is a thief. But I'm actually okay feeling the pain. And I keep remembering those moments where I'd look over at him and think to myself “Holy shit I am so in love with this man.” It felt amazing. And that's what my focus is on now. On trying to get back into that state of being totally open and in love... without needing a man to be the focus. To instead, strive for those feelings towards and within myself. Because in all honesty, the real loss wasn't losing him. It was losing the feeling of being in love. And I can choose that for myself every day, in all that I do. And now I can feel, with certainty, that one day I'm going to have those feelings towards someone and they're going to actually have those feelings towards me too.
And thanks to this experience... I'll be ready.