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the thought of actually saying "I love you" makes me feel incredibly vulnerable, so vulnerable in-fact, that I feel emotionally naked.
My partner, Kind Man, is on the other side of the continent and I'm not going to lie, I'm struggling with the distance. At first I enjoyed the space and the freedom that came with being alone, but then when the chaos of moving started to settle, I started to notice his absence. I missed him. But this blog is not about long-distant relationships,
or even about us, but about my inability to tell him that I love him. He tells me all the time. My usual response is to make a joke that he has "love goggles" on, or that he's made an error. I don't know why it's so hard for me to accept his love - which he gives freely and without condition - but the thought of actually saying "I love you" makes me feel incredibly vulnerable, so vulnerable in-fact, that I feel emotionally naked.
Now, I'm a strong, independent woman who has survived a toxic marriage, depression, confidence problems and to be honest, my life has been very privileged. I've done an enormous amount of inner work. But the simple act of letting my man tell me of his love and me returning it is terrifying. I feel a great well of fear around my heart space and it's like there's this block there. It's as if I let my walls down and let him love me and love him return, something bad will happen; that I'll lose him and I'll be hurt and let down, again.
Historically, I fell in love with men who were emotionally unavailable and not one of them loved me in return in the way I deserved. They couldn't see the potential that we could share in the way I did. But ironically, I have this relationship with Kind Man that is everything that I have ever wanted and there's still a block. Of course, he is infinitely patient and doesn't expect me to say it in return - even after nearly four years - but what he does is holds that space for me to crack open my heart a little bit more each time. He's not pressuring me. He's not having expectations and getting angry when I can't say it. He's secure enough in his own feelings that it's allowing me to find it in my own time - isn't that what unconditional love is? Loving without expectation.
What I'm discovering is that life takes a lot of emotional courage; that is, to create any change in our lives we need to dig into the courage that sits just below the surface, bubbling, anticipating our decision to change that job, start studying, leave a partner or even to let love in and live the lives we only dream about. Some people find this well of emotional courage an easy thing to access, but for me, I find it a challenge to fully expose my vulnerability to attack, hurt, criticism and disappointment.
It doesn't make any logical sense that I'm afraid of being loved and showing that I love someone else. But I do know that instead of letting love drive my feelings, words and actions, I'm letting fear take charge and the only person who can step through this fear-based threshold into security and happiness is me. It takes emotional courage for me to hear "I love you" and accept it with grace and humility but also takes emotional courage to rip down the barriers and fears surrounding my heart and tell him how I feel without expectation that the world will end. And so, just for today, I choose courage.
© Alyssa Curtayne, 2020
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