I was having a few drinks with an old friend the other day, and I randomly asked her this question. “What kind of person am I?”
It wasn’t a rhetorical question, in that moment I was genuinely curious as to what others thought about me as a person. I like to believe I know myself pretty well but needed a honest outside perspective. This friend was the perfect person to ask because she knew me since high school but wasn’t in my core group of friends. We’re close enough to know each other, but not so close that our opinions become subjective and perspective blurred.
She said I can come off as cold– a little aloof, a little detached, and keep to myself. This is funny because if you read my writings I’m far from cold and unfeeling but a few people have told me this in my lifetime. My mom, recently my brother, and now my friend. And I began to think about why people perceive me as cold and standoffish when I carry so much love inside.
I spent most of my childhood reading behind closed doors. I would occasionally play video games and “store” with my younger brother and sister but most of my time I spent alone, my nose buried inside a book and daydreaming about stories and characters. I preferred being alone. I guess it’s just the way God made me, a recluse reader- sometimes a writer.
Then my friend also added that she saw me act mean to so many guys in high school that I had to laugh out loud. Yes that was me. The girl’s girl, the loyal friend- always choosing girlfriends over boys and thinking boys can be replaced at any given time. I loved my girlfriends- sometimes more than they deserved, I love my daughters, but I never freely loved a man without keeping a part to myself.
I fell in love- no lust, a few times–where my attraction jumps from one boy to another without any depth. I dated, talked on the phone, wrote letters, was given letters, kissed, went to prom and at one formal dance, I left my date prematurely because I found him annoying. I went home in my long black dress with no ounce of guilt. What a horrible date I was. I still feel bad for how I could’ve made him feel that night.
In college, this continued. I had guy friends who showed interest in me but I pretended I didn’t see it. If they come too close, I’ll back up. If we date, I’ll only give them a part of my heart, never whole. And if I really like a guy and something makes me feel that the feeling are not reciprocated, I’ll snip my feelings and never look back. Just like this, there weren’t many guys I couldn’t get over. Some took a bit longer, but I was always in control over my emotions. Or so I thought, until now.
Looking back, my defenses were up high because I knew how deeply I can love and feel pain. I was scared. Perhaps I learned from all those lonesome readings- the Jane Eyres and Wuthering Heights– that love is painful, that lovers are ripped apart and heroines are left to cry alone. So I spent my entire life telling myself not to feel, but think and analyze. I always rationalized my feelings. It’s not love. It’s lust. It’s convenience. It’s regret. It’s fantasy. It’s game. It’s infatuation. It’s mystery. It’s passion. It’s sex. It’s youth. But it’s not love.
I even walked into marriage thinking the same thing. Love is never permanent, it can always leave me. If you remember this post about how I took nearly 9 years to change my last name, you’ll know I was always scared to let go and just love freely. I always left room for that “just in case,” fearful of becoming that tragic heroine. And I often wondered how some women can change their last name right upon marriage because I couldn’t fathom this type of free, vulnerable, feeling not worrying, love.
I never trusted love. Therefore, my love was incomplete.
Recently God taught me this love that I have been fearful of my whole life but the catch is, it comes with pain. Love and pain exist together like twin sisters- one good and one evil. This crucial lesson in love that I blocked out and refused to feel since adolencence, hit me like a thousand bricks and I’m now left with no choice but to accept this love, this painful love. It’s so real that it’s beyond my control, and today after thirty-something years, I’m finally letting go and loving vulnerably. I have no choice. Finally, it’s beyond my control.
Today I surrender to His love, His pain and His plans for me.
Today I say ok God. You win.
You’ve broken down all my defenses.
Love me. I can finally love you back.