(From Feb 2011)
An anniversary of sorts passed recently, and I found myself re-reading some of my older pieces. A couple of years ago I wrote a piece on here that ended with the following words:
Belief in you, in what was, has held me together through my darkest, loneliest, most horrifying hours; has forced me not to abandon all hope. Belief in you and what is, and what can be, will get me through now.
Thank you, for the most precious gift of yourself. Thank you for teaching me that love doesn’t have to be degrading or painful or ugly; that it truly can be beautiful and breathtaking and glorious. But thank you especially, for giving me back to me. For showing me, for allowing me to be, finally, who I truly am. And for loving me anyway. Those things I will happily never forget.
When I read those words now, I am…embarrassed. Even somewhat ashamed. That I was that gullible. That for so much of my life I wouldn’t really love anyone or allow them to love me — out of fear. Fear that they would reject me. Fear that “he” would return one day. Fear that he wouldn’t. Fear that — whatever. Just plain fear. Like one of my favorite quotes from the movie Strictly Ballroom, I only half-lived. (The quote is: A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.)
For the majority of my life I believed that this one person could fix everything, was the answer to EVERYTHING. It was useful, yes, because the belief that if he was there none of the horrible things that happened would have done did actually help me survive, but it was stupid, too, because, well, he was just a guy. Bad things happen sometimes, no matter what you do or who is there to help you.
And I think I dealt so badly with the end of my “dream” because, well…rather than teaching me what I wrote in that second paragraph, he actually reinforced the opposite, made love something in which I could no longer believe; and made me believe that the little piece of me I thought was okay really wasn’t. I was back to being nothing. A nothing who had believed in a lie; who had put a lie on a pedestal and revered it, hid behind it, rather than face life head on. That was my fault, not his. Yes, he called me and asked me to play the game, but I could have said no. At times I think I should have said no – a long time ago.
However, had all of that not happened, where would I be today? Certainly not where I am. I know now that what the “books” say is true: no one else can make you happy. No one else can give you feelings of self-worth. You must believe in yourself. It all comes from inside. Or it doesn’t. The choice is yours.
I think I am making much better choices these days. While the past haunts me occasionally (maybe “taunts” me is a better choice of words), it no longer rules me. It no longer destroys me. I don’t need someone else to make it okay for me to be who I am. Perhaps, too, I have learned to recognize the right places and people to whom I should give love, respect, admiration and trust.
And I have truly, finally, learned that love can be real – and lovely; that if it feels painful or degrading, it isn’t love. A simple lesson, I am sure some of you will say. But for me…well, that has been one of the hardest lessons of all.
Perhaps there is hope for me yet.