Relationships have always been a really confusing area for me. I was six years old when my parents divorced. And although it was the least volatile separation in the history of separations, I believe it may have resulted in or at least contributed to a rocky foundation for my perception of love. It’s in no way my parents’ fault, I am simply objectively observing that it may have affected me, just as it affects many others similarly. Throughout high school I watched the majority of people my age fall into relationships as though it was just the thing to do. I watched closely as my sister experienced the ups and downs of having a “high school sweetheart”, while almost every adult relationship around me came crumbling down. Simultaneously, nearly every girlfriend of mine was losing her virginity. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it all. I was never judging anyone, I was just sitting back and taking it all in.
Observing the world of relationships around me left me feeling terrified of love, and even more afraid of being alone.
The idea of going on a date, paralyzed me with fear. I was desperate for every encounter with the opposite sex to be finished before it began. I was a cute, sweet, genuine girl, very involved in school, cheerleader, great grades and people skills, but when it came to interacting with a guy… I was a complete nervous wreck.
At 18, just a year out of high school, I found myself in a complete whirlwind of emotions… I was in love. Whatever love is to an 18 year old girl on spring break in Panama City Beach. Long story short, he lives in Florida, and I live in what I told him was “near Chicago” at the time (Rockford). We spent 9 months writing letters to one another, then he eventually left the beach and made Rockford his home for over a year. This relationship, although young and vibrant, introduced me to demons that I had never met before. He became another drug to me. I was addicted to his attention, once again attempting to fill this void of self-love. Every move he made became my life.
The hunger I felt for love was one that he could not fulfill, no matter how much he loved me.
We were young, and we both had many layers of ourselves that we needed to experience and examine, and I slowly realized this would not be possible if we stayed together. The break up, absolutely broke me. It broke us both. It was simply one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but I knew deep down, that I had to go. There are certain circumstances in life that may pull you so tightly, and may serve a purpose for some time, but all it takes is that tiny voice of intuition to whisper and whisper and whisper, when suddenly it shouts! And you have no choice but to listen. I learned a great deal about myself and about life in those few years. I am forever grateful for that abundant life experience, and I wish him the absolute best.
From that point forward I was extremely cautious. It took me a couple of years to feel like I could even entertain the idea of connecting with someone new. I was terrified that if I did find someone, I would fall right back into the person I used to be. Jealous, insecure, controlling.
I hated that girl, and I never wanted to be that way, ever again.
I gave it a halfway-try once more when I dated a guy from Canada, who was living here in Rockford only temporarily. Looking back, I notice a trend. I was always so incredibly drawn to anyone that had the potential of being long-distances from me. Maybe this is because I’m terrified of commitment, or maybe it’s a bit romantic… You can decide…
After dating a few months, this guy invites me to meet his family in Canada. Buys me a plane ticket, and makes some fun plans for us. What happens next? I call him a day before the flight, cancel and break up with him… Yikes.
This guy was genuine, and kind and was ready to have me in his life… but I just wasn’t ready. Part of me thought I was crazy to be doing this, and the other part of me felt that it absolutely had to be done. I remember crystal clear the reasoning I gave him for the breakup, “I need to work on myself.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew it was true and it would not be fair for me to go any further with this relationship.
Next came “The Bachelor”, and we all know we can hardly call that an attempt at love.
So that was that. At 24, all I knew was that I didn’t know how to love someone, and I certainly didn’t know how to love myself.
I decided that I would not seek love anymore. I knew that if I was going to get “sober” from it all, I needed to learn to love myself from within. And the only way I could do that, was to stop looking for love in all of these other places. I needed to look inward and inward only.