Dear old me,
Hi there darlin’.
As I begin this letter, I can feel the tension rising in my body, I know that there are important things for me to tell you. I know the tension comes up because I am tapping in to your energy. It is an energy that I used to carry that marked the pain of the desperation to find someone to love me. I know that I no longer carry such things and I am grateful to be able to come here today to tell you about it.
I know how brave you are, and yet I also know that you are incredibly scared. You try so hard and you give so much and yet, you seem to always fall short. You live two or three different lives at the same time and somehow manage it. You move in between worlds as though you are a ghost; there, but never fully there.
Always in the back of your mind there is a voice that tells you to toughen up. But there is another that tells you to bend over backwards for the one you love. You talk often of being out there dancing on your own. You want to be assured that you aren’t and the reassuring words are spoken, and yet, you know that they are untrue. The truth that you can’t face is that the one you love and care for, the one who you have placed at the number one spot in your life hasn’t done the same for you, and never will. I am really…really sorry to tell you that.
I’m also really sorry to tell you that it won’t be the last time it happens.
You will fall over and over again, you will struggle and there will be many, many tears shed over men who are not deserving of them. You will wonder, time and time again if it’s you, if you are the problem. You will wonder what’s wrong with you and why it happens every time.
And then, you’ll put on a brave face and do it all over again.
It won’t matter that you are the one who breaks up each time, the truth is, you break up because you’re scared that you will really be seen this time, and this time he will discover the truth. You’re afraid that you’ll be found out as the unworthy wretch that you think you are that it’s really true that you are unloveable. Or you’ll leave because you discover that the person you’re with just doesn’t match the image that you created for him and he just never will. You’ll leave because you tried a thing and discovered that didn’t fit either, that you just weren’t built for the cold heartlessness of the sexual games people play. Or, you’ll leave because you feel as though you aren’t valued and it hurts. It hurts because, deep down inside, you actually believe you are without value…because somehow, some way, you believe that you have been told that so often that it must be true.
And each time you break up with someone, you are the one who ends up with a broken heart.
Each time, you will learn. Yes, it’s the same lesson repeated over and over. Don’t worry about that. You learn the same lesson each time because it takes that many layers to reach the core of you. And that, my dear, is what you’re after.
You’ll wonder a lot of things; why you do what you do, why relationships or pursuing relationships seems to be an addiction, why no one else seems to struggle the way you do, how you can go out there each and every day and act like you have it all together when you really don’t. Why you can’t seem to go for more than a week or two before you head back into the dating sites in search of “the one”.
And even though you speak the words “you are the one you’ve been waiting for” so often, you will wonder why if you are “the one”, it just never seems to be enough.
You’ll start to be embarrassed. Once you “come out” to your friends as the serial monogamist that you are. You’ll feel as though all of your friends are looking at you with pity, as though they wonder why such a wonderful person as you can’t seem to find a man to love her. You’ll cringe when they tell you that “one day” someone will show up who will love you right. You wonder how your friends are so lucky and happy…and why you’re just not.
Little by little, the “relationships” you try to insert yourself into will become shorter and shorter and pretty soon, they will only last a day or two. Slowly, you will begin to realize that the reason no one else treasures your heart and treats it gently is because you don’t.
You’ll begin to understand that if you don’t treasure your heart, no one else will and then…this will kill you…one day, you’ll decide that maybe your dad was right all those years ago when he said “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free”. You’ll cringe when you realize that all the stuff that mom said about valuing your body and saving it for someone who was worthy of it…was actually right. That, as much fun as you’ve had out there exploring, in the end you just ended up alone and without the love that you desired. You’ll realize that you have fallen in love many times, but you have never been truly loved the way you wanted to be.
And then you’ll realize that it starts with you.
And that’s when it will get kind of weird.
Once you begin to see all the times you have betrayed yourself and have been extremely careless with your heart, you’ll tire of the games and the manipulations. You’ll look back and see the patterns that have been there and how you were taught to love others incorrectly. You’ll start to examine each and every choice that you’ve made, you’ll find the lessons and you’ll come to realize that you are worth so much more. Even though you’ve been telling yourself that all along, you’ll find that finally, you really believe it.
Suddenly, it will become easy to say no.
You’ll still slip from time to time, after all, there are still plenty of fish in the sea, and truth be told, you really can’t go that long without dating but suddenly, you’ll find that you aren’t interested in pursuing someone who doesn’t give back. You’ll pay attention to the red flags that you used to ignore and you’ll begin to question….a lot. Others, you will find, may walk away from YOU and you find yourself grateful rather than heartbroken. You’ll begin to use the term “angel filter” when things don’t work out and you will be grateful for the bullet you just dodged. You will hope that one day you find someone to share your life with, but you will stop being in such a hurry and you’ll begin to enjoy your life the way it is.
You’ll love your friends and you’ll hang out with them. You’ll treasure each and every moment of your life and your independence and you’ll just be ok. You’ll accept that when the time is right, perhaps you’ll meet someone worthy of you and you will be astounded at the turn around; astounded that you have actually applied a standard of behavior to someone else, rather than accepting their crumbs.
And then, beyond belief, you’ll start meeting men who are willing to start out with friendship and take things slow. You’ll find that you are willing to spend more time getting to know a person, to see if he is the right fit. You’ll begin to want to cultivate male friends (as in really…just friends!) You’ll find yourself refreshed by the idea that you can stop playing the little girl and accept your role as the full grown woman that you are.
One day, you’ll meet a man that you call Krypto…because he’s everything you want, and so you worry that he’ll be like Kryptonite to you, that you’ll lose yourself again. He looks good “on paper”, but you know enough to not to fall for appearances. You’ll know it’s his behavior that you want to pay attention to. You will gather your friends around you and you will ask them to remind you to keep your head and to treasure your heart.
And funnily enough, you’ll wait.
You’ll wait to see if HE calls YOU, you’ll wait to see if HE asks YOU out on a second date. You’ll be surprised and delighted when he does. Even more amazing, he accepts it when you decline the invitation to go back to his place on the 2nd date…and he asks you out again.
After your 3rd date, you’re a goner, but you’ll view him realistically. You will play it cool, while you take a good look at him and you will see him “warts and all”. You will ask yourself if you are willing to accept the dark places within him and if he will accept your darkness too. You’ll discover that he not only accepts your darkness, he adores it, he understands it and he embraces it. He holds you when you cry, he doesn’t leave or tease you or get mad; he just holds you and bears witness to your tears.
You’ll be afraid every step of the way.
Yet, you will face your fears. You will recognize that when old habits pop up and you want to bail, you will have to allow yourself to be vulnerable in order to truly love him. You’ll find that you speak the same language, understand the same things, have the same take on the world and you will choose to love him each and every day.
You will find that you WERE the one you were waiting for so that you could love him and he will make you forget that you were ever heartbroken. You will discover that all of the heartbreak was worth it, just to find him and you will never want to let him go.
I know…I know…it sounds like a fairy tale…and it is. It is one that you will have created and one that I…your older wiser self am living now.
So, I will tell you my dear, old me; thank you. Thank you for continuing to try, thank you for putting yourself through so much, thank you for learning what you learned and doing what you’ve done. Your mistakes, your heartbreak, your incredible strength and bravery got me here and I love you for it.
With so much love,
Older, wiser me.