Chasing Tails

{Beyond The Honeymoon}

My childhood self was a hopeless romantic, as well as a Selective Mute. I was very shy and very sensitive. And I think having the experience of being shut down when you try to speak, is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a child. I think getting in the way of the space a child needs to say whatever they need to say is a type of abuse that holds the whole of a child like a suffocating blanket. I think blankets are supposed to comfort- not close. And I think the process of opening up is ongoing, much like the bleeding way we prick ourselves when we operate under the belief that we deserve to be closed and quiet. But I also think wounds teach us more than scars. So I follow and observe my own wounds like a blossoming flower. And I’m thankful for the petals that open themselves up to me. It is in these openings, that I see the pieces of myself I’ve tried to discard along the way. I think this experience of feeling unable to speak, has paved the way for my writing ability. When you are not using your voice vocally, you tend to spend a lot of time observing and learning. So I developed an intense interest in people and the way they behave. I am mesmerized by them. I study them. And I study myself similarly. But I still have a lot of trauma around using my voice in certain situations. So its an ongoing process for me to speak and write my truth. Its an open wound. A part of my spiritual map. And I write much better than I speak because of this residual trauma. But I am not sad about that. I take gifts in whatever form they come in. I would rather feel beautiful on paper than not feel beautiful at all. And I always felt deeply connected to the concept of romantic love. It seemed to be a part of  my biological make-up. I day dreamed about it. I used to wish I liked cartoons so I could identify with other kids. But they did nothing for me. My creativity was sparked by fantasies about love and partnership. When I started this blog, I said that I was about fullness. And now I see how much love includes fullness. So maybe it is the same thing. I am truly all about love. In every part of my body. From my curls to my toes. I taste it in my words and hear it in my thoughts every day-even if only on the level of longing for it. I taste it. But as I was growing up, I began to feel like I was cut off from romantic love. And I believe this is why my root chakra is underactive. I believe that part of my core is missing. Part of me is separate. And I’ve been saying this for awhile, but I am finally starting to understand how I got here. The way I’ve experienced desire and relationships has been chaotic. I’ve suffered deeply in relationships because I thought I had to abandon myself in order to get someone to love me. So I did. And when people would tell me they loved me, I had trouble believing them because they never had all of me. It never made sense to me.

The truth is that there is a lot of me. If I feel connected to someone, what I give of myself is full and how I love is very filling. And people often interpret it as me wanting to move the relationship along faster- which is interesting because I actually like to take things slow. I am an emotional turtle. I don’t like to label things or make definitive statements about things until I am very sure. And that sureness takes a longer time for me than it does for most people. But since I feel things so deeply, people attach other meanings to it. It is as though feeling a certain amount, is supposed to equate with a certain amount of commitment or definition. But that formula doesn’t make sense to me. My therapists have always said I have intimacy issues. But its a lot more complicated than that. I thought I had to scale myself down in order to hear I love you. I learned this early on when I would show my full self and it was misinterpreted to mean that I wanted something that wasn’t necessarily in the making on my end. And I grew up thinking that love was something to reach for. I thought romantic love was about the kind of passion that comes from desperate wanting. So I created and maintained dynamics that allowed people to chase me. I thought there needed to be a pedestal, so I made sure I was at the top of it. And when we would break up, I would turn the self-hate inside out. I would develop crushes on people I thought I wasn’t good enough for. And I would never tell them. I would create stories about why I didn’t measure up to them, so I could torture myself. So I could suffer. So I could feel what it was like to be on the other end. I wanted to suffer because suffering was familiar. Love was not. And I could chalk it up to not being ready to grow up. I could agree with the therapists, but in all honesty, they were wrong. And it took me a long time to understand this, but the main reason why I haven’t stayed in any relationship consistently for any long period, is not because I’m afraid of intimacy. Its because I embrace intimacy in a way that is much deeper than most people. As my wise friend said, my container for intimacy is large. I need a certain amount of vulnerability in my relationships, otherwise they don’t fill me up. They don’t sustain me. If I decide I want to know you, I want to know all of you. And it is exhausting if I can only know your parts. I start to feel disconnected, because I strive to show up as a whole self. A full self. I am always working to give you all of me. So I do tend to stop things that other people think are just starting. And this is because people tend to want to make a definitive decision about developing feelings, during a time that I am more interested in developing the connection we have, or seeing if that is even possible. While I am trying to figure out what’s what, my partners usually want to take it to another level. And like I said, I work slowly. The type of intimacy I want to cultivate, takes time, and I don’t believe a connection is enhanced by labeling it. I think having a title can be beautiful, as long as it doesn’t come out of some anxiety to be something.  So I am ready to do my relationships differently. Honestly. The difference between then and now is that I can no longer be in a relationship with someone just because they yearn for me and we have an initial spark. Their containers must also be big. And I know now that I need a certain amount of chemistry and it does not exist in pedestals or pining. There is no real intimacy in that. Love does not chase. Love does not separate. Love is something that both people feel. They come together to share it, not complete it or half it, if they separate. Love breathes and it lets you breathe. So in the space of I like you or I love you, I don’t believe there is a bottom or a top. We are both equals, even if we don’t feel the same way or love the same way. We are still equals. There is no winner in chaser and chased. I made a career out of crushing on people I thought wouldn’t or couldn’t ever crush back. And now I know that my suffering was not about being unable to have crushes that crush back. It was about being attached to their parts. I set up a dynamic where I could chase after projections. I spent time operating in fantasies, rather than fullness. Fantasies can be fun and beautiful, but if you spend more time in what if, than what is actually, you will end up normalizing what you believe you can’t have. So I chased after people I couldn’t fully see myself in, because I thought love was not an option for me. And that is really what is crushing about crushes.

I think lots of people experience push and pull dynamics when they’re first starting to get to know themselves and they desperately want to be in love. I think humans are made to love and be in love. But so many of us grow up in environments that are not conducive to healthy love, so we start to think that we are not worthy of any love. We start to think that love is something outside of us. We think its something we don’t have access to. So we learn to give up parts of ourselves in exchange for a taste of love. We believe our whole selves are too heavy to hold, so we present pieces instead of whole parts. And this experience of feeling locked out of love feels unnatural, so we try our hardest to find that feeling of love in loving other people. But we never do. Because you have to have love to give love. Otherwise, you will always feel disconnected. You will always feel hungry. There is no love or sex that will sew the hole in ourselves. There is no way to receive love, when you are closed to yourself. And this belief that we’re unlovable, leads to leaving. We leave parts of ourselves behind when we try to connect with other people. We abandon ourselves because we are certain that this is the only way to get any kind of love; looking how we look, laughing how we laugh, and saying what we say. So a lot of us will end up in one long term relationship that is on and off or find ourselves in a string of short-term relationships where we always feel like something’s missing. Sometimes it presents as boredom. Other times our partners complain that we pick at them too much. And in some cases, we keep finding ourselves with people who seem to enjoy fighting. Sometimes it happens so much, we question whether or not we like it too. The truth is that most people don’t actually enjoy arguing. But arguing is intimate. There is a faux closeness that happens when people are engaged in an argument. In many cases, it’s the only time two people actually have each other’s attention. Outside of sex, it might be the only time that two people intentionally looking into each other’s eyes for more than a moment. Some people feel like it’s the only time they get to see their loved one’s emotions. But I don’t believe it’s the only way. And while I know that people start arguments as a way to connect with others, I also know that in excess, its abuse. And in any event, its painful to both people because it doesn’t work well when it’s the only vehicle for intimacy in the relationship. But we use arguing as a main form of communication because that is the only kind of communication we consistently saw in our families of origin. That is the only time any truth came out. Some people call it proof. But it is not actually love. It is a familiar cycle. So we often find ourselves in romantic relationships that replicate these dynamics.

I’ve always felt like I was chasing myself around in a circle. Looking for myself. Trying to match what I’ve created in my head with my heart. So more than anything, I want to study unrequited love. I think the thing we all have in common as humans, is this experience of always needing to teach people how to love us. We are sold the idea that people should inherently know, but they don’t. And we often suffer the hurt of feeling unseen or unloved by those who are important to us, because people don’t instinctively know what we need to feel loved and we’re socialized to believe they should. And we don’t usually know how to tell them because our socialization has taught us that we aren’t really supposed to have needs. We are taught that there is a range for normal. If our experience falls outside of that, we are told we’re being “needy” and therefore unreasonable. We think I should do better. And if we do not try to do better, than we think we do not deserve to be loved. But we don’t all have the same needs. I don’t believe there is such a thing as basic needs in relationships. What is basic to one, might be too little or too much for another. I don’t think that everyone’s needs look the same. I think we have to learn about ourselves in order to even know what we need. And I think it takes a lot of trust and vulnerability to communicate those needs to other people. We are led to believe that after a certain amount of months or years, a person should know and understand certain things about us. And I absolutely believe that if a person doesn’t understand a reasonable amount about who you are at your core, after a period of several months, they probably never will. And that is nobody’s fault. But I also think that there are many cases in which a person understands that much about us, and it still isn’t enough. We are constantly growing new skin. We are constantly changing and our needs change too. So I think a big part of love and healthy relationships is about being open. We need to have an openness to rippling waves. We are not bodies of water that sit still. We are full of low and high tides. We are beautiful and wet and we fall over the sand that we cover when we are truly invested in seeing the fullness of each other.

My little-girl self  had trouble speaking because she couldn’t hold her entire spirit in her bare hands. I was so used to being covered. I looked to my own hands to cover my own face. But I kept slipping through. I didn’t fit. And that is the most beautiful lesson I never wanted to learn. As we grow into the people that we are, we become bombarded with familial and social norms. We don’t usually have much of an analysis about it as children, but as adults, it becomes apparent how much it affects our self-esteem. We begin to develop an idea of who we’re supposed to be, what we’re supposed to look like, and how we’re supposed to behave. We create an ideal self that feels very far away. And at some point we realize we are quite different from this fictional self, but we’re convinced we must keep up with her/them/him. If we don’t, we tell ourselves we aren’t trying hard enough. We say we deserve whatever bad things have happened in our lives. But I don’t believe in formulas that equate to pain. And I think the separation between who we think we should be and who we naturally are, is the hole. I think it’s the gap. I think its the thing that’s missing when we find ourselves frequently ending relationships because we got bored. I think its the reason we don’t get passed The Honeymoon Phase. And I think it’s the reason so many of us can keep going through that phase with new people (or the same person) even when we know right away the relationship doesn’t have any sustainable potential. This is because the beginning stage is when we feel the most connected to being in love with ourselves. We love the way it feels to be adored because all of our lives we have longed to feel precious, to feel beautiful, or handsome, or brilliant or funny. And we are. But we spend so many years feeling cut off from love in so many forms, we start to believe romantic love is the only kind of real love there is. We start to believe it’s the most powerful. And falling in love is completely powerful. But I think we will continue to chase that feeling of falling love in the beginning. I think we will continue to chase that rush with people who aren’t necessarily compatible with us, until we are able to sustain a love affair with ourselves.

I am more interested in the sum of all parts, than I am in anyone’s best features.We consist of so many pieces. There are parts of us we truly wish were different or gone all together. And there are parts of us we truly believe are amazing. That’s the thing that gets us out of bed every day. That’s what allows us to even desire love. Its because we are love. And we see it in ourselves, even if it is only peaking through. When we learn about love and all that it can do, we think we have to be perfect to receive it. We think we have to sever certain parts to even get a glimpse of it. But I truly believe people come in whole pieces. I have spent lifetimes upon lifetimes trying to be pretty. Trying to sound smart. Trying not to look weird or make a joke that isn’t funny. I have been called ugly almost as much as I have been called beautiful. But the ugliness has stuck to me like a second skin. So I have tried to hide in my other skin for fear that the whole of me would peak out under my pretty. I swore there were parts of me that I should always keep to myself. And I hugged them close like a blanket, the same way I was covered as a child- helpless and haunted by the parts I didn’t like. And now I know that the more we feel separate from ourselves, the more we feel cut off from love. True intimacy happens in the fullness of who we are. It doesn’t exist in glimpses or snapshots. And we are certainly different people at different times. We do not always sound smart or look pretty or impress with our charm. We hesitate, we have bad days, and we say things that hit people wrong. But the trick is to keep talking and keep learning. Learn ourselves the way we learn people we admire. Learn ourselves the way we learn our crushes. Learn ourselves until we love ourselves the way we love other people. Fearlessly. Cautiously. Recklessly. However we feel drawn to love. So we can teach others how to love us the same way back. And as I am learning myself, I am coming full circle, except I am no longer chasing love (myself). I am right here. I have been disconnected from seeing the beauty of my entire self. I’ve looked for beauty and newness in other people. But I am learning that I am newness and beauty. I am changing all the time. And I am committed to falling in love all the time. And staying in love with my (whole) myself.

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Exercise: Upgrading Your Beliefs

The purpose of this exercise is to challenge your limiting beliefs. I got this exercise from The Soulmate Experience (which I have just started reading). The idea is that beliefs that don’t serve us cause us to feel separate from other people. Limiting beliefs affect the kinds of people we attract and the quality of the relationships we have. So in an effort to enhance my connections, I have started editing the belief system in my head. The idea is not to alter your beliefs to something unrealistic, but to tweak them enough so they are helpful and true for you. The beliefs on the top are untouched, and the beliefs underneath are the “upgraded” versions I’m working on.

I don’t know to be in a relationship.
I am learning how to be in a relationship with myself. That is the first step.

I do not have the right kind of beauty.
I see beauty in many kinds and many ways. I am sure there are other people who do too.

I don’t have enough going for me to be with the kinds of people I’m attracted to.

I have a lot going for me and I am working on the rest.

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4 Responses to Chasing Tails

  1. This is the epitome of beautiful, passionate, vulnerable. I appreciate so much of this, and I’m sitting with your affirmations at the end…about you being able to see all sorts of beauty and knowing that other people do. I always think about how “beauty” is an economy and of course people who hold more of the economy are privileged to control the economy – but, just as how so many of us hate capitalism and feel forced to participate, same with beauty. I appreciate the freedom to disengage and experience truth in that sentiment. I’m grateful I read.

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