She wasn’t afraid of relationships… okay, that wasn’t entirely true. The idea of being hurt, of being vulnerable, of putting herself out there and not being met… that freaked her the fuck out. She had a tendency to go all in, to put her entire self into a relationship even when it seemed to others that she was holding part of herself back. She was terrified of being hurt, of coming up short, of being told that her everything wasn’t enough. It had happened too often. Too many past partners hadn’t recognized how vulnerable she was making herself. Hadn’t known that she was open and exposed and raw. Hadn’t known that their judgements and their ‘you’re not trying’ and their ‘I don’t know where I stand with you’ left wounds that she didn’t know how to heal. Wounds that sent her reeling and left her confused because she thought she’d been so transparent. Thought she’d shown how she felt about each of them. She felt like she’d exhausted herself in demonstrating her feelings, in making sure they knew what they meant to her. She felt like she’d shown them her true self only to have them tell her that it wasn’t enough, they didn’t know her feelings, that she was only half invested in the relationship with one foot out the door.
How could she not be afraid of relationships when everyone she’d been in a relationship with had told her that her best effort – her utmost vulnerability – wasn’t enough? She didn’t understand how she could be more open, more vulnerable, more real without destroying herself.
How could she allow herself to be vulnerable and share everything when the scariest thing to share, the one thing she held back, was the fear that her everything was nothing?
Perhaps that caused her to protect herself. Maybe she unknowingly and unintentionally held others at a safe distance. Was that really her fault when all her past partners had nonverbally told her that she wasn’t enough. When the first (only) woman to whom she’d said ‘I love you’ responded by questioning it – implying that it couldn’t be true. Implying that she didn’t know herself or her own heart?
Was it wrong that she was terrified of putting herself out there, of putting her heart on the line and again facing painful, excruciating rejection?
How could she learn to let people in when she’d been wounded so deeply in the past. When every seemed to think she made a wonderful best friend, but wasn’t worth risking their heart for. When no one seemed to realize how much of herself she was putting on the line, how exposed she felt, how vulnerable she was sitting across the table from them, making small talk over coffee.
She was wounded and she knew it. What she didn’t know was how to heal those wounds.