I Am Slowly Learning To Be My Own Soulmate

When I was young, I believed that once I found my one true soulmate, the love of my life, everything else would fall into place naturally. We’d adore each other, support each other, and move through life with effortless happiness. All I had to do was find my partner, and everything else would turn out wonderfully.

After a litany of failed romances, I can now admit beyond doubt that I was wrong. Another person will never complete me, no matter how desperately I try to make that happen. In fact, I am guaranteed to end up single as long as I believe that my relationship is the marker by which to measure my own value.  

The first time that I came to terms with this, I thought I’d hit rock bottom. I spent over three years living as a single woman, with only short dalliances here and there, nothing to take seriously. The idea of learning to love myself finally came into view, and I thought that I’d accepted life on my own. I dipped my toes into the waters of self-love, but unfortunately never found my way to the depths of the trauma that I needed to heal in order to triumph.

With this false sense of security, I allowed myself to fall in love with someone new, someone exciting, someone who I saw in my future as my permanent adventure companion. Caught up in my idealization of him and of us, I missed all the red flags and the warning signs. Maybe I saw them and dismissed them, deciding that we were far too happy to let a few small issues trip us up. But then, trip us up – and break us up – they did.

I was devastated. After all that time alone, I thought I’d chosen someone different, someone mature and emotionally available. Instead I realized, far too late, that I was still stuck in my usual patterns. Without him, without that idea of a beautiful partnership, I found myself once again completely lost.

As always, I am left with only me, something that in the past I have refused to accept. I realize now that even when I claimed to be single, focused solely on my own goals, I always had some object of affection to distract me. Never in my adult life have I given myself one hundred percent of my own concentration. It feels incredibly difficult and painful to focus inward this way. Terrified to confront the discomfort, I find something, anything, to take my attention elsewhere. 

Now, as the circumstances of my life continually conspire to narrow my range of sight, I feel the universe sending me a message. Until I learn to embrace myself fully, all aspects, every bit of shame that I have not faced, I cannot move forward. I will always run in circles. I will feel stuck wherever I go, because it is not about external circumstances. It is about the wounded soul that I carry with me. As long as I refuse to sit with my sadness, to travel down deep into the hollows I fear I’ll never rise from, I can never be satisfied. For a short time, perhaps, but inevitably my pain bubbles up to the surface. 

This is how I am learning to become my own soulmate. I am finally telling the relentlessly persecuting voices in my head that I’m not listening anymore. If I am ever to grow, I must stop talking to myself with hatred and disparaging words. I’m slowly grasping the concepts of compassion and kindness turned inwards. I am breathing into the idea of facing down my decades of learned dysfunction and ingrained patterns and saying, no more. I am not going to treat myself this way any longer.

I deserve better. Not from anyone else, but from myself. I acknowledge that I am the only person who can give myself true love that lasts a lifetime.  I am my own soulmate.  Embodying that worth requires time and patience, but it is a journey worth taking.  

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)

I Still Can’t Escape My Memories Of You

I skulk slowly past your house in the shadowy cover of night, on my way to the humble bench that was once, not long ago, our chosen meeting spot.  I don’t need to see you.  It makes me feel better somehow just to know you’re close, that if I wanted I could see you at any moment.  Most of the time I’m suffocated by the idea of your constant proximity, but realistically I know that once you’ve gone I’ll grieve for you as freshly as I do now. 

It’s a breezy, oddly temperate February evening.  Perfect for our former rendezvous here, a simple wooden seat around the corner from where you live.  You waited patiently, laughing at me as I ran up to squeeze you close, holding me while we joked and giggled until even the raccoons scurrying into the bushes looked at us askance.  We always lingered long past our agreed upon curfew, shivering as we clutched on to each other, strolling through quiet, quaint small town alleys.  I was never willing to go, craving just five minutes, then five minutes more, on and on, both of us swept up in the rush of giddy newborn love.  I’ve never been happier than I was on those simple evenings.  

Now I sit here alone, staring up at the all too familiar streetlamp, the eucalyptus trees that lead me to recall inside jokes, banter that only makes sense to the two of us.  The breeze picks up – dry, brittle leaves slap the ground around me like fat raindrops.  I’ll never see eucalyptus again without wondering where your heart has made its home.

Being here brings back a time so innocently joyful that I suddenly choke on my own memories, so I hurriedly rise and begin to walk.  There’s not much respite there either, but at least the streets hold other past nights in their grasp.  The bench was only ever yours and mine.  I don’t know if I came here to feel soothed or tear myself apart all over again.  I’m neither – instead, agitated and defeated in the same instant.  It’s maddening to stay with my emotions, so move I must.  

My antsy feet take me to your darkened, eerily silent street before I quite understand what’s happening.  Lucky for me, this is an early-to-bed sort of community.  No one is awake to peer out from the curtained bay window of a cedar-shingled beach house and see me lurking uncertainly in the center of the road.  I don’t know what I’m doing here, why I have no will to let you be.  Slowly, I pull my beanie down low over my sorrowful eyes, shove my hands into my jacket pockets, and let my body melt into a crouch.  My head hangs to my chest, burdened with the weight of unspoken hopes and lost chances.  I almost hope for a pickup truck, manned by some drunken fool, to whip around the corner and end my desperation, but I know it won’t.  I almost hope for you to somehow sense my presence, step out your front door to enfold me in your arms, and end this intolerable pain.  But I know you won’t.  

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)

When I Can’t Sleep For Missing You

It’s happened again.

I’ve tried everything.  Herbal supplements, meditation, nature sounds, breath work.  My mind won’t let me rest, though every last portion of me pleads with sullen groans for relief.  I thought that today, in spite of the tears, in spite of the sudden waves of sorrow, I was handling it all a bit better.  Clarity seemed within reach.  Now, I toss and turn, suddenly overheated in a room where I usually shiver without multiple blankets.  My eyelids hang heavy and yet my overactive brain summons up one memory of you after another.  One sweet gesture after another.  How am I helpless against my own mental torture? 

Take me back to the nights where I fell solidly asleep in your arms, the nights before we started having difficulties, before your every slightest move woke me with concern for your comfort.  Take me back to that juvenile twin bed that forced us to cling to each other with the bravado of new, impetuous love.  I felt happier there with you than I ever have since.  Now I struggle to find any method of peaceful rest in a bed so large, so deliciously plush, so empty of your presence.

I know that our lovely romance is severed for good, and yet I have no will to let go.

If only I could push the thoughts down long enough to fall into the oblivion of night and release myself temporarily, until the morning nags and prods with unwanted realities. 

It seems obscene that the human body is capable of producing so much grief without shriveling up completely to grant some sort of ending release.

I loved you with my whole heart when you never gave me more than a portion of your own.  And yet, despite my past, despite all my previous experiences, I still somehow believed that I could will you into letting yourself go.  I was determined to adore you so completely that you had no choice but to fall in love with the abundance of my affection for you.  Think of what I could accomplish if I had the wherewithal to bring some of that dogged stubbornness to the other aspects of my existence, but no – I live to love those who cannot give me the same in return.

I live to break my own heart, over and over and over again.

What I would give to lay my head down once more in that concave nook of your collarbone, where it fit like an unexpected return to home.  I felt safe there in a way that I rarely ever do.  You saw me, and you accepted me, and you loved me.  In spite of every new obstacle, every curve thrown into our path, you did your damndest to keep me, long after we both knew you’d given up in the marrow of your bones.  

I don’t know if I’m ever going to stop loving you, not really.  You were my dream come true, notwithstanding your inevitable humanity.  You were the one who exposed my true self and left me shivering there, afraid, but trusting.  And then you were the one who walked away.  

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)

This Is The Future You Deserve

In order to get the future you deserve, you must believe it into reality.

It’s not something tangible.  It’s a state of being.  When you reach it, you will feel the glow down to your very bones – but you’ll also realize that’s not so much an end game as a way of living your life from that day forward.  Everything finally clicks for you, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  This click, this realization, this opening of your eyes to what truly matters – that is the future you’re searching for now, whether you know it or not.

You deserve to stand up tall and strong with a unshakable sense of your worth.  You will get there if you learn to focus on what really matters – not looking forward, not reminiscing, but staying entirely in the present moment.  Work on yourself in the here and now so that you end up with that beautiful future on your horizon.

You deserve to realize every one of your dreams.  They might shift and evolve as you travel through life, but as you grow you learn that reality is never what you expect.  Part of your perfect future is the ability to roll with whatever comes your way, handling it with grace and wisdom.  Nothing can stop you.  Nothing can tear you down.  You are the master of your own heart, your own soul, and your own choices.

You deserve to receive just as much love as you’ve always given, and you will.  When you learn to hold space for yourself and truly love yourself for all that you are, that love will multiply.  Your ability to care for others without condition will expand with your ability to care for your own spirit.  In the future, you’ll recognize that your failures and losses are nothing to hide – they built you into the independent and special person that you are.  Your heartbreaks taught you how to set boundaries, understand your true priorities when it comes to love, and never settle for someone who does not see your worth.  There was a purpose, a meaning to all of the madness. 

The truth is that you are in charge of building the future you deserve.  You can begin today, right in this moment.  You have the capability to bring all of your hopes and dreams into fruition, if you only believe in yourself.  And you, beautiful soul, deserve to know that you can achieve anything if you harness your own strength and determination.  

The future you deserve is whatever you want it to be.  

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)

I’m Afraid That I’ll Never Learn How To Heal Properly

I’m trying to be kind to myself, but this grieving process is so frustrating sometimes.  I want to heal faster.  I want to be someone different from who I am, someone who can handle emotion rationally, someone who sees what’s not working and lets it go.  I am not that person and I never have been.  I went through so much emotional trauma and chaos at a young age that I’ve not had any chance to learn to process pain constructively.   

I attempt to distance myself and let it all go, but I end up in a free fall of terror and dread.  I don’t see a future.  I don’t see a point to anything.  I spiral quickly and silently.  Usually no one around me truly sees the depth of my pain, the nearness to oblivion, how many times I have to drag myself back from the edge with every tiny iota of strength I have left.  Perhaps they would be shocked if they knew how close I’ve come to nothingness and how often.  

I don’t want to be told I’m strong anymore.  It’s not a compliment.  It’s yet another way for people to deflect, to minimize the desperation I feel.  My brand of strength is nothing more than a coping mechanism, a way to survive.  I rise above the sadness by smothering it with shame, but it’s always there, growing with every disappointment and heartbreak.  The truth is that I feel like a terrified, lonely, unloved child who has nothing and no one in the world.  I see no inherent value or worth in myself, only another body taking up space in a society where no one cares that much about anything other than themselves.

If that sounds cynical, it’s because I feel cynical.  About everything. 

I’m treading water, doing my best just to stay afloat here.  I’m becoming tired.  There is so much weariness in this fight of mine, this battle I’ve been waging for what feels like forever now.  

Lest I be misunderstood – as seems to happen frequently when I’m honest and open – I’m not looking for pity, or sympathy, or even for anyone to reach out and express to me that I am, in fact, cared for and appreciated.  My loneliness comes from within myself.  I understand that no one else can heal what’s happened to me and within me over the years, what’s built up and accumulated, layers of scar tissue so thick that I despair of getting underneath.  

All I’m trying to express is that while I am doing my best to finally allow my emotions the space they need to flower, I’m also realizing that I’m lost when it comes to taking care of my own soul the way I’ve always tended to those of others.  I’m incredibly reliable when someone else goes through an emotional crisis – I’ve had to be a support for other people my entire life.  It’s a role that I slip into easily, but if I must do the same for myself, I have no idea how to begin. If I am not needed by an external element, when I am faced with only my own needs, my purpose feels muddled or even nonexistent.  

How do I express the shame of not knowing how to hold space for myself in the world?  I don’t.  I stagger on and hope that one of my sloppy attempts to achieve self-love actually holds true for once. 

Honestly, I’m terrified that after all these years, with so many layers of grief and sadness kept locked in to my core, I am incapable of unlearning these entrenched habits and defense mechanisms.  This fear keeps me apart from others, prevents me from letting myself admit my insecurities.  I don’t believe that I can handle further rejections.  Knowing that I only continue to make the same mistakes, it seems my only recourse at the moment is to block off my heart entirely.  

Unless I can develop another manner of being, I’m unwilling to continue to jeopardize my soul, my health, and my happiness. 

(Originally published on Medium.com)

How To Love A Woman Who Has Had To Survive On Her Own

She’s a special person, the woman who never had any help.  She is strong, independent, and protective of the life she spent so much effort building.  This means that loving her – and earning her love – is nothing if not a challenge.  It’s not simple, and you will absolutely have to prove yourself before she lets you truly see what’s inside.  Put in the work.  She is worth every bit of effort you devote to her.

You may find her resilience and intelligence incredibly attractive, but please, do not waste her time.  She cannot stand the idea of yet another person letting her down, of having to navigate the emotional wasteland you leave behind when you throw away her heart.  Yes, she expects a lot from you, but that is only because she expects the same from herself.  When she’s in, she’s all in, and she is weary of false promises and men who fill her head with pretty lies about the depth of their love.  

She demands emotional stability, maturity, someone who is willing and able to meet her halfway on all things.  Understand her history.  Understand her past.  Take the time to get to know why she operates the way that she does.  Then you will see the many hurts, the disappointments, the reasons that she blocked herself off and learned to only trust herself.  No, she does not suffer fools, but if you don’t find that appealing she is not for you.  She has been through enough to cut off anyone who squanders her time.  

You must work for her because so many who came before you tricked her into opening herself up, only to leave her high and dry at the first sign of difficulty.  They never took the time to find out who she is deep down and celebrate it.  They did not nurture her, cherish her, or make her feel safe.  When she let down her guard in spite of all that, she learned the hard way that none of them were ever going to change.  

The worst crime you can ever commit against this woman, this strong, graceful being who built herself from the ground up and has never leaned on anyone, is misleading her.  If you are not committed, respect her enough to walk away and make room for the person who will be.  

Once you show her that you are not going anywhere, once she lets herself love you, honor her vulnerability.  Respond in kind.  Show her the parts of your soul that not many get to see.  By demonstrating your trust in her, your steadfast involvement in the relationship, you will in turn earn reciprocity.  Show up for her when she believes no ever will.  Be her partner in all things, and have her back even when she does not need it.  After all, she’s never had someone there to help.  She may be fully capable of standing on her own, but often she gets weary of doing it all alone.  The burden is more than she bargained for, but she’s never had any choice but to carry it by herself.  Be her unexpected relief.  

Earning her trust and her respect takes time.  The only way to make her believe you’ll stick around is to prove you’ll put in the effort in the first place.  Be steady, be secure, and just show up.  Show up every single day.  Stay when she figures that you’ll run.  Talk to her instead of dismissing her fears.  Respect her space, set reasonable boundaries, and listen to what she needs from the relationship.  Communication will set you both free.  

Be patient with her, and you’ll see that what blossoms between you is worth all of your effort.  Nothing truly lovely comes with ease, but that’s okay, because you’ve won the affection and companionship of a very special person.  She may be used to surviving all alone, but that doesn’t mean she prefers it that way.  Be her excitement, her joy, and most of all, her partner in life.  Give her the steady love she’s always wanted.  In return she will give you more happiness than you ever imagined.  

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)

 

How Long Am I Going To Still Miss You?

If I knew when it would end, perhaps I could bear the pain I feel every waking moment of the day.

I had no idea that missing you would get worse as time goes on, not easier.  I feel my overarching sadness more keenly with each day that passes, enduring the sting of being twenty-four hours further removed from the happiness and love we shared.  It was you and me against the world, and that gave me a reason to care.  Now I don’t have that.  All I have is the gaping hole in my heart that you left behind.  

I stay in bed as long as I can in the morning, willing my eyes shut, numbing the memories for a few minutes longer.  I know that as soon as I begin to go about my day, my emotions will simmer just below the surface, threatening to erupt at any moment.  It’s exhausting, this gamut that I run through over and over again.  I’m so tired of missing you, but I can’t shut my brain off.  I cannot wish you away, so instead I live like a raw nerve, exposed and vulnerable at all times.

Everything that I do reminds me of you in some way or another.  I cannot even touch myself anymore without crumbling at the knowledge that I’ll never feel the tender electricity of your embrace again.  

This place stifles me with constant reminders of everything we shared and everything we planned to do but never accomplished.  Our town is too oppressively small to contain the amount of sorrow it brings me to stroll its streets without you by my side.   I kept our memories close back when I believed that I would get a lifetime of loving you, but now I’d do anything to completely erase them.  Erase the pain that you left behind when you turned your back and moved on, leaving me here with a broken heart and a shattered future.

Yes, I dared to let myself envision a future with you as my lifelong adventure partner, sharing my laughter, my curiosity, and my heart.  What a fool I am.

Now I spend each day just trying to make it to the next, one after the other, until I finally reach the point where everything hurts a little less.  I would give anything to stop missing you.  What can I do?  I loved you, and I did not want you to go, and I lost you despite the adoration I felt for you each and every day that we spent together.  If I’m completely honest, I suppose I’m still in denial that you’re no longer mine to love, to hold, and to grow alongside.  

I would have done anything for you, but it doesn’t matter.  

Please someone tell me when I’ll stop feeling this way so that I can stand it.  Because right now, I don’t know how much longer I can.

(Originally published on ThoughtCatalog.com)