That Pesky Foreboding Joy Thing Again

28 04 2015
Photo courtesy of ABC's Grey's Anatomy

Photo courtesy of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy

Foreboding joy.

It’s a concept we’ve talked about on the blog here already, but one that I wanted to explore again after the controversial death of beloved Grey’s Anatomy character, Dr. Derek Shepherd.

For those of you who don’t watch the show, Derek and his wife Meredith have been the main characters of the show for the past eleven years, which is saying something because for all intents and purposes, it is an ensemble cast show. And yet, their love story has always been pretty integral to the story from the very beginning. We open with them meeting, and we grew to really care about their up and down, will they or won’t they relationship.

Well, they did, finally. They got married, adopted one kid and had another, and even after they found themselves arguing a lot this season (and Derek almost cheating, well he did kiss someone but then ran away as quickly as possible), they somehow managed to find their way back to each other and were really, really happy.

This is when I (and anyone else who watches the show) knew something was going to go terribly wrong. Two episodes later, he was missing. And the very next episode, we found out that he’d died in a hospital of a brain lack following a car accident.

Whew. When I say that episode tore me to pieces, I’m not lying. But I’m also not alone. All over my timeline, I saw folks admitting to deep, ugly tears while watching it. And sure, I think it’s partly because we’d all become invested in the character and also because Shonda Rhimes knows how to tear your heart out with a perfectly timed song, but mostly I think it had everything to do with all of our tendencies towards foreboding joy.

You see, the reason so many of us expected that something was going to go wrong with the character on the show is because we expect for things to go wrong in our own lives when we are too happy. How could the Grey’s Anatomy world be any different, right?

Dr. Brene’ Brown says it better. She says, “Having spent several years studying what it means to feel joyful, I’d argue that joy is probably the most difficult emotion to really feel. Why? Because when we lose the ability or willingness to be vulnerable, joy becomes something we approach with deep foreboding… [and it] can feel like a setup. We wake up in the morning and think, Work is going well. Everyone in the family is healthy. No major crises are happening. The house is still standing. I’m working out and feeling good. Oh, shit. This is bad. This is really bad. Disaster must be lurking right around the corner.”

Essentially, we’re all scared shitless of being too happy.

That’s why it hurt so much watching Derek die the same day he so eloquently professed his love for Meredith. It’s because watching that happen confirmed all our fears of it happening in real life. Not consciously, mind you. But I think it stirred up those latent (and maybe not so latent) fears in all of us.

I get that. For several years after Montana was killed in a carjacking, any time I couldn’t reach a friend, family member, or especially someone I was dating, I would immediately panic and think something had happened to them. I’d give myself 3 hours (much like Meredith gave herself until 5pm) to hear back from them before completely losing it, but I’d be going through every horrible scenario in my mind.

But even after I got over that, foreboding joy found a way to creep into my psyche. I recently dated someone, fell in love with him, and then talked myself out of the relationship. Why? Because when you have foreboding joy, the kind of happiness I had with him only serves to make you so frightened that it will end that the only thing you can do is stop it before something or someone else can take it from you.

Foreboding joy.

It’s that thing that makes newly married folks realize just how mortal we all are now that they’ve vowed to spend the rest of their lives with someone. It’s what makes moms and dads stand over their new babies, because they realize the most random incident could take all that happiness away in an instant. It’s frightening. It’s debilitating. But more than that it’s not living a full life.

Brown gives an example of this in her book, Daring Greatly. “A man in his early sixties told me, ‘I used to think the best way to go through life was to expect the worst. That way, if it happened, you were prepared, and if it didn’t happen, you were pleasantly surprised. Then I was in a car accident and my wife was killed. Needless to say, expecting the worst didn’t prepare me at all. And worse, I still grieve for all of those wonderful moments we shared and that I didn’t fully enjoy’… [this] story illustrates how the concept of foreboding joy as a method of minimizing vulnerability is best understood as a continuum that runs from ‘rehearsing tragedy’ to what I call ‘perpetual disappointment.'”

She goes on to say, “What the perpetual disappointment folks described is this: ‘It’s easier to love disappointed than it is to feel disappointed. It feels more vulnerable to dip in and out of disappointment than to just set up camp there. You sacrifice joy, but you suffer less pain… [but] once we make the connection between vulnerability and joy, the answer is pretty straightforward: we’re trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. We don’t want to be blindsided by hurt. We don’t want to be caught off-guard, so we literally practice being devastated or never move from self-elected disappointment.”

Thing is though, we don’t actually stop the pain, even when we’re not letting ourselves enjoy the joy. This is exactly what happened with many of us who watch the show. I knew something was going to happen to Derek. I felt it from the moment I saw them being too happy, and guess what? That stopped me from just enjoying that moment, because the whole time I kept saying, “something bad is going to happen. He’s about to die.” And yet, when he died, I still cried. It still hurt. The expectation, the foreboding joy, hadn’t stopped the rush of pain from flooding. Just as it doesn’t stop it in our real lives.

It didn’t stop me from being devastated after I pushed the guy away enough that he left. And it won’t stop any future pain going forward. But that’s the thing about foreboding joy — it wants you to believe it will. It wants you to believe if you control the happiness, you can make it without suffering the pain.

It is wrong.

If that Grey’s Anatomy episode taught us anything (besides the fact that Shonda Rhimes will kill off any character at any time, seriously — it’s like Game of Thrones in a hospital), it taught us that. And I hope those of us who experienced it will look back on those ugly tears and use it to inform us in our actual lives. I hope it will inspire us to embrace the happiness, to lean into the vulnerability that comes with joy, and to not be so worried about what comes after.

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You Can’t Leap and Stand Still At the Same Time

24 03 2015

leaping2

A few weeks ago, after leaving from volunteering in Virgina on a Wednesday, I had what started off as a very typical, but became a pretty surreal Metro experience. You see, I was making my way home in an attempt to get on a conference call by 9:30pm on a route that normally takes me about an hour. I made it to the Metro station by 8:40pm and had figured out that if I was on a train by 8:45, I’d have just enough time to wait the normal 15-20 minutes at my transfer stop and still make it home to Maryland by 9:30.

I was cool, calm, and collected in this knowledge. In fact, my confidence in this plan working out only grew when I noticed the Metro sign saying that the next train was just 3 minutes away.

“Perfect,” I thought. “Everything is going according to my plan.”

Ten minutes later when the train was still “3 minutes” away, I started to panic. There was no way I was going to make it home by 9:30 now, I figured. And so, as is typical of me, I began to try to figure out another plan.

Should I text someone to say I was running late but would hopefully be home by 9:45? But then what if the train took another 20 minutes and I didn’t make that time either? Maybe I should postpone the call to 10pm to give myself some leeway? Or better yet, was it better to cancel the call and save it for another day when I wasn’t rushing to get home and didn’t have to try to convince folks to get on a conference call at 10pm? But then Wednesday had been the best day for everyone to speak and finalize details, so moving the call to another day might then jeopardize the final plans… And why had I cut it so close in the first place?

All of these thoughts ran through my head at lightening speed. I mean, I was in pure panic mode, y’all.

And then I heard a soft, yet stern voice say “Stop.”

“Put your phone down, and trust that you will get home by 9:30.”

Obviously, this made no sense to me. I could clearly see the time was steady ticking away, and yet what I absolutely could not see was the damn train. Stubborn, I fought against this voice. “You don’t understand,” I thought. “I just don’t see how that’s possible. I’m not going to make it, so I need to make the appropriate plans in response to that!”

“Just trust me,” is all I got back.

After a bit more hemming and hawing, I finally did. I put my phone away and said, “Okay God. I trust you,” and immediately saw the train (that still said it was 3 minutes away) ride up to my platform. Right after I finally submitted.

You know what else happened? When I got to my transfer stop — the one that I normally have to wait 15 to 20 minutes at — I only had to wait two. And lo and behold, I made it home at 9:29pm.

Now, this story may seem frivolous, but it was one of many events that have shown me over the past month or so that I still had plenty of work to do in my faith walk.

Remember when I wrote this blog post about leaping? Well guess what — surprise, surprise — I haven’t really been living like that. Not in the truest sense. What I’d been doing (and what the Metro incident showed me very clearly) is believing in something until an obstacle came up and then falling right back into the pattern of planning for things not to work out.

That’s a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is faith.

That next Sunday, two sermons (one from my church and one from a friend’s church) drove the point home even further. Both sermons touched on the Biblical story of when Joshua, Caleb, and others went to go see what the promised land looked like. The other witnesses came back speaking about the giants they saw and spoke fear into the hearts of the other Israelites, while Joshua and Caleb essentially said “Yea we saw the giants, but we know what God said, and we’re focusing on that.” (That’s me paraphrasing, clearly.)

The two key points that hit home for me from my church’s sermon were that 1) It’s not about what you think you can see. It’s about what God has told you. Focus on that; and 2) Spiritual confirmation is not just the opportunity, but it’s also the opposition — because if you can do it by yourself, you wouldn’t have to trust God for it to happen. Those two points hit home for me especially because I realized I’d been living my life just like those other witnesses, believing and then allowing what I saw (or couldn’t see) to stop my belief. Still allowing my fears to stop me from leaping. I’d even found myself saying (as I did in the Metro incident) “but I don’t see it!”

When I read my friend’s notes, I almost broke down. “You can’t leap and stand still at the same time, just as you can’t believe and be afraid at the same time.” That hit me to my core. Have you ever tried leaping and standing still at the same time? You physically can’t do it. Just as you can’t believe and practice faith while worrying and fearing and planning for things not to work out.

And I’d been actively failing while trying to do both.

Working on my book and saying “I just need one yes,” to everyone I talked to about it, but deeply and sincerely fearing that no one would really want it.

Fighting the pull to move to another city because of what could go wrong if I did.

Being hopeful about a particular relationship, but not really trusting that it would work for us.

That was me a month ago. Trying to leap and stand still at the same time.

Now, I’m trying something different. I’m much more hopeful. I’m less stressed. I’m just simply believing. And while I’m still a work in progress, I find that I’m focusing less and less on those giants. And I’m finally, finally (!) really taking those leaps.





Could Have Been a Love Story

1 05 2014

If you’ve never heard of or seen the video above, do yourself a favor and watch now, please, because it’s one of those videos that’s so simple but so poignant all at the same time.

What’s striking about the video and its message is that while it is likely to be a fictionalized performance to make a point, it’s something that could very well happen in real life. And actually, let’s just be real — it happens all the time. It happens over texts or messaging (like in this instance), but it happens during in-person conversations as well, and it also happens in our heads (don’t act like you don’t have conversations in your head sometimes — not like a crazy person, just… oh whatever you know what I mean). It’s this constant need to either censor our real selves or not be too open to others.

But why is that? What is it that causes us all to instinctively back away from being open and vulnerable when given the chance?

I’m assuming it’s the common misconception that vulnerability equates to being weak. Except that what’s funny about that equation, is that for many, we see vulnerability as strength in others. Just not when it concerns us. It may also have to do with fears of rejection or of looking “too thirsty.” Or wanting to appear nonchalant about something or someone. Fear of the unknown and things we can’t control.

Brene’ Brown of the famed vulnerability and shame Ted talks says it this way:

Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable. Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there’s no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness… Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to life.

In other words, if you don’t allow yourself to be open to being vulnerable, you’ll end up like these two talking around each other, neither one being honest, neither one coming out of the conversation with a good feeling about it.

And since I brought it back up, let’s go back to the video for a second. Can we all admit we’ve been there at least once? I watched the thing and had more than my fair share of flashbacks to times when I wanted to say something to a guy, but didn’t. Or wanted to speak up at work and didn’t. Wanted to try a new activity and didn’t. And then inevitably, I’d end up wondering what if. What if I had gone against that voice in my head telling me it didn’t take all that? What if I had just said what was on my heart to say? What could have been different? I mean, these fake people could have been a love story, y’all, but they’re probably not the only ones! But because two people refused to say what they really wanted to say and express the excitement they really felt, they weren’t.

What’s more tragic than missing out on a beautiful love story because you were afraid to show just how much you liked that person? Or missing out on your calling in life because you didn’t know how your innovation/creation/project would be received? I would argue not too much. And yet, we still do it. We still censor ourselves. We still hesitate when it comes to taking risks with matters of the heart and matters that call us to act on faith and not by sight, whether that’s in our careers, in our love lives, in our relationships with family/friends, etc…

But I think we should all collectively ask ourselves – where has that gotten us thus far? And then commit that we won’t allow ourselves to become a “could have been…” story any longer.





A Dialogue: Are We Scared of Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zones for Love?

12 03 2014

“Tell me this,” he said. “If Simon and Schuster told you that a book deal with them was contingent on you moving to New York, would you do it?”

“Well yea, in a heart beat,” I responded.

“So what’s the difference?”

“The difference is one has to do with my career. It’s my livelihood; it’s what I was brought up to cherish. It would be about me standing on my own as an independent woman and going full force into my goals. And the other is…”

I paused. We both knew what I was going to say. That the other was something less stable. Less sure. Less everything but frightening. I didn’t want to admit that to this friend though, seeing as I’d just finished telling him how I was coming to the point where I was realizing that my career without love wasn’t as fulfilling.

“The other has to do with what you’ll do for love,” he finished for me.

“Yea, but c’mon, that’s a horrible comparison,” I suggested. “You know how I feel about my book(s). It’s a passion of mine I’ve had for years now, so of course I would do almost anything to make that happen.”

“And being with the person you love isn’t a passion of yours?”

“Don’t do this. Don’t act like this is as simple as you’re trying to make it sound. That’s a scary concept – moving to make things work with someone. Who does that?”

“Plenty of people!”

“And how many of those people looked stupid afterwards? No one wants to be in that number. That’s scary!”

“Of course it’s scary,” he said. “But when is doing something out of your comfort zone not scary? Do you think it wouldn’t be scary for you to up and move, even if that meant you’re getting an amazing book deal? No – it’s still scary, but you go into it with a different mindset.”

He continued.

“It’s not just you, though. It’s our generation. We have no problem taking risks and doing what it takes for our careers, scary stuff be damned. But suggest that we put that same action into our love lives and we clam up. We start to focus on what could go wrong as opposed to what could go right. Now, we don’t ever do that in any other area of our lives. You don’t take a job and think to yourself, ‘what if a month into this job I hate it? And now I’ve given up my other job and I can’t go back.’ NO – you think, ‘this may be scary as hell; I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know if I put my all into it, everything is going to work out like it should.’ Why don’t we do that when it comes to our relationships?”

“Well because the fall out from relationships seems so much more devastating. You move to make something work, and it falls apart, and now you’re the girl or guy who moved for someone, and it didn’t work out. You’re that cautionary tale of stupidity. Of thinking love solves all.”

“Sure, that could happen. Or you move and you find out that you all work perfectly together. And it’s something you would have never known for real if you hadn’t taken the risk. I think it’s just deciding what’s more important to you – the chance that it could go wrong, or taking the chance that it could go very very right?”

“Yea, I see what you’re saying,” I said, looking down at my plate for help in this discussion. Like it could actually help. “But it’s just so hard. Logically it’s easy to say, even if it doesn’t work out, God’s got my back either way, and at least I tried. But…”

“But fear holds you back,” he interrupted. “And we know just how beneficial that is.”

What do you all think? Is our generation one that gets weary when it involves stepping out of our comfort zones for love? And to be clear, stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean moving to another location. It could mean trying online dating, giving that guy/girl a chance who you never thought you would, deciding to abstain from sex until marriage when that’s the opposite of what you’ve been doing before — basically I’m talking about anything that makes you just slightly uncomfortable about doing it, but for reasons that involve things like how you’ll look to others and what happens if it doesn’t work out.





Being a Fool for Love

9 12 2013
Photo: stylegerms.com

Photo: stylegerms.com

There’s a quote in the movie, A Lot Like Love, where the character Emily says “If you’re not willing to sound stupid, you don’t deserve to be in love.” Pretty controversial statement right there, but I’d argue that she’s at least partially right, in that I think she’s saying if you’re not willing to take the risk of sounding stupid for something like love, then why do you think you deserve the reward of being in love?

Risk and reward.

I think for most of us these two factors play out in our lives every day, not just with our love lives. But for some reason, in things like our careers, we’re more willing to take those risks. I know I’ve definitely taken risks in my career that have sometimes played out well and sometimes not, but it hasn’t stopped me from continuing to take (calculated) risks with it. With my love life, however? Ehhhh, not always. And if you’ve ever found yourself uttering something like, “I’m not doing all that” or  “I’m just not trying to be somebody’s fool,” I’d argue you are more like me than you realize.

But before we talk about the idea of being the fool or sounding stupid, I think we first have to look at our definitions of love. And there are plenty. The Bible says love is patient, kind, does not envy or boast. It is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking or easily angered, and does not keep record of wrong doings. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. And it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Webster says it is a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. Oxford says it is a feeling of deep affection. They also acknowledge that it can be a verb as well as a noun. And I’ve always been told by older family members that love requires action, patience, and a willingness to be vulnerable with someone.

So there are all these various definitions that we can look to when we think of love, and yet – I think it pretty much boils down to something that is pure and good when used for the right reasons. And so if something is pure and good, and often what most of us want (at least eventually), then why are we so afraid to do whatever it takes to get it?

Fear.

Now I’ve probably talked about fear enough on this blog to last a lifetime, but it’s the only reason I can think that we put false barriers up like not wanting to play the fool. Of course no one wants to be a fool! You don’t want to spend time giving your heart to someone only to learn they don’t want it, are not ready for it, and/or have no desire to return the action. You’d be crazy to seek that out. But that doesn’t mean love doesn’t require that you take that risk to achieve it.

We don’t want to hear things like that about love though — the parts about sacrificing and giving up of one’s self. So what do we do instead? We play it cool when we want to do anything but that for fear that we’ll come off thirsty. We say things like “I could go for dinner tomorrow,” when we really want to shout out “I would love to see you tomorrow. I want to see you every tomorrow.” We let the risk of being the fool for love stop us from achieving it.

But isn’t the reward so much greater than the risk? I mean, when you really think about it?

I once had a good friend sit me down several years ago and ask me why I hadn’t truly come clean with this guy I really liked. We’d just met so he didn’t have a stake in anything, but he was really curious as to why I didn’t stand up and tell this dude what I wanted from him. You know what my response was? “Well he knew how I felt; how could he not know? And if he knew and didn’t make that move, then he didn’t really want me anyway.”

To which he responded, “Oh, so you were afraid that his answer was going to be no.”

I looked at him crazy at the time, but he was right. And then he blew my mind and asked me that evening what I’m now asking you – what if the answer is yes?

Knowing all the different definitions of love and knowing what our own personal definitions of love are, how can we say we want something so pure and good and then say we’re not willing to risk hearing that no for the chance to get the yes? And if we’re not willing to risk the no/the chance that we will be the fool, then at the very least Emily from A Lot Like Love would say we don’t deserve to have it.

What do you all think? Have there been times when you gave up on something because you were afraid you were looking like a fool? And do you even agree with the premise in the first place?





Learning to Leap in Life/Love

9 10 2013
Photo: Oprah.com

Photo: Oprah.com

“Your belief in love wasn’t strong enough to overcome your fear of rejection.”

“Yea. Greatest regret of my life.”

– Exchange between two characters on Once Upon a Time

My mom gives great advice and usually, because she’s very southern and very New Orleans, it comes in the form of old sage sayings that sound funny at first, but make a whole lot of sense later. Such is the case with one saying she’s fond of repeating to me when I’m trying to make a hard decision (after she’s given me a great Bible verse too, of course) — she’ll say to me, “Now, whatever you do —  don’t jump from the pot to the frying pan.”

Sounds funny, but I get it. It means don’t move without purpose and find yourself leaving something you thought was bad and then ending up in something even worse.

Great advice. Really.

But somehow, I internalized this as simply “don’t jump.” And so typically, I am very cautious and methodical in the things that I do. I follow specific steps and observe and analyze and dissect almost all of my decisions and then at the very last possible minute, I finally stick my toe out there into the wading pool of whatever scary idea it is that I’ve concocted. And when nothing but my toe gets wet, even though – ugh, I put myself out there! – it sends another “don’t jump” signal straight to my brain.

But, here’s the crazy part — I never (or rather, very rarely) ever actually tried leaping into something passionately, full throttle, no life jacket on to protect me, so I couldn’t say for sure that jumping hurt as much as I thought it did.

In my brain, dipping my toe in and not getting what I wanted hurt so much that leaping was unimaginable. And I’ve missed out on things because of this.

The truth, though, is that leaping (passionately, full throttle, with no life jacket on) is what those big dreams thrive on. It’s what faith (in God and the promises He’s made to you) is all about. I’m learning that these days.

This lesson started as a lot of my lessons have this year, with me almost losing a very dear friend of mine in January. With being inspired by her faith and the leap it took for her to hold on when all odds were against her. With the jump it took for me and a significant amount of her friends and family to refuse to believe God’s plan for her life was complete. And with the passion that I still see her take on everything in her life to this day, even when her days are not so good.

When a friend of yours almost dies and still struggles, but has the faith to jump into the things that make her happy,  it makes you start to see things more clearly in your own life. At least it did for me. It made me realize that I needed to stop running from… everything, that I needed to make sure I was allowing myself to be happy even while I pursued my big dreams, that it was high time I lived life fully, and oh so many more revelations.

Now, I have to admit that this leaping thing is still scary as shit sometimes. Being open. Vulnerable. Really truly going for what and who you want – whew! – it’s not for the faint of heart. It feels like (to keep this metaphor going) you’re getting ready to dive into the deepest part of the ocean when you haven’t swam in 20 years. It can make you hesitate sometimes. It can make you think about just putting a toe in to check out the waters first.

But then, thankfully, I remember that as purely frightening as leaping can be, I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier than when I’m doing it. And so some part of me screams back to those doubts — “That ain’t no ocean! It’s a 6ft pool; it just seems bigger because it’s unfamiliar. But girl, you got this. JUMP!”

And so I do. I constantly find myself jumping these days… leaping… refusing to have the regret of not moving for fear of rejection. All I know is that damn frying pan better get out of my way.





Running from Love

6 03 2013

Falling in love is one of the most vulnerable experiences that one can have in life. None of us know for sure what’s coming next, and that can be terrifying… To love is to risk. There is no way around it. If you are one to shy away from failure in life, if you are someone who plays only the games you believe you can win, then you are probably living a life that is way too small and far too boring, even for you. – Katherine Woodward Thomas

I’ve been in love 3 times, or at least that’s what I tell people when they ask. I can rattle off the guys pretty quickly, actually. The first was the guy I dated on and off my senior year of high school and into my freshman year of college. He was my first in a lot of things, but by no means my first in what many would consider THE thing. I found out freshman year that he didn’t take that relationship nearly as seriously as I did. The second was a really good friend who became a lover in college and also, eventually, was the man I decided to have sex with for the first time. Things ended a month later.  And the third? Well, the third was Jake.

And so even though I can quickly tell you who I’ve loved, the truth is I’ve lived what my girl S Curl calls an amor cauteloso (a cautious love) for most of my life. This cautious love has manifested in many ways, but mostly it’s resulted in me being scared that the bottom would fall out from me the moment I admitted my feelings, and thus I’ve run away from these feelings at every chance possible.

When I think about it, I realize that I’ve loved without risk. Often, my love has come reluctantly, after I’ve done all the avoiding I can possibly do, and finally resigned myself to the fact that despite all my efforts – damn it, I’ve fallen for this man. And usually, because I’ve been so focused on the bad that may come, it eventually does, not because that’s what happens – but because that’s what I put my focus and energy on.

Obviously, this is not the healthiest example of love. But it’s also just not a very good example either.

For what is love if it’s not opening yourself up to the possibility of pain? What’s love if it doesn’t include being vulnerable with someone to the point that they can hurt you, but knowing that they will do everything in their power not to? What’s love if it doesn’t include trusting that person with your heart; if it doesn’t make you happy; if it doesn’t grow you stronger? And how can you have this exciting, passionate, and yet healthy love if you’re constantly running away from the thought of being that open and that vulnerable with someone?

You can’t.

And so in my attempts to eliminate the chances of being hurt, all I’ve done so far is make those chances greater. I’ve hurt men who loved me. I’ve avoided my feelings for others and pushed them away before the risk became too great. And for what? The world doesn’t end when you tell someone you love them, even if that love is not reciprocated. No, it keeps going. And you keep going, but with the knowledge that you’ve done your part in being honest and open to your experiences.

For the longest time, I talked that talk. Just like with faith, I could quote scripture about love and talk about how it was a verb and not just a feeling, but I continuously ran from it. Always afraid. Always scared. Forever questioning the validity of those feelings. That fear also showed itself in other parts of my life, creeping into not just my relationships with men, but also with my friends and in my hopes and desires – because that’s what fear does. It doesn’t just stay in one part of your life. It grows and festers everywhere.

So, I continued to play it safe. I continued to take as little risk as possible. I continued to shy away from the possibility of failure, even with evidence showing that the times when I did take big chances, I was rewarded because of my leap of faith.  And the truth is I’ve been running from… well, a lot for a long time. And now, it’s time to stop. It’s time to let it all go and declare that I don’t want to run any longer.

That I’m no longer afraid.