I was single for 4 years after my daughter’s dad left to go to college when we were both 17. To say I had a fear of being left is an understatement. Not just being left, but being abandoned. For the first 4 years after her dad, I bounced between being content and being afraid of relationships – often times I couldn’t tell the difference.
When I stumbled into a relationship, I was just excited that someone was paying attention to me. Anyone else been there?? The fact that he didn’t run when I told them about being a mom was a plus. We had fun together and he showed me adventure like I’d never seen. Yet, he wanted more from me. He wanted intimacy and vulnerability. It wasn’t that I didn’t want that. Although I couldn’t have told you at the time – I just wanted someone not to leave me. Honestly, I knew I didn’t want to be with him. But my fear that someone wouldn’t want me again was strong enough to stay put. For three years, I stayed stuck and half-committed. Knowing what I wanted, but truly not knowing where to begin to try different.
Fast forward three years and I was exactly where I’d been before, stuck in the same spiral. Content, not afraid.
My daughter’s dad was part of our lives again (a story for another time I suppose) and we had spent three years rebuilding a co-parenting relationship. Many people in my life would say, “I know you’ll end up together”. But if you asked me I’d say, “that’ll never happen” every time. Subconsciously, I kept him at arms length for years. Looking back, it was my test. Testing to see if he’d stay. Would he be consistent? I was afraid to be wrong, so I kept moving the finish line farther back. But eventually, he had surpassed all my tests; so at this point… it wasn’t him anymore. This was the first time it had crossed my mind that I had been creating unwinnable tests, setting hidden expectations and maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t the only one that needed to change. He had returned a different man. Responsible, an unbelievably caring father and loved me as his co-parent in a way every mom desires.
It seemed like as soon as I acknowledged my feelings for him, all my baggage from past hurts tumbled in with a vengeance. I had already walked through a long forgiveness journey with him. So why is my fear so loud and in charge?
You know what I was afraid of?
But I also feared…
God’s vision for me was a rich relationship full of intimacy and trust. My responsibility was to seek healing so I wasn’t leading with my past hurts and insecurities. But what I didn’t know is that I didn’t have to do it alone.
The first time I shared a fear with Matt (my daughter’s dad), it didn’t go perfectly. My trigger of abandonment hit on his trigger of not being trusted. We talked, sought to understand the other person and found a deep closeness through conflict. All because of willingness to share a fear. Could sharing really hold that much power?
Ultimately, these fears created the roadmap to my healing. If I look at the inverse of each fear, it points to what needed a closer look. Only after a deep dive into my hurt for the purpose of healing (therapy) could I see so clearly why I showed up unhealthily in relationships. And honestly, the fear part is not silenced completely. But when it rears its ugly head, I now know I can choose what to do with it. If I can’t calm it by myself, sharing the burden loosens the grip.
I get it, friend because I’ve been there. Alone, I was unable to understand my relationship and personal patterns. Talking through it with an expert transformed my awareness. Not only do I have more personal insight into my blindspots and move with more awareness now, but I was able to enter a relationship ready to navigate the hard with more guidance and tools.
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