I Am Loved

A few weeks ago, after a so-so therapy session, I thought about how I rarely believe people when they tell me that they love me.

I decided that maybe, along with reminding myself that I am worthy of love, I should also work on remembering that I’m already loved by at least a handful of people.

Being myself, I couldn’t just leave it at that. I wanted to gain some understanding of this kind-of-epiphany. I’ve spent a lot of the last year thinking that I didn’t believe that they loved me because I didn’t feel worthy of love. But I wondered if there was something more. So I turned to the internet.

One idea that really drew me in talked about the “…need to observe, judge, and categorize human behavior as love.” He goes on to say “…there must be a lot of folks that love you, but you may have to learn that everybody manifests it in different ways.” He calls it a “…disconnect between observation and perception of love.”

Basically, we expect love to look a certain way and if someone doesn’t meet those expectations, it is easy for us to believe that that person doesn’t love us (even if they tell us that they do). After all, we’ve been taught that actions are more important than words (just look at the title of this blog).

This, unsurprisingly, made me think of The 5 Love Languages. So I went and took their quiz. I think the last time I did it was about a year ago, during my last relationship. I was mostly curious to see what they had to say about our love language in relation to the love languages of those who love us.

They say “You may have scored certain ones of the love languages more highly than others, but do not dismiss those other languages as insignificant…Your friends and loved ones may express love in those ways, and it will be beneficial for you to understand this about them.”

So I’m going to challenge myself to expand my idea of what love looks like. To realize that different people show love in different ways. To remember that I can tell people what way works best for me, and I shouldn’t discount what ways come naturally to them.


Follow Up: On Anger

I had a momentous breakthrough this week.

I wrote about my experience with and fear of anger a short while ago, and this week something finally clicked.

My experience with anger can be summarized by: suppression, suppression, explosion, fear, suppression. I thought the way to break out of this was to find a way to express rather than suppress anger, but trying to do that, I ran into a wall.

When I expressed what I thought was anger, I was usually blaming or just being plain old mean. I knew, logically, that blaming is not productive and that being mean is not my goal.

Both are interesting. Both are weirdly pleasurable in that first moment, in that first release, before you’ve really had time to process. But neither one is actually expressing the anger.

Expressing anger honestly confounded me. For weeks, maybe even months now, I’ve been trying to figure out a healthy way to express anger. I’ve been reading articles and seeking guidance. And I have felt no closer to an answer than before.

I started boxing a couple of weeks ago thinking that will be a great way to let the anger out. Except I usually forget to be angry when I’m boxing. I’m too focused on the movement. And then I chide myself for another missed opportunity to express my anger.

Then, this past week, it dawned on me.

It dawned on me in a mindfulness training I was taking at work (how lucky am I, by the way)! One of the instructors was describing the way he physically felt when he was angry. And something fell into place in my brain. A connection was made.

Anger is a feeling, just like any other feeling. It doesn’t necessarily need to be expressed, it needs to be acknowledged and gently processed.

I don’t need to find a way to vent my anger every time I feel angry. And while, hopefully, boxing can become a healthy outlet for anger when I do need to do that, I don’t need boxing to process anger.

I just need to breathe into it.

I need to notice where I’m feeling anger in my body and I need to focus my attention there, just for a little while. I need to label it.

I probably need to remind myself, compassionately, that everyone experiences anger and acknowledge that it must be a little scary for me to do so.

And maybe I can ask if there is something I can do for that anger then. If not just sitting with it for a moment instead of ignoring it is enough.

With time and kind attention, like all other feelings, anger will pass.


Fearless Friday: Facing Another Coping Mechanism

Loneliness haunts me.

A week ago I was so lonely, I created a tinder account again. In that moment it was under the guise of wanting to have sex, and thinking maybe finding someone to have casual sex with would be good for right now.

It took me 12 hours (mostly of sleep) to recognize the pattern and get rid of my Tinder account.

There’s nothing wrong with dating apps of any sort, it just depends on how you use them.

I don’t know if I’ve ever said this on here, but I realized this year that I use men as a kind of coping mechanism. When I’m upset, I turn to men. Whether it be to find comfort in them. Or to pick a fight with them. Or to blame them for my feelings. It’s what I do. And it feels a little uncomfortable to acknowledge that.

It’s a little weird how often I think I’m upset because of Peter and think “maybe I just need to cut him out of my life.” Only to find myself telling the story to my therapist and realizing I didn’t mention Peter once. Often, what I’m feelings have nothing to do with him. Yet he’s the one I’m quick to blame.

It’s weird.

It’s weird, these beliefs that often drive our lives without our knowing.

Today I keep going back and forth between heavy sadness and light knowingness. I am sad because my one great wonderful friend at work moved to another area. For a long time my chats with him were the reason I was willingly coming to work every day. And now, though it’s only been a few days, I can see where that is changing. I feel lonely at work again.

But in a weird way, this event solidified something I already knew. I need to move on from here. At least for the time being. I need to go check out something new, and learn about myself.

Like I did with Peter.

Like I did with men.

Several months after I broke up with Peter, I broke up with men. It was when I realized that men had been a coping mechanism for a lot of feelings I’ve buried down from when I was a child. I stopped dating. I got rid of all my apps. And I kept reminding myself that I wanted and needed to be single for a while.

It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Maybe the second scariest after breaking up with Peter. Maybe the third after leaving my first job and moving to Oregon. They’re probably about on the same page. I didn’t realize, until this decision, how many beliefs I held around dating. Sure, being single sucks, but as long as I haven’t given up on love I’ll be OK eventually.

Being single and not seeking was leaving me nauseous and anxious and scared. I hated many moments of it, but I also saw the rewards on the horizon. I saw how getting to really know myself would feel. How having an idea of my passions, of my values, of what I refuse to give up, would finally give me the sense of self I’ve been missing.

I’m still in the midst of the journey, I think. That’s the struggle, I don’t know when this being single and not seeking will end.

I know I want to know myself.

But I’ve also, at the same time, made sure to make myself be known. To old friends and new. To my ex and good friend, which is complicated. A lot of losing myself was losing myself in order to please others. I didn’t lose myself because I didn’t want to know, I lost myself because I feared that I wasn’t good enough, wouldn’t be loved and accepted as I was.

So in finding, I am also sharing. When I hear a song I like, I share it. When I read a book I appreciate, I let someone know. When I learn something important about myself I make sure to tell others. I am slowly compiling a list of things I like. I am slowly compiling a list of activities that bring me joy and calm.

It is strange, the type of love you feel when you let yourself be known and that you is embraced. It is strange what that acceptance stirs inside of you. I recognize it. I had had it before. And then I lost it. It slipped through my fingers. And I knew the only way to get it back would be so so hard.

People are complicated. A person is complicated. People, and the relationships between them, that might be beyond the scope of true understanding. There are too many factors. That’s why, in my opinion, those dating sites that claim to match people are full of it.

There is no science behind love and attraction.

Yes, there is an understanding of what love looks like in the brain. Of what chemicals and hormones get released. There have been studies trying to find correlations between successful relationships and anything. But I think this is beyond us. And I think that is a wonderful thing.

Yesterday, I felt I was in love. And in feeling so I chided myself for being childish and naïve. But that is what love is. Love is childish and naïve. It is a huge risk with no guaranteed rewards. It often leads to hurt and grief. But for those moments it doesn’t, love is the most wonderful thing.

I told my therapist yesterday that until Colin, my history was one of unrequited love.

Then I realized that was a lie.

Until Peter, my history was one of unrequited love.

I was ashamed of this.

Our society sees someone who loves and isn’t loved back as someone weak and desperate and sad.

How horrible for our society.

I think being open to love, no matter the reciprocation, shows immense courage and strength.

There are a lot of people that I love in this world. There are a lot of people that spark my interest. If I kept shoving those feelings down, I’d be lost to myself. But I don’t do that anymore. I let the feelings flow through me. I write about them. I talk about them. I tell people if I can.