I was the little girl that wasn’t afraid of anything. I was eager to climb the tallest trees in the woods by my house or roam out into new cities in foreign countries without a map or guidebook to suggest a path. I loved the feeling of driving fast or blowing wind in a wicked storm.
There was a part of me that I believed was always destined for adventure and I knew that if I put any kind of fear of jumping in my way, I’d never go out and do all the things I knew I was capable of.
The thing was, even with all of this in mind, I was still so much of a coward.
I was afraid of being loved.
Such an odd fear, but sadly not an uncommon one. Love is a tricky and touchy subject, beginning with lust and ending with bonds between two people that can withstand the turbulence of time. Love means breaking through the surface of the walls we build around our most fragile pieces in protection from a world far too frequently cold and cut throat. If we are to truly love someone, we love all of them fully and wholeheartedly. There is no way to love somebody halfway, you can only dive into an abyss and pray that there’s going to be someone still there to hold your hand when you break the surface.
I admit to being bad at this.
I was raised to believe that being treated kindly was a sign of weakness and receiving help made you weak. Though this allowed me to become highly independent, when it came to romantic involvement, I had no idea how to respond to compassion. It was easy to chase those who treated me the worst because I understood how to react to those who made me feel small. If I kept myself in this sphere of toxic men, I’d never date anyone that would make me question whether or not I had to walk on eggshells or was worth being respected outside of the realm of attraction.
But then, there was a fatal curveball thrown into my plan of self containment: a man I realized that I was falling for.
Our first date, he tried to hold the door open for me and I refused to walk through. Compliments were easily disregarded. He was engaging and kind and everything that a girl could hope to find in someone to take on as a companion. He had made it clear that he had fallen for me.
And I was terrified when I felt myself falling back for him just the same.
So I ran, tried it out with new people, looked for relationships that didn’t matter, and left him in the dust because I was afraid of breaking and having to start all over again with learning that love was not weakness and compassion was not a monstrous action.
I didn’t find anything good in those bad people. All I found was hurt. All I found was that life is too short to go running after people who are only going to hurt you. The universe was not created to torture you into believing you were worthless to make your stronger.
It is love that is the strongest ability of them all. And after a roundabout time learning and figuring out what that meant, I came back to the person that I should’ve trusted with myself all along, and that is perhaps one of the best choices I could’ve ever made.
Being loved is not as hard as I’d always liked to make it seem. Being loved is not about being over the top or excessive with the idea that your feelings for that person are the only thing that exists in the entire world. Being loved is more than stereotypical acts of compassion and admiration. Being loved is the ability to accept that you are worth something and someone else believes it too. Being loved is brave in taking walls down and building a dual set of stairs to better places together instead. Being loved is as simple as accepting all and everything and making each other whole.
I cannot say now in this moment that I am 100% over my phobia of being loved. I think that everyday is a process towards accepting the truth in yourself and those around you and learning to understand all about this world that we live in and the people we can be with in it.
The funniest thing to me about fear is that once we accept the fear and face it, we are usually able to get over it and move to bigger and better aspects of focus. Love is one of the most beautiful and rare parts of the human experience, and just like heights and storms, it’s not going away anytime soon. What makes it any different from those fears to face?
In fact, falling in love and letting yourself be loved is a whole lot like skydiving.
The best part only happens when you let go.
Poulson is an editor for The Millennial Times.