“Love is giving someone the ability to destroy you, but trusting them not to.” – Suzanne Wright
We all layer every day. You may not think much of washing up then putting on clothes and jackets before getting into your car. It’s all layers, really. We also layer ourselves mentally and emotionally in accordance to our surroundings and the people present. We adapt our language, mannerisms and posture to those around us without really thinking about it. We might give a quiet chuckle with work colleagues and a hearty guffaw with our closest chums. Layers.
“No one will ever love you as much as I do, ” was one of the last things one of my exes said to me. The same person was also physically and emotionally abusive. So, for a long time, I equated love with pain and sadness. I also judged myself as not having value as a person because the only love I garnered came with a price tag of sorts. I built my whole layering system around pushing everyone away and building up walls. Even close friends didn’t make it to my inner circles for fear of the pain they had potential to cause. I assumed that I was unlovable and, therefore, should keep quiet and do my time. That happiness was something for other people. I didn’t get that channel with my sub-par rabbit ears.
I was able to keep this up for several years before I realized that I was so lonely when I didn’t really have to be. It took a few really great friends to help me see my value. That I was worthy of friendship and love and other good things in life. I came to understand that I had been in my own way all along. It wasn’t that the world was out to get me or that I was worthless, but that I needed to be more open. I needed to invest and be willing to take chances. To do the hard things. To make meaningful changes over time, no matter how small. If I was able to be my own source of calm and “serenity now,” others would see it and want to be part of it. I found peace and I could sleep at night. I was able to get off of antidepressants and start to FEEL things again, both good and bad. But, oh the joy of feeling life again!
I decided that when I finished the Atlanta chapter of my life that I would use those lessons when I moved here to Maine. I could shed my old skin and start new. This would be a good change–a chance to flex my layers. A chance to let new people in and take some risks. Make friends. Teach. Volunteer. Even fall in love. I have had some successes and some failures. It has not been painless. I feel like I am still growing. Far from perfect, but growing all the same.
My choices are to either return to my fortress of solitude or to shed some layers, taking the bad along with the good. Give myself to the mud in the hopes that I can someday grow into a lotus flower.