‘I am curious about your use of the word allow.’
My breath caught in my throat, tightness grabbed at my heart, and for a second the sense of vertigo was there, I was on the precipice looking down. What had she seen, what had I shown, and why did she hone in on that phrase.
‘I want to offer you some words… notice what happens when you hear them…. It’s OK to allow yourself to be loved.’
I turned in, felt the instability in my seat, felt myself twisting just a bit as I looked into that place where it felt scary. I could see how I interacted with love, how it was a commodity in my life. How I let some people love me in whatever way they could, and for others, I had to have in just this way, or it did not count. It felt unfair, and that rattled me even further, the little kid in me was really familiar with unfair and did not want anything to do with it.
‘It seems like there is a lot going on in there... what do you notice?’
I noticed the turmoil inside and got curious about it. What was this turmoil? Where did it come from? With gentle work, things began to become clearer, the ways in which I restricted love became apparent. I could see how I was trying to water a field with a garden hose when there was a firehose next to me ready for use, and that garden hose had been in use since I was 4 years old.
Like many things in life, this interaction with love was unknown to me. It takes place beyond my conscious ‘knowing’ and it was being run like most unconscious programs and strategies, behind the scenes, on automatic. I just went through my day, and never once gave consideration to the way I interacted with love. Why would I, it was coming from somewhere, and enough of it, so I did not feel like I was suffering, what could be wrong? It is like walking with a limp after the cast comes off. Your ankle is repaired, and for the most part does not hurt, yet the limp is still there. Somehow it has been incorporated into your system, so you just do this without thinking about it, or at times, even noticing. Here I was doing just that, not noticing what happened automatically.
My interaction and history with love was ‘complicated’. Being an adopted child, there was some part of me that carried around a feeling of rejection early on, colouring how I interacted with love. For the longest time, I felt like love was something that had to be earned. I was good at earning the positive attention, I learned that when I did well, the adults in my life rewarded me with affection. It is a pattern that has persisted until more recently. It is not terrible, it has led to a very productive life, but productive at a cost. Productive because anything less would lead to a withdrawal of the love in my life from me (or so it seemed).
In 2015, I had a dramatic shift in the way that I saw love, a shift as a result of seeing something from a different point of view. As a result of this shift in my view point, I was able to allow myself to be loved without producing and being productive, sometimes. I began to see how love and productivity had nothing to do with each other. But still, there was this fear when she contacted this place within me, this place that reacted to ‘it is ok to allow yourself to be loved.’ What lay within this phrase that held such fear?
‘Let’s just hang out here, in this place that feels so complicated…. Just hang out and see what wants to happen.’
There is something unexpected that happens when you simply hang out with someone at a place of discomfort, in a place that scares you, just sitting there with someone who indeed wishes you well, who holds your heart close regardless of what you do, or how you are doing. It is in this relationship, that magic happens, that possibilities open that were not there before, that you begin to see into the potentials that you would otherwise be too afraid to notice. So, she sat with me, not saying much, but letting me know she was there, that I was not doing this alone, and in that space something new began to unfold, a possibility that had not been available.
I allowed myself to be loved, could that mean I also disallowed myself to be loved? How did I do this? And why? Just hanging out, hearing her reassurance, things began to move, to shift, I could see how I was loved, and I could see how I allowed love in. I could see the filter that was in place that love had to come through depending on the source and seeing that filter broke my heart just a little bit. I could see a little boy who could only hear love in a certain way, a father who did not speak that language, and how that filter had remained in place despite the many years. I began to look at the language he spoke, and to see within that language the ways in which love was expressed. In that moment that I turned to this little one inside me, to talk to him of the many languages of love, and the ways that our parents spoke that language. We talked of the reasons that he did not speak our language, of the ways this language had not been a part of his life, and that like any language, it is easier to learn when you are young and so much more difficult when you get older. We talked about choices, the choices we make, and whether or not they are ‘forever’ choices, and if they are not, we could choose something else, we could we choose to listen to the language with new ears.
‘It seems like something has shifted in you.’
Still with me, she reached out through the shifting sands of my mind to touch upon the change that was taking place, this change she had noticed as she tracked my actions, reaction, and silent expressions. She had seen this shift, and in naming it, I felt it slide into place. I could choose to see the love that was there, to see it without requirement for translation or alteration, to see it as it is, in this moment, right now. Small tears slide down my face as I felt that love that I had held at arm’s length for so long, and felt it stretch back across the years.
If any of resonates for you, and you happen to be curious, and wish to know more, do not hesitate to drop me a line. If you would like to know more about my work, or to work with me, feel free to contact me. I post regularly to Instagram (@gilgrimes), Twitter (gilgrimes) , Medium and Facebook (gilgrimes) about whatever arises. And if you would like to stay in touch sign up for my newsletter (probably once or twice a month at most).