Updated: May 7, 2019
If you’ve ever been hurt, betrayed, manipulated, or used you most likely have a hard time opening-up to new people. Our mind instinctively wants to protect us from harm, and we have learnt to associate people with harm. We develop social anxiety, trust issues, and self-isolating avoidant behavior. We distract ourselves with literally anything to keep us from thinking about how we are lonely but have no idea how to fix it because trying to connect with people always seems to lead to pain.
I have been terrified of dealing with people, making friends, and especially dating, because I had been hurt my whole life, by everyone I ever let in. I grew up in a toxic home with a narcissistic father who made me feel unloved, and unworthy of love, thus setting me up for failure with every other relationship I would attempt for years to come.
It was bad
Because I lived in a toxic environment, I was toxic. Toxic behavior was what I knew, was used to, and what I expected. Being around healthy people was uncomfortable because they would make me feel judged. They made me feel like they were, or thought they were, better than me. Truthfully, I didn’t even know how to act around them.
Because I had toxic behavior, and always expected others to act toxic, healthy people were uncomfortable around me as well. We repelled each other. Instead I was draw to people who “got me”, meaning other toxic people. I was drawn to what I was familiar with. I was drawn to abuse.
I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be able to trust people. I wanted to have long-lasting meaningful friendships and relationships, but I didn’t know how to get that. I also kept choosing the opposite. I kept dating jerks who treated me badly. I kept making friends with people who used me for money and car rides. With every burnt relationship was more proof that all people in the whole world would always hurt me.
After a particularly abusive relationship I self-isolated almost completely. For 3 years I did not date anyone, sleep with anyone, or even crush on anyone. I began a new career path, which left me too broke to even go out with the few friends I had left, and devoted my life to healing which, spoiler alert, paid off. For 3 years it was mostly me and my cats, and as time passed, I started to wonder if I would ever be able to let anyone in ever again. I wondered if more cats really was the answer.
Then Everything Changed
Then one day, by some divine intervention (quite literally), I met this guy who melted my frozen little Grinch heart. Something I never thought would happen, ever, and I… was pissed. I felt like I lost control of myself and my feelings. I felt terrified that I was about to be hurt, and like I was being a complete idiot because love=pain, and people suck!
I tried really, really hard, but I couldn’t shake it. I realized that I was going to have to go through this one way or another, and if that meant getting my heart ripped out and thrown into a wood chipper, so be it. I also realized that he was different. This was different. After 3 years of celibacy and focusing on my healing I had finally gotten to a point where I didn’t choose a**holes. This guy, was actually a good person.
That’s the part we forget. WE CHOOSE. We choose the toxic people because there is something inside us that needs to be healed, and the Universe is trying to show it to us.
Once I accepted that I was choosing better I could see that I had more power over my feelings than I thought. I could also see that I was keeping myself away from the life I really wanted. I was keeping myself in pain in order to protect myself from pain.
I realized that part of loving yourself is protecting yourself from people who want to hurt you, and the other part of it, the part I had been missing for so long, is knowing that you deserve love and connection with good people who want the best for you. It’s understanding that keeping the right people from loving you is the opposite of loving yourself.
You Deserve Better
After years of grueling inner work, I have discovered the secrets to choosing the right people to let in and how to overcome the debilitating fear that you will be hurt again. The fear that people will reject you for being you. That feeling of walking on eggshells, never knowing if people aren’t responding to text messages because they finally discarded you, or if people really like you or are manipulating you.
I never imagined I’d have the ever-expanding friend circle I have today full of people I respect and adore. I’m now friends with people I feel like I can really be myself with, and actually trust. I never thought I’d feel safe enough to let my guard down and be vulnerable with people, while knowing without a shadow of a doubt that it was going to be ok. I sure as heck never thought I’d let a man into my heart.
It’s everything I never knew I wanted. This is what life is meant to feel like. Even your life.