I know you. I know your heart.
You, who have always been let down. You, who can never trust anyone to stay.
Always, you have invested all of yourself into relationships. You have worn your heart proudly on your sleeve, and you have made yourself vulnerable each time, in an effort to love and be loved in return.
And each time, you have grieved the loss of people who were not who they said they were. People who showed up to your vulnerable honesty with duplicity and self-interest. People who left without a word, boots leaving muddy prints across the pieces of your heart that lay scattered on the floor.
And sometimes you wonder what you have done wrong.
You ache with loneliness and feel that you’re serving a sentence for crimes of the heart you didn’t commit. You, who have always been loyal. You, who have lost yourself so many times in relationships where you weren’t cherished.
And then someone comes along who treats you well.
Who doesn’t make you wonder where you stand. Who keeps showing up for you.
And you, with your patched heart that’s longing for affection, cannot handle the open love. It feels like hurt at first because you’ve never known anything but games. You don’t believe you’re worthy, so it’s much easier to dismiss the love freely given, to roll your eyes and throw it away—unable to understand how it can possibly be for you.
It’s so much easier to self-sabotage, to find a million things wrong with the one who keeps showing up because you’re so afraid that one day, they won’t show up anymore. And how much worse would it feel for love—freely given and finally accepted—to be taken away? Wouldn’t that hurt so much worse than the half loves and indifferent lovers who have come and gone before? And so you guard your heart by only giving it to those who have no interest in keeping it.
I know you.
I have been you, sitting in disbelief that anything good would come to me. Trusting only in the game I’ve grown familiar with because I know all the moves, from the start to the bitter end. Never feeling worthy and aching with loneliness—never knowing what it feels like for love to be given to me without having to grasp for it and hold on so tight. To work so hard to keep it for such a brief amount of time.
But there’s hope.
Because, despite all of your beliefs, you are indeed worthy. You are worthy of a love you don’t have to chase or beg to stay. You are worthy of being treated well by someone who adores you for all that makes you wonderful, including your imperfections and rough edges.
You deserve to show up with your vulnerability and open heart and be met by someone who would never intentionally hurt you, who feels lucky to have you, who cherishes your fragile heart. You are worthy of trusting and being trusted, of being your authentic self and being met with authenticity. Of never having to bend yourself into a new shape to be loved.
And when that love comes for you, and it likely will, please remember:
Don’t throw it away because you don’t know how to accept it. Please take the time to think about why you’re so uncomfortable with being treated well.
Trace it back to the start, before you begin your campaign of self-sabotage. And when you find that broken place that never healed, where some other lover bruised your gentle soul, it’s okay to kiss that broken place, to cherish it and heal it. To acknowledge it by speaking of it, and trying hard to accept being treated well. To embrace the love that is given without shying away in fear.
Don’t run away from your hurting places. Your past cannot be erased by new kindness.
We’ve all loved and been broken. And we need to stop running from our hurt and instead learn to feel it, and be free of it, finally. To say, “This is what I’ve lived,” and still allow ourselves to be treated in a way we’ve never experienced. To put the other loves to rest where they belong: in the past. To acknowledge that what we’re looking for isn’t hidden in those broken pieces of our past. It’s ahead of us, if only we’ll open ourselves to accepting the love we deserve.
Don’t react. Learn to accept all of the treatment you’ve dreamed of, but secretly felt you didn’t deserve or would never receive. So when it comes your way and you feel fear, please don’t react. Not just yet. When your knee-jerk reaction is to run or to deny or to get as far away as you can from it, just stay. Sit with your feelings and understand that your reactions have been conditioned from all of the years of being neglected, unappreciated, and taken for granted.
Allow new reactions to form, the kind based only on what is happening now—not on the past or future fears.
I know your heart. I know how you long to be loved and yet are so very afraid to be hurt. And so broken. And yet so much stronger than you have ever believed. And so much more worthy than you know.
Don’t throw a good love away because others have let you down.
You deserve to be loved for everything you are. You deserve to be appreciated and cherished. You deserve to be met with honesty, authenticity, and kindness. Yes, you. You, with your heart that never feels anything but broken, that aches for more but has no clue how to even begin accepting love.
Don’t run away this time. Don’t leave because it’s easier to be hurt now than to be hurt later. Learn to accept the love that’s worthy of a heart like yours.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Catherine Monkman