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Letting Intuition Be the Guide: A Lesson In Vulnerability

2 Heart it! Jane Holloway 107
September 21, 2018
Jane Holloway
2 Heart it! 107

Starting a new relationship is not only exciting, but also inherently nerve-wracking. Especially when you’ve come out on the other side of a marriage with a high-conflict spouse and are left with a lot of internal rebuilding to do. To keep my heart and spirit from being threatened or walked-on again, I needed to have certain defense mechanisms strategically put in place (which superseded personal boundaries). I knew that I had these protective layers and I told myself that I was doing good by not fully putting myself out there and risking vulnerability.

Lo-and-behold, it turned out that this advanced security system was not only shielding me from the “bad stuff,” it was also impeding my intuition from guiding me to experiences that could enhance my life in a positive way.

Recently, these protective layers were challenged as I dipped my toes back into the “dating scene.” I didn’t dive head first into it. Nor did I even make the conscious decision that it was what I was doing. I’ve been separated for over two years and divorced for the last nine months and dating hasn’t been the top priority. Getting comfortable in my loneliness and navigating life as a single-parent have been the frontrunners. 

About eight weeks ago I was asked out by a random customer who came into my work (the first time this has happened since I’ve been single). Despite not having a direct interaction with him, I still got a highly uncomfortable vibe. The whole time my co-worker was educating him about some materials, he wouldn’t stop ogling me. So I was caught off-guard when he called the store about an hour after he left to set up a date. We had an awkward conversation that didn’t set anything in stone, but didn’t close the door completely either. After I got off the phone I had those pangs of intuitive knowing that this guy was not someone to get involved with. I only hoped that by not saying, “Sure, I’d love to get coffee with you!” was enough to keep him from coming back to officially inquire.

At home that night, those strong vibes shot through my body again. This guy was definitely not someone I should get involved with.

When my mind had its way and caused me to question every feeling I was experiencing, I started to ask: Am I overreacting? Was I projecting emotions from my last relationship? Was I being too sensitive? Was I scared to be vulnerable because of the dysfunction I’ve experienced?

Fortunately, nothing came to fruition and the whole thing fell by the wayside. However, one morning about six weeks later while stepping into work, that same customer walked in right behind me. He reintroduced himself, passed me a gift card for a local coffee shop and told me where he worked so if I wanted to “grab that coffee sometime” I’d know where to find him. While I was startled to see him again, I felt empowered and more inquisitive and less nervous overall.

Curiosity (or maybe loneliness) got the better of me, so I mulled over contacting this guy for a few days. I went back and forth between accepting my gut feeling of “No, no, and no!” as being accurate, to my mind telling me that I was possibly missing out on meeting a really great person. It couldn’t be that bad because he waited so long to come back in, right? In retrospect, I had been very closed off to the notion of meeting men in general since my separation and divorce. I’d been downright intimidated based on many experiences I’ve had, so I wasn’t allowing myself to fully open up to anyone new.

I convinced myself that one coffee date wasn’t going to seal my fate and that getting out of my comfort zone could be really empowering for me (knowing that I was not in any real danger). While the overall outing was pleasant, there were red flags that I noticed early on, yet still internally told myself that I could potentially date this guy. Even with bold similarities between many of his mannerisms and personality traits that my ex-embodied which were dysfunctional and scary, my conscious mind still planted that seed of possibility.

It wasn’t until the day after when I started to acknowledge those little red flags that my intuition was sharing with me from the beginning. During a few text conversations I recognized communication flaws very similar to what I experienced with my last partner. Big, bright red warning signs. After things were not solidifying for our next date because he was prioritizing other things instead of seeing me, I asked myself what the hell I was doing.

After taking a step back, I finally saw how my choices were potentially setting me up for a repeat of my past. I was rationalizing his behavior for so many reasons, but they were stemming from those still aching parts of my ego that yearn for connection and partnership, to not keep doing life in such a lonesome way. Alas, I messaged him that evening to let him know I was not interested in a second date or seeing him again period. Even his response glossed over the reasons I chose to cancel which proved that I was making a wise decision in not advancing this potential relationship.

This situation tested me in a way that I hadn’t been in quite some time. It showed me how much I’ve grown while also helping me realize exactly what I expect out of a partner and not being afraid to communicate those things. It also validated how I need to practice listening to my inner GPS on a regular basis and use it more confidently in my decision making processes. I came to a better understanding that ego is more thought-based, wrapped in all of our self-doubt and irrational fears. “In your head” if you will, while intuition is based on an internal knowing and/or feeling.

As simple as it might sound, it’s a big step for me to finally admit to myself that I’m open and excited about the possibility of a relationship. Eventually, I will meet a man who aligns with my life and values (and quirks) as much as I align with his. Things that are worthwhile, take time, so there is no rush. Relationships are not about hard, tireless work, they are about work that both parties are equally willing to do. Not because they have to, but because they choose to.

I’ll allow this part of my life to unfold slowly as I sail along these uncharted waters, checking my ego, opening more to vulnerability, knowing that I’m stronger and safe to be me. I’ll continue to let my guards down gently and give myself time to fully take in every present situation and the people involved; there are plenty more opportunities for growth to take place. There will also be more moments of joy to relish in. I’m going to do my damnedest to remain discerning and open and not let ego back me into those dark corners anymore. And of course, thanking my inner guidance system when it gives me a concrete “Nooooope!”, instead of over-analyzing and second-guessing every blip on the radar.

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2 Heart it! Jane Holloway 107
2 Heart it! 107

mili.romsny Sep 21, 2018 9:21pm

Jane, I am older than you, and while I’m married, I am still learning to trust my intuition and not over analyze why I might feel hesitation about putting energy into relationships with certain people. I am learning that I don’t have to be “friends” with everyone. As much as it’s up to me, I need to be at peace with people and be kind, but I don’t have to use energy and open my heart to everyone just because they seem nice (in a way). Some people are just NOT good for us. I am learning to trust my intuition/those red flags, and not feel bad about saving my energy, time and heart for people who I can be in a mutually supportive and uplifting relationship with, instead of feeling drained and beaten up, over and over again, and then making excuses for them. It applies to romantic relationships and friendships just the same. Anyway, thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to love myself and trust my intuition.

    Jane Holloway Sep 23, 2018 1:30pm

    Thank you for your comment. I admire your courage and self-awareness to start trusting yourself and being unafraid to move away from something or someone that doesn’t *feel* right. I believe it’s a life-long practice and one that I’m constantly learning from. We can still be loving, compassionate humans without taking on everyone’s *stuff*, or continuing in relationships that have unhealthy dynamics or harm our spirits. Sending you much love and support in your journey.

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