Dancing outside my comfort zone

My Own Words Come Back and Slap Me In the Face

In my last article, I wrote the following words:

Very few have ever gotten close enough to be able to hurt me.

After writing them within the context of the article and publishing it, I sat down to meditate. The words hovered in the forefront of my consciousness, almost taunting me to examine them further. Being unable to resist the temptation, I decided to use my next article, this one, in fact, to explore the idea further.

I looked back at the men in my life over the years. I realized that in every case, though I felt hurt over one thing or another when our brief interlude ended, it was never my heart which was hurt, but my pride. Thus, the words so casually tossed into the last thing I wrote for public consumption are not only the plain, unvarnished truth, but a sad commentary on my 61 years on this planet.

Being Worthy

For a long time, I was like so many others who believe they don’t deserve to be loved. It isn’t a conscious choice we make. After all, who would make such a choice? It’s more a sense of worthiness, and mine was decidedly lacking, and, as such, was reflected not only in the men I attracted, but people in general.

When I finally started telling myself a different story, my entire social circle changed. For a while, it meant I spent a lot of time alone, but as I returned to the activities which had always brought me joy, I found new people entering my life who shared the joyfulness. Even so, it took a long time for those friendships to become more than surface-level. My old habits still lurk beneath the surface. I’m still hesitant to expose my soft inner core and be vulnerable with anyone.

Chinks in the Walls

But lately, a few have begun to scratch beneath my surface. They read my words and, often times, recognize something similar in themselves. That recognition helps establish a connection and those people in particular read past the words to their source, my heart.

Granted, the insightful ones are still few and far between, but having even one in my life who understands what I’m not putting into words is a 100% improvement over what came before.

The biggest surprise came when I started letting my hair down both literally and figuratively. People suddenly found a safe place to share their own struggles and challenges. Why did I never realize how honored…how touched I would feel when a friend shared their vulnerabilities with me?

Pain Averted, Opportunities Missed

Hidden behind the walls I’d built so painstakingly, I missed out on a lot of things. Believing for so many years that emotions equaled weakness, I failed to learn things everyone else seems to take for granted. I know it was my misinterpretation of my parents’ actions and behavior. I know that now. But I was so completely convinced that exposing my emotions would make me the weak person I believed my mom to be, and who I refused to emulate. How was I to know that it takes a strong person to allow others to see their soft side, and not the other way around? I made a conscious effort before my 10th birthday to block myself off from the one person who could have taught me what I needed to know.

I watched my mom struggle to be loved and assumed she was too weak to just stand on her own and tell everyone to pound sand. I watched my dad keep all of his emotions inside and at the same time, drink away the pain he never let anyone see. Yet he’s the one I chose to emulate, sans drinking. I have to wonder if he ever allowed himself to be loved; if he ever gave someone his heart.

Taking My First Baby Steps

Now that I’m at least considering trusting again, it’s opened me up to having girl friends. But a relationship beyond friendship with a man is still as frightening as it ever was. So I make excuses. The pickin’s are really slim. Not too many single men looking for a woman my age. 60-year-olds want to date 40-year-olds. I’m telling myself new stories, but keeping the same theme.

It’s funny. One of my newest friends is in her early 40’s. We were talking about how the 60-year-olds want 40-year-olds and she echoed something I said when I was mid-divorce. At the time, I was in my late 30’s and it was the 60-year-olds who made the advances, not the 40-year-olds. I remember thinking at the time, Yuk! He’s as old as my dad! Seems like I’ve completed the circle now, and I’m not exactly happy about it. Because there will always be 40-year-olds who are happy to date the 60-year-olds, few as they might be. Where does that leave us 60-year-olds, even if we don’t look or act our age?

Strengthening Myself Instead of My Defenses

But again, that’s me making excuses because no matter what I might say, I’m still not sure I can trust someone with my heart. In my mind, it’s still far too fragile. Yet, how do you strengthen something? You have to temper it. Muscles need to tear. Blisters become callouses. There will be some pain or discomfort along the way. You just have to decide whether that pain or discomfort is worth it; if being stronger and healthier is worth the cost.

I still find it easier to watch people interacting, calling it research. I still can’t talk to a man I don’t know in a social situation until I’ve convinced myself he’s interested in someone else and will only see me from a non-emotional viewpoint. Only then can I approach him in friendship, feeling that my heart is safe once more.

It seems I’ve answered my own question. I am still not certain I can bare my heart to someone, trusting he won’t take my most precious gift and stomp it into the dust.

But then I ask myself whether I’d survive the experience, and I answer with a resounding Yes! Maybe I’m ready after all?

For All That Came Before and For All That’s Still to Come, I Am Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have breached my walls.
  2. I am grateful for those who are teaching me to let go of old fears.
  3. I am grateful for my girl friends.
  4. I am grateful for a mind that forces me to really look at my self-talk.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, lessons, growing stronger, love, joy, dancing, opportunity, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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