I sought buckets of approval from people I didn’t know.
I couldn’t understand what was wrong with expressing love, or why these “people” were uncomfortable. I assumed it was because my love-drenched expression didn’t match the image I was supposed to project as a “proper” southern woman. I looked at it as another part of myself that needed to be cut away, or re-worked into something palatable.
I repressed so much of my behavior that I had little idea of who I was in love. In my twenties, I didn’t know how to be touched, what I liked, and certainly didn’t know how to communicate it.
It was easier for me to hang back and let the person I was interested in make the decisions, lead the way because in following, I didn’t have to put myself out there, didn’t have to feel rejection. I said “yes” when I wanted to say “no” to appease him, thinking that if I just gave him everything he wanted that would make everything easier.
I have painted what‘s in front of me with projections of my younger self’s messages about how to proceed as a woman; always keeping my feelings hidden, and my body under control. I learned that I couldn’t be trusted and was to listen to her, the more experienced one for instruction, because she “knew so much more” than I did. I was then to proceed, sparkly as ever, with extreme caution lest I offended or scared him off.
I am not meant for everyone and everyone is not meant for me. Some people have liked me better as half of a human. A few liked the idea of me but had no interest in getting to know the person I was. The sustainable ones want it all. They don’t mind my intensity, emotions, or my loud energy.
In order to move through the incorrect messages I received growing up, I practice being publicly affectionate with my current love. I notice and acknowledge the fear that comes up and as best as I can, let that shit go.
I acknowledge the fear and what it wants which is protection. It doesn’t want me to feel hurt while exposing so much of myself.
I say what I need, what I mean and what I want even if he may want something different. I practice releasing the desire to control outcomes and let the time we spend together unfold the way it should without get my hands in it and stirring it all up.
Navigating my feelings is easier when I’m not stuffing, ignoring, or covering them with a blanket of anxiety, a habit I fall back on to feel “separate” from people I get involved with. There is so much freedom in giving zero fucks about what anyone thinks about how I choose to express myself.
Connection is what I’ve been after this whole time. It’s elusive when I’m hiding, or giving half-truths because I fear the recipient’s response. The more authentic I am, the more like-minded people I attract, the more the things, and people that do not serve me fall away.
The relief of being seen and loved for who I am is worth the work it takes to show up.