One step forward, two steps sideways.
My therapist bummed me out today. Big time.
See, in my last serious relationship (which lasted 7 years), I spent most of that time silencing myself for a variety of reasons: fear, self-doubt, a belief that if I wasn’t perfect I’d be unlovable. I was scared to state my truth and to use my voice. Over time, the fact that I wasn’t asking for what I needed became normal.
Until it wasn’t. Until I cracked. Until I blew it all up and said, “I cannot do this anymore.”
That wasn’t the only issue, but it was a big one.
And it was unfair to me and to my ex. Because I never really gave my ex a chance to step up and meet my needs. I assumed he couldn’t or wouldn’t meet them. I’d try here or there, but out of practice and terrified, I’m sure I made it a loaded conversation before ever opening my mouth.
I set myself up to fail. My belief that I wasn’t worthy became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, for the past year, my therapist and I have been unpacking that and digging in. I’ve rolled around in all of the yucky stuff that feels like crap, and come out fighting.
I put my life adventure on hold during those seven years, and it felt like I was dying inside.
I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the past 12 months – many lovers, and even more fleeting connections. I’ve been practicing my truth, using my voice, putting myself out there, and I attack each day from a place of total vulnerability.
Have I gotten hurt along the way? You bet I have. In the worst imaginable ways.
But I’ve also seen myself grow by leaps and bounds. I’ve watched myself become someone entirely new – someone who lives in the fear on purpose because that’s where the good stuff happens. That’s where passion resides. That’s where desire lives. That’s how dreams come true.
Each day, I think, “How can I love and live as boldly as possible while also being gentle with myself as I go?”
Truth be told, I’m the worst at being gentle with myself. But that will come with time.
Just when I thought I was getting good at this relationship stuff
Over the past few months, I’ve developed a beautifully deep connection with a special someone. This man is polyamorous, a sex educator, a feminist, a switch, kinky and fun and open and brave.
This, whatever this is between us, feels good. Really good.
So good that last week he said, “Dawn… I love you.” And I said it back because my heart is overflowing with love for this man. Not the Hollywood, romance novel version that promises happily ever after, but a love that is two souls recognizing the beauty in each other and hoping for the best. Two people intentionally creating space in their lives for each other to see where this goes.
Today, my therapist said she doesn’t think I’m ready.
Not ready for what?
A serious relationship, and especially a polyamorous one. She said the likelihood that I’d get hurt is high. She said she doesn’t think I’ve learned and absorbed the lessons that I need to learn.
We argued. I pushed back. I told her she was being too hard on me, and she said that was her job: to hold me accountable and to push me. She also said she doesn’t want to see me get hurt.
I left the session feeling frustrated and disappointed. Was I so bad off that I wasn’t ready for love?
When I got home, my first instinct was to nuke all of my romantic relationships and hibernate, to spare them the mess that I am. Sure, it’s a tad dramatic, but that’s how I roll.
Am I ready? Can I do this? What if I can’t? What if my radical change hasn’t been radical enough? What if, what if, what if, what if…
My best friend and I talked it out. She explained that it’s my therapist’s job to be conservative, to pull on the reigns, to keep me inside of a framework because that makes life safe and predictable and clean.
But I don’t want safe and predictable and clean.
This is LIFE. I want messy and rowdy and bold and bright and vivid and deep and wild. I want memories that last a lifetime. I want no regrets, even if I get my heart broken over and over and over again. At least I will have tried.
I started reflecting on all of the conversations my lover and I have had where I’d been brave and said my truth. It was happening. Change.
Am I good at it? No. Is it easy? Hell no. Do I know what I need half the time? Not even close.
And that’s when I realized it.
I might not be very good at a lot of things, but I’m good at showing up, I’m great at being vulnerable and having courage, and I want to create space for love in all its manifestations.
But even more importantly, my lover is incredible at these things. He is a master communicator. He wants me to blossom into this woman I am becoming. He sees my journey as sacred and daring and beautiful. He knows I’m not perfect, and he loves me anyway.
He elevates me.
Isn’t that powerful?
He elevates me from where I am to where I could be. He gives me space to grow into the person I want to become, and he helps show me the way.
The truth of the matter is we will never be perfect. We will never have healed all of the scars or closed up all the wounds. We will never know all of the answers or understand all of our motivation. We will always have baggage.
But when you find someone who sees your baggage as potential and who lends you strength when you need it most, you become something extraordinary together. And in my own way, I hope, I elevate him – either with love or strength or support or passion.
I refuse to put my life on hold until I have it all figured out because dammit, that won’t ever happen.
When I consciously choose to grow, and when I show up with an open heart and a willing mind, courageous change happens. Failure, too, but failure is where the lessons exist. The key is finding someone who wants to fail with you, as a team, so that the both of you get stronger and more powerful.
I love this man. I love other men, too. That’s what it means to be polyamorous.
Our future together might be a few weeks or a few decades. The length matters less than the depth we are embodying.
Life doesn’t have a manual. There isn’t a step-by-step guide if you want to create something magnificently yours.
So do it.
Stop waiting. Don’t let people hold you back.
Take the leap. Face the fear. And realize that if you fall, if you fail, if you get hurt, it’s all part of this glorious, beautiful story that is your life.
What have you been holding back? What have you been stopping yourself from doing until “you’re ready”? Share in the comments below. Let’s create a courage train and challenge each other to make magic happen.