To love is to risk being hurt by the one you love.
If you are guarding your feelings, you are not expressing love. If you are hiding the whole truth, that is not love. Fear does not exist alongside love. If you fear losing the relationship, that is not love. That’s fear. Love risks losing because love wants the best, even if the best is allowing the other to leave.
You can’t fully love from an emotional distance, just like you can’t carry someone from a fire without touching them. Love requires close proximity and the risk of contamination.
The task then is either to distinguish between sustainable love and unsustainable love, or have your fire of love extinguished. It is easier than you think. You must only honestly evaluate the results for YOU. Are you being molded and purified by this fire of love, or are you being enraged and consumed? After interactions, are you empowered to heal others, or do you just want to curl up and cry?
A Call to Stop Loving
Brokenness can be healed. But, you can’t be healed if you continue in the pattern that breaks you. Time and again, this relationship rips, cracks, separates, and damages. You love. You know because you risk. But, at some point, you have to stop loving–stop risking. Some relationships are just not healthy. That is, they do not offer you value and consistent return. What is worse, being hurt in these relationships is not a risk. It is a certainty.
Staying in such a relationship ensures that you will be hurt. In an attempt to help yourself, you will practice guardedness and lack of trust. The result is that you never fully risk again…with anyone. Even if the other is healthy and loving, you can no longer love fully and unconditionally. You can’t love because you can’t risk.
You will always expect the let down. You will always seek to block the blow. Your actions will push people away and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more barriers and protections you put up, the less likely that others will risk with you. You then perceive their hesitance as proof that they will hurt you.
The cycle serves to isolate you from new, more healthy relationships. You return again to the familiar hurt. You continue to practice guardedness. You ensure that your brokenness can never heal.
Stop. Stop trying to prove that you are worthy of love. Stop thinking that being the better person means putting yourself in harm’s way. Stop laying yourself down as a doormat and wondering why you are stepped on.
Break the cycle. Be open to unconditional love. Allow consistent caring to heal you.
Releasing You From Obligation
I am not a fan of how I learned it, but my childhood taught me that it is my responsibility to judge what influences I allow to shape my life. More than just guarding against peer pressure, I learned to resist obligation. Obligations to be polite, to do what others are doing, to give money to people on the street, to engage because of relationship–I was taught that these are useless without intentional thought. I believe it is a lesson that will serve you.
The hardest obligation to resist is an obligation to anyone you love. This is especially true when the other is family. But, when they willfully and consistently damage you, when they oppress your love and respect for yourself, when the darken your vision of a better life, you have to limit your exposure to them. Obligating yourself to be around them only causes you to practice isolation. It is certain that you will walk away hurt. Realize that you will also walk away less able to love.
What you are participating in is not love. It is obligation. Look at your reasons for attending or staying involved. None of the reasons have anything to do with you and your success. They all sound like, “I can’t…” And “It’s not…” And “If I don’t…” Stop making excuses for those that hurt you. Wake up to realize that what you lose is what YOU COULD BE as you excuse what they are not. You begin to focus on what others are NOT DOING for you rather than realizing how you isolate yourself in actions and words. You act BROKEN when you could be whole.
Do you see the negatives inherent in these justifications? I plead with you. Make the choice to heal. Spend more time with love. Leave obligation behind. Distinguish the fire between sustainable love and unsustainable love. If not, you risk extinguishing the fire, and never being able to fully feel the purity of true love.