I don’t remember the number of times that my friends warned me not to shut down after it all happened. How many times they’d ask me not to lose myself. To avoid becoming bitter and lonely. To stay open, despite my pain.
“With what you’ve been through you have every right to never trust anyone again” they’d say “but please don’t let this experience change you from being the loving bubbly person that you are – time will heal. Stay open”
Yes, I am very lucky indeed to have such wise and loving friends. I count my blessings and am grateful for such levels of support – particularly during the early days after discovering the truth. At the time I thought they were referring to my ability to trust another romantic relationship. That was ok, because I was always ready with an answer. My well-rehearsed response would be along the lines of “It’s ok, because I know that my feelings were real, even if his were not – and I know for a fact that I experienced true love. So if I felt that with an empty soul, then when one day I find a real person, surely the experience will be ten times better?”
The thing is, though, I have discovered that real love has very little to do with me finding another person. That ‘closing off’ does not just mean closing to the world and people that surround me. That yes, staying open is entirely to do with trusting and loving…. But loving who, exactly? And how…?
Rock And A Hard Place
As for all of us here, I’ve survived some pretty grueling experiences. My personal healing journey after the sociopath involved re-examining some of the old traumas that I thought I’d already dealt with. Re-opening the sealed emotions that were still hidden away, despite my honest belief that there was nothing left to discover. But there was. And to this day, there continues to be more.
There was a time when, to be frank, I was way too scared of going to some of the darker places that lay within me. Because I knew that re-discovery meant opening old scars and digging around in the old hurts. It was going to be painful, and I didn’t know whether I had the courage to go there – to really go there and find out what was within. To deal with ‘whatever it was’ once and for all, so that I could be free and done with it. It was an almighty ask of myself – and there were many times that I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the task I knew lay ahead. I became frightened that if I went to the places that were beckoning me, I might never find my way back out. That I’d die from the pain, or perhaps be held prisoner for the rest of eternity.
On the other hand, I knew that if I didn’t go there, then I was doomed to stay stuck in the living nightmare that had become my life. And that, by comparison, was far too great a hurt to live with. So, caught between a rock and a hard place, I felt pushed to the limit. I had to make a choice. And I made the choice to dive right in, hoping and praying that by facing my fears I would come out the other end.
Having made the commitment I discovered that in actual fact the pain was never ‘too much to bear’ and neither was I held prisoner. Quite the contrary. Looking back now, I imagine the journey as a daily trek in to a dark mine. Each day hollowing out more rock, my body and determination becoming stronger as I continued to work. The job, by default, therefore becoming easier as I continued scraping away, emerging at the end of each day with a filthy face and a dirty great smile.
Reflections And Sunshine
And you know what? I never did reach any impasse. I never did find any really ‘bad’ thing hidden there. But I did find something. Something that I had never in a million years imagined would be hidden there! Because underneath all the dark rocks and dirt, I found a diamond. I found myself.
I said earlier, I had honestly believed that I’d already uncovered and dealt with the emotional damage of my past. Because of that I believed that there was nothing left to discover. On top of that, I now realize that I had believed for many years that even if there was any discovering left to be done, it could only possibly be more of the ‘bad stuff’ that I’d hidden away so many years earlier. It didn’t even occur to me that there might be good stuff to discover – DOH! And now I am thoroughly reveling in finding new stuff within – because I’ve finally tapped in to the real love that lies within me. And ever since the first tentative connection was made, it has continued to build. On a daily basis I am finding more ways to love and appreciate myself for who I am – yep, I’ve lived with ‘me’ for close to five decades, but it feels like I’ve only recently started to know myself.
I am constantly chuckling at the reflections of this process of unfolding that are now occurring on nearly a daily basis. Just at the weekend, for example, I noticed a stone building by the river on a route that I’ve taken countless times over the nine years I have lived in my village. But I had never before taken any notice of the building. On Sunday I not only saw it, I went to explore. There I discovered the most beautiful ‘lavoir’ (a covered area where the locals used to do their washing in years gone by) that had clearly been standing there for many lifetimes. There it was, an exquisite example of beauty and history right on my doorstep. Yet for so long it had simply been invisible to me.
As for my fear of becoming captive to the strength of the pain within? I now realize that I have been living my life as a prisoner for longer than I care to remember. The journey to cleanse my memories, my emotions, and my soul has ultimately proven to be my salvation.
So, for the journey, and for the real love that I am now feeling, I am once again inclined to thank my ex-husband, and all those who have done me harm over the years. I can’t begin to understand their intentions when they were being so cruel, but it doesn’t matter any more. What they did doesn’t matter any more either. Because whether it was intended or not, and whether because or in spite of their actions towards me, I have managed to find myself and re-connect to real love. The real love that was and always has been deep within me.
It turns out that it was not the ‘bad stuff’ I was afraid of – it was the love. Not the darkness, but the light. Through diving in and facing my deepest fears, I have discovered the truth that it was no-one and no-thing that had been holding the real love back from me. In actual fact I had become my own jail-keeper. I had been holding myself prisoner over so many years. Even through years of forgiveness and self-development work, I had still been hiding my light under a bushel. It was me who’d denied myself the love and the light. I was the one who had closed myself off.
So, since I was the one who had locked the door I was also the one who could open it and let in the sunshine. And as I continue to let the sunshine in, the sunshine continues to grow within me. And as the light grows within me, so my life fills with more and more love.
It was here all along. It always has been. I just didn’t know it. But now I do know it – and I also know that others share the same light. Like me, though, many are yet to discover their own brilliance. It’s there. And I’m here as living testimony that, no matter how impossible it may seem at times, there is indeed real love after the pain.
With deepest love to all. Thank you.