I am 18 yrs old. It is 1977. I am standing on the front lawn at a home in suburban New Jersey.
I say to a person I deeply love, “I can never see you again.”
He freaks out and begins to cry. I repeat with a stone cold face, “I can never see you again.”
No explanation. No long story. Just “I can never see you again.”
I walk away to my car in complete shock. I leave him standing there, also in a state of complete shock.
This is something that I have never forgiven myself for, even at 57 yrs old. My dear Mother, out of the goodness of her heart, thought this was the path to supporting me with my painful process of coming out. I so do not mean to make my Mother wrong in ANY way – truly. In 1977, this was her best attempt at supporting her kid, who was grappling with being gay in a world that was grabbling with the topic as a whole.
I share this story, because I have come to realize that this was a defining moment of my relationship with “things that I love.” It is very hard to admit this publicly, yet I have come to learn that when I start to fall “in love” with something or someone or anything that brings me aliveness, joy and a sense of well-being, I start to doubt it and not let myself “love it.”
Since I was 18, I have moved away (literally) from things that I love. I have left relationships because I love them too much. I have not bought certain cars because I am not allowed to love that car too much. And I have done damage to intimate relationships because I am not allowed to experience that much love – ever!
For so many years of my life, as I started to love something deeply, anxiety has set in.
It has taken me years to unwind this pattern (thank you to my amazing therapist/coach/mentor) to realize how this has cost me deep experiences of intimacy and JOY. It truly takes courage to deeply love what you love. In my case, when I loved, I was told, “You’re not allowed to love that.”
I do my best inner work everyday to no longer be run by that voice that says, “you are not allowed to love that.” Instead, when my anxiety sets in, and I lean in and get closer to the thing that I love and simply say, “I love you,” whether it be a person, a thing, a car, a meal, a cocktail, an experience, etc.
What is your relationship to “love?” Do you let yourself truly love just because, or do you back away for fear of “you’re not allowed” or “you’re not worthy of it?”
Whatever your answer, be with it, explore it, cry about it, laugh about it, talk about it. The path to pure joy is to allow ourselves to truly love what we love – just because.
Back to my New Jersey friend… I publicly apologize to you. I am so sorry it went the way it did. I never meant to hurt you. There is no excuse other than I did not know what I did not know at the time. May you forgive me as I forgive myself!
What do you love? Who do you love? Do you let yourself love just because?
PS – And the “great story” does move forward! My amazing partner Chuck and I have now been together for over 24 years – so incredibly blessed…
…AND, that’s another blog post!