Letting go has not been one of my strengths in recent years. Allowing myself time and space to feel safe, relaxed and unbound isn’t really part of my current life. It is a skill that I have struggled with all my life. I am responsible. It is my strength, so to speak. I am the oldest daughter and have four younger siblings, from the beginning, I have been wired for responsible. When I was younger, I was better at letting go, having fun and shedding my responsibilities. Since I became a widow and a sole parent, I find letting go even more difficult. It is not only difficult because everything is my job, but because I worry that if I do let go again, if I do trust again, if I find a safe place of respite, it will be ripped away leaving me alone, naked and exposed. I’m not sure if I have it in me to rebuild again. I’m not sure that I can surrender again knowing what I know now.
Feeling safe isn’t about if my home is secure or if I will be attacked on the street. I don’t worry about those things. Feeling safe to me is that place where you go with another person where you are naked and exposed, but loved and cared for at the same time. It is that place where I know that if I give in, surrender, I won’t be left hanging out there alone. It will be a place of respite. It will be a place to collapse at the end of the day, good day or bad, where I am just me and someone cares about that. Sometimes I do worry that I won’t be able to be safe in this way again, because I know in the depths of my being that these things will always end. I really wonder if I will ever find a safe place again where I can truly lie, relaxed and unbound by my responsibilities, and receive care and compassion from someone. I’ve had glimpses of this, but I really don’t know if I’ll ever be able to feel this type of safety again.
What I do know is I’m pretty tired of the “me” show. This is the show where I do everything. I take care of all the elements that keep my life running, keep my kids life running. Now, I know many people, who do this even when they are in a relationship. We do it because we are responsible, we do it because it is who we are, I know it is how I’m wired, but I remember a place where I could do most of this and still take off the “me” mask at the end of the day and there was someone there who would make those responsibilities feel miles away. The “me” show is boring and always a repeat. I don’t mind the work, I never have. I do miss the collaboration. I do miss hearing someone else’s story. I miss the variety. I miss the intimacy. I miss feeling safe, loved, and being able to provide those same things for someone.
When I was younger, I was more open I guess. My life experience hadn’t crept into my bones as deeply as it has now. When Dave died, many pieces of who I was ceased to exist. My youthful naivety was a casualty. When I was younger, I knew heartbreak, but not like I know it now. Becoming a widow, especially at a young age, I fear has aged my soul deeply. It takes this once carefree girl and fills her up with so many responsibilities. The responsibilities that are mine alone often feel like a heavy cloak that I am unable to get out of or put aside. It weighs me down. It won’t come off, even when I try. Even when others try to carry it for me, it is still my cloak. Even when I try to shed it for a moment, there is no one that really wants to stay and help me get it off permanently.
If I do get the cloak off, there I am again, naked and exposed, vulnerable. There I am again opening myself up again to who knows what…
I tell myself that the “who knows what” will be worth it. I tell myself that if I practice taking off the cloak, shedding my responsibilities briefly, feeling a moment of safety will lead me to a place where someday I will feel safe again. I watch as people I know have had heartache as consuming as mine plunge into risk again. They plunge into love with their heart and soul. I tell myself that even in those few moments when I have allowed myself to be vulnerable again, I have felt better and someday I will get there again. I will find the safety, the relaxation, the soul who cares for me deeply. I have to believe and hope that if my heart remains open, intimacy will find me again.
The ultimate truth is there is no guarantee of this. The ultimate truth is that this might be my story. The responsibility to find a place where I am safe and sound is up to me…here comes the “me” show again. The learning to let go and relax again is mine to own. I have to get out of my head and create moments of peace for myself. Finding a safe place and allowing myself to be vulnerable won’t happen if I don’t allow it. Allowing someone to see me naked and exposed is a risk only I can take. Hopefully, my story will find me in a place of balance. Hopefully my story will be to transcend the pain and trust again. Hopefully, my story will find me feeling safe and sound again.