Freedom and fear

I don’t know how to love without the need to possess. Or at least without the desire to possess, to own on some level. I don’t mean in a creepy now-you’re-mine kind of way. If I open myself to you, offer myself to you, there’s a terror involved that you will dismiss the offering. It’s nearly impossible for me to remember that if you choose to hand my offering of affection or friendship or love back to me, it’s about what you need and not a reflection of my worth. If I can’t claim part of you for myself, if there’s no guarantee that the part of me you choose to accept will be well taken care of, I fear we will be forever imbalanced.

Ah, and maybe that’s the heart of it. Love first and always must allow you to remain free, and the opposite of freedom may well be fear. Allowing you the freedom to walk away from me, or to hand my heart back to me after you’ve accepted it, leaves me always afraid that you will do exactly that. Which somehow diminishes me both in the possibility of it happening and the actuality. And I can’t bear to be made any smaller than I already feel I am.

So like a cat I’ll draw close, then bat you away. Offer companionship, then run and hide under the couch. Purr to entice you, then bite your outstretched hand. I’ve learned how to maintain just the right levels of intimacy and coldness to keep everything more or less predictable. If I participate in keeping things off-kilter, then the wavering doesn’t hurt quite so much.

I’ve learned to run, to retreat, to push away when it starts to feel vulnerable. I’ve learned arms-lengthing and to keep things focused on you. Your story, your needs. If I can’t have you, possess some part of you, then you always have the advantage because I give my heart fully. It’s yours to do with as you will. I hand you the power, and punish you for having it. This has been the only way I’ve known to love. Blame it on growing up surrounded by addicts, or a truly spectacular bad streak of luck romantically, or just the generally inordinate number of dysfunctional people who’ve come into my life. I’ve learned I need more guarantees than come, so I create instability in order to keep my own warped equilibrium.

But I want to learn a better way of loving. A love that flourishes in your freedom, and mine. A love that offers self without losing self in the other. Love that’s approached as a barter, not a battle. I don’t want to fear you, or control you, predict you or push you away. I don’t want to draw close just to run away. I want to learn to love fully, freely and without fear. To grow strong in love without hardening.

Thank you for persevering with me through the rough patches of the journey. For loving me through the dark and twisty places. For continuing to stretch out your hand punctured by my claws. You are worth learning the lessons for – thank you for paving the way.

Don’t know where I’m running but I know how to run

‘Cause running’s the thing I’ve always done

I don’t know what I’m doing but I know what I’ve done

I’m a hungry heart, I’m a loaded gun

~ Passenger, 27

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