Love is letting go of fear
Today is Don Day.
It’s been a rough few weeks, working though the pros and cons of staying in the friendship, of really giving it a good go. Mostly, I’ve been focused on whether my needs are being met in a healthy way. My emotional needs, my need for authentic and broad connection, and my need to truly experience the full truth of who he is.
Don is as authentic as the come, but I’m confused on whether I can adapt to his limitations. Which aren’t really limitations at all, just Don being his Asperger self, Don.
But my limitations aren’t limitations either. They’re needs. They’re human needs that are an integral part of my needs as the unique human being I am. Should I compromise on my needs? Well, I know the answer to that. Yes. Sometimes. In part. But I prefer the term “collaborate”.
Compromise indicates one person has to give up something of value, defer or completely quash a need for something they believe is significant and necessary. And that’s not sustainable. Resentment builds. Resentment kills intimacy. Doubt proliferates. Self-esteem plummets.
When two people collaborate, when they are both equally committed to building the friendship, they find a way to ensure both of their needs are met in a healthy way. It’s not about putting another’s needs before your own. It’s about ensuring that one person’s needs aren’t treated as more important than the others. And that involves taking care of yourself first.
I don’t really know how to take care of myself first. I’m learning. And I’m learning quickly, and it’s making a huge difference. Once I got hold of the fact I am not defined by my flaws and shortcomings, that I am enough, just as I am – that I am my own perfect imperfect Coco at every moment, self-love flooded in. It was quite unexpected.
I’d come to believe I’d always hate myself, always engage in self-sabotaging behaviors, and had accepted it would never get better and I simply needed to focus and stay on track with not giving into suicide. Just push through to the end. Persevere.
The notion I'd never feel good again was an ugly lie I constructed for myself and drummed into my daily existence as if my life depended upon it. Because I believed it did. At the same time, I knew there is always hope. Which I say time and again, only part of the time holding fast to that truth. But there is always Hope.
I now believe the worst is behind me. Not because bad things will not continue to plague me, and not because I’ve found a way to conquer suffering, but because I’ve been through the worst of it, come out the other side, and I am convinced I can survive anything that comes my way.
A long long time ago, when I was in my 20s, I read a book called Love is Letting go of Fear. I’ve always had a copy on my bookshelf. I’ve given it away many times, then replaced it. It is the book that taught me I had the choice to make all decisions from a place of love or a place of fear.
I continue to live in fear a great deal of the time. I worry about the future, I ruminate over past mistakes. I worry I will be hurt, not just by friends and lovers, but by family, and others that have control over aspects of my life. I know, every moment I know, it is a waste of precious time to live in fear. And it causes suffering, untold suffering.
Living in fear also manifests in an unrelenting desire to control. And control is an illusion. The only thing we have control over is our response to any situation – whether internal or external. We can’t control events, and we certainly can’t control people.
And yet, even now, thirty plus years since reading that book for the first time and grasping the notion I always have the option to live and act from a place of love, I still haven’t mastered the skill. I’ve gotten better, and now the Truth of it stays present in my mind always. But it’s a hard-learned, hard-earned skill.
I realize with Don I have two choices. I can continue to live in fear of experiencing tremendous emotional pain and eventual loss. It is an uncomfortable way to live, and last night reading through the book, I realize completely unnecessary.
I’ve created a false construct that plays out in my mind like a very sad movie with a very sad ending. And I replay that movie often. How very foolish of me. No one knows the future.
This could be my Great Love. At this moment, I’m doubtful. At this moment, I know this will be a great friendship, one that is rewarding, enduring, and mutually fulfilling. But no one knows the future.
Do I need to be concerned with finding and experiencing my one more Great Love? The one I so badly want before this lifetime ends? No, not in the least. My concern, my need to control, to somehow manufacture a set of circumstances that ensure I find a Great Love just once more, that is not going to change anything. My one more Great Love will either happen or it won’t. No one knows the future. And isn’t that a blessing.
What I want to do, plan to do, will do, is act from a place of Love. I will choose, have chosen, to just be and let my friendship with Don just be.
Will I continue to be frustrated by his limitations, which aren’t really limitations at all, simply areas where we are vastly different? Will I release my need to control, release my fear of suffering, and just live each moment of the friendship for the Truth of what that moment gifts me?
I made a conscious choice to live the latter. I don’t need to control anything. I’ve made something very simple very complex without reason. It’s not a given the past will repeat. No one knows the future
I haven’t control over Don or how this relationship plays out. But I can and will simply let it play out. As it will. As the Universe intends. I surrender to these Truths. With some resentment, with some rebelliousness in my soul, but knowing it is what is good and best and right, and the approach that will move me closer to the woman I want to be.
I had this conversation with Jeff, a Great Love, coming up on five years ago now. And still, I wrestle with this. But I remember what Jeff told me, and in each and every relationship since, I push this Truth a bit further to the forefront.
December 2017 Email Exchange with Jeff
I am freaking out. I’m so sad. I’m lost without a man. I’m lost with a man. I’m just lost. I’m so confused. Just tell me I’m going to be OK, OK? It has real solid significance when I hear it from you. My best online friend.
I don’t ask unless I really need to.
I love you so so much,
You are going to be fine take deep breaths and think of unicorns
Play it out
This is about the best dating advice I’ve ever gotten. “Play it out.” Not kidding. Not being facetious.
I’ll probably email you 100 times today because I’m feeling extremely insecure extraordinarily insecure. More insecure than I usually feel which is very insecure.
But like I always say, you know where the delete key is.
I love you MORE,
Such simple advice Jeff had for me, with his usual lighthearted smartass statement right in the middle of all the seriousness. “Take deep breaths and think of unicorns”. He was silly. But he was right.
“Think of unicorns” is a very effective way to reset perspective and get re-rooted in a more grounded mind set. Think of happy things. Happy things change your focus, change your perspective. They make it easy to act out of Love, let go of fear, and let go of the need to control.
I’ve made my choice. I choose to act out of Love. I made that choice a long long time ago. Now I just need to choose to act out of Love more often and more consistently.
I can do this. I am doing this.
I Persevere. And life goes on.
[Initial publication: 7/3/2022.]