I’ve been pulling daily tarot cards lately so I can be mindful of where my soul is at. And yesterday I pulled a card that perplexed me. The card was John Holland’s “Trapped in Fear” card, otherwise known as the 8 of swords in traditional tarot. And my first reaction was, “I’m not scared!” And then I had a dream last night that validated this card. Cementing for me, in the wee hours of this morning, the fact that, oh damn, I’m scared to fall in love again. Not just scared, but petrified.
First, let me tell you about the dream. It’s super hazy at this point, and was even hazy when I woke up at 5am. But from what I can recall, I was with a man and we were super into each other. In the dream it felt so good and nourishing. And we were in bed, just kind of snuggling and hanging out. Then, all of a sudden, he essentially kicked me out. I don’t remember what he said exactly, but he was so disgusted with me and just wanted me gone. And in the dream, I remember that I was so shocked and so devastated that I couldn’t even speak. I was opening my mouth and nothing was coming out. And the flood of emotions was so deep I could barely feel anything at all.
When I woke up and processed this, of course all of these emotions reminded me of my breakup (approaching 9 months since he left). And even though I’ve been doing so much grieving and so much processing, I think there’s a part of me that’s forgotten how so completely fucked up and abrupt this breakup was for me. And he was so cruel to me. Two days before we were our usual selves, snuggling, playing games, and he had even left me a sweet love note for no reason. And then boom, “I don’t want to marry you,” “I wouldn’t care if you slept with other guys,” “I’ve been happier with other women than I have been with you,” and the best one, “You’re not intellectually challenging enough for me.”
This was all coming from my love. My beloved person who I felt so tender towards, and who I thought felt so tender towards me. And absolutely nothing can prepare anyone for that kind of blow. I admit it’s totally possible that I could have been completely delusional about the relationship. But honestly, I think I was reading the room pretty well. Ok yes, he would freak out when we would have talks about getting married. But he treated me with a lot of love and affection, and repeatedly told me he wanted to build a life with me. We lived together, so it’s not like he wasn’t taking steps to show me that. I know I didn’t imagine these things.
If you want to read the full story about my breakup, you can check out “I Lost My Dream Life 12 Days Before Christmas.”
MY HALF-ASSED ATTEMPTS AT DATING
I really did get back on the dating train with whole-hearted earnestness after a good few months of solid grieving. And I really thought I was ready. But then I had a few dates that didn’t go very well. I didn’t like them very much and it made me miss my ex. Or, more recently, I REALLY liked someone, but they just weren’t ready to date anyone seriously.
But if I’m being really honest, I think I’m scared to fall in love again. And that fear is leading me to choose the wrong kind of people.
In reality, dating for me has been a bit like going through the motions. As if I’m pushing food around my plate just to create an illusion of hunger. But I don’t actually have any intention of fucking eating anything. Because I still feel kind of sick to my stomach.
MY FEAR RUNS DEEP
This morning when I was processing my dream, I also had a flash from childhood. For a brief time, my mother dated a man named Jim. We called him Jim 2 because her boyfriend from years before was the OG Jim. Both Jims were always very kind. Anyway, one day, we came over to my mother’s house and she was drunk, after not having any alcohol for months. In those days, before we knew how completely tragic her addiction was, every time she was sober for a few months, we would think, “Maybe this time she’ll stay sober.”
I remember I started crying on the couch when I saw my drunk mother. And my mother was crying as well. I thought it was because she felt sad that she had let us down with her drinking. Until she said, “Jim left me.” And even though Jim was a nice man, I couldn’t have given two fucks that he was gone. I was just upset that my mom was drunk again.
Reflecting on this flash, I was humbled by the thought that there’s always more healing to do. And that’s okay. It’s okay that I’m still fucked up from the repeated letdowns of my childhood. And the repeated, disappointing shocks to my system. Shocks of letdowns, abandonments, loveless behavior, and overall pain.
Read more from my new series, “The Story Of My Mother.”
Mom 25, mixed media on paper, 2003 @ Libby Saylor
Yeah, I think it’s okay to admit that I’m scared to fall in love again. How could I not be?
I’m worried that if and when I do fall in love again, and when that lucky fellow tells me he loves me, how could I not think, “Well yeah, maybe today, but will you love me tomorrow?”
I don’t think there’s much I can do about my fears except notice them and treat them with loving care. Judging myself for these feelings won’t help, and gentleness is now called for.
Also, I think about how so deeply excited I was to be in love with my ex, and how attached I was to the idea of living happily ever after. Maybe that was okay, but maybe it was a bit much. And for this next time around, perhaps I can be open to a new way of loving someone. Maybe I can try to find a new way of being in love, where I can be open to loss, and know that nothing lasts forever. People die early deaths, and fall out of love, and change. Yet keeping my heart closed is just not an option for me. That doesn’t interest me in the least. And even though I’m scared to fall in love again, I’m going to. Because I want to.
Have you ever been scared to fall in love? And have you ever had shocking disappointments in love or other areas of your life? How did you move through the grief? I would love to hear your stories! xo
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Featured photo by Cole Wyland on Unsplash
Leaves photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash