Guarding Your Heart: The Story of a Princess Who Built Herself a Fortress
Today’s blog is brought to you by my friend, ‘Stacy Beckwith’. Stacy is using a pseudonym because the content of this blog is highly personal. She chose to remain anonymous to protect the feelings of some of the key players in her life, and I totally understand. I admire her integrity. Bloggers walk a fine line between sharing and over-sharing. Stacy and I first ‘met’ when she commented on one of my Huffington Post articles. She friended me on Facebook, and we began to develop a friendship based on shared experiences – especially about past relationships and our personal growth in that arena. Over the weekend, our private Facebook conversation was the catalyst to an epiphany about her relationship history and her inability to fall in love. Her experience was so profound, I asked her to share it with you. I think many of you will find yourselves in Stacy’s experience. I look forward to your comments.
Princess Built Herself a Fortress
by Stacy Beckwith
I have never been in love. There, I have said it. I was married for almost 20 years and have been part of two, very serious, post-divorce relationships. I truly loved those men as people, enjoyed their company, and had lots of fun. But no, I did not romantically love them, even though I told them I did. I thought I was staying for security and my deep fear of being alone. But then, my friend Sandy Weiner shared her TEDx talk (about turning into a Tootsie Pop and guarding your heart in relationships so you won’t get hurt). I came to realize it was actually something very different. I was with these men because I was never going to love them, and if I didn’t fall in love with them, they could never hurt me. My heart was perfectly protected in this fortress where there was no chance for love so no chance for pain …and I was utterly miserable.
As each relationship ended I was devastated I had allowed myself to stay when I was not in love. And then I vowed to really fall in love the next time. But rather than follow that plan, I walked into the next one knowing I would never love him either. I was living in a cycle of “I would rather build a relationship than a wall. Can you pass me another brick?”― Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title.
When my last significant relationship ended, I knew I really needed to change. Next time around I was going to get it right. Look around and find a guy I could actually fall in love with and then love him with great abandon. I put my integrity in double check and vowed to mean what I say and say what I mean with those three little magic words.
And I promised to sit in the seat of vulnerability and accept the risk of being hurt.
I put myself out there and went on many many dates. And then it happened, I walked into a bar on a Wednesday night in early July to meet another online dating victim, took one look in his eyes and thought “oh crap, this guy is the real deal.’ It wasn’t love at first sight, but there was a stirring, and I was scared to death. Online dating profiles were down within a week.
And as we have marched through these early dating days together, I have caught myself putting timeframes around moving forward, like “there is no way I can love him until 3 months have passed. Don’t get too attached, it is too soon. What if my feelings are not reciprocated? My friends need to approve him.” I’ve been looking for red flags, scrutinizing his every move, spending way too much time thinking.
Princess has been building herself a different kind of fortress to house her heart. This one is filled with challenges and obstacles for the relationship to jump through before deemed worthy to receive the keys to the inner sanctuary. A moat to swim, dragons to slay, walls to scale. All done in the name of moving slowly, not rushing, not getting hurt. All ensuring I am not dating a Trojan Horse who is going to gain entrance and then unleash fury. Not feeling, just evaluating.
But in reality, you cannot intellectualize love and felt connection…the truth here is that I am falling, my heart is winning over my head. Rather than test the relationship to gain passage the door is naturally starting to lower over the moat. My heart is ready to burst out. It is easy; he is everything that I want in a partner. A center core of integrity, a fantastic father, we have matched energy, trust has been firmly established, safety is felt. It is time to stop construction, stop protecting, and start to really live this gift I have been given.
Maybe it is time to put the fortress on the market, and instead move into a nice four bedroom colonial in suburbia with big open windows for this to breathe and a front door with two sets of keys – hey, wait a minute….we are house shopping?!?! Isn’t it too soon??
Have you ever felt like Stacy? Have you guarded yourself from the possible pain of heartbreak, afraid to let go and let love in? Please share your comments below.