How to Love Fearlessly

marriage, love, fighting, divorce, separation, relationships, love, families, fear of abandonment, insecurity, commitment

Do you feel secure in your relationship?

“You’ve got to stop threatening that you’re going to leave,” he said. I chewed on my bottom lip, meeting his gaze.

“Even the doctor (his therapist) says that’s not good,” he finished. I nodded, but just barely.

Inside, deep down, I knew he was right. This is my husband, for God’s sake. I chose him. We exchanged vows. And most importantly, I love him. I want to be with him. I love our life. I love our baby girl. I love the way he has cultivated a friendship with my son. I know he is right on this point. And yet, why inside do I find it so difficult to concede?

Part of me feels like having one foot out the door is the only true power I hold in this relationship. I know that is fucked up. I get it. That is not the loving environment I want my children to grow up in. And yet, still, there is something in me that feels like he is going to hurt me so the only way I can maintain any sense of leverage is to keep something slightly outside … a big toe, a piece of my shoe, a corner of my heart—something.

Inside, this feels gross. It feels slimy. It feels raunchy like fake diamond earrings or plastic red Lee-press-on nails. It just feels wrong.

Unable to get to the bottom of this instantaneously, unable to look him in the eye and acquiesce to his request, I proceed. I go on about my day. I get on my mat. I practice. I teach. I drive four hours round trip alone and I teach some more. During the drive along the endless grey stretch of highway, I feel around inside for that piece of me that is just not clicking properly on this level. Where does this originate? And how do I shed it?

♦◊♦

We go out on date night. I have to drag him. I arrange the sitter, find the band to see, drive —everything. He is rebelling on this through and through. He has worn his around the house wardrobe even though I’ve dressed up cute and done my hair and makeup. This is his way of showing me that he is not into it. We proceed. Eventually, the shells start to slip away. Eventually, he slips his arm around my waist. When the band is done, we walk arm in arm to the car. There he is. Here is my husband. He’s come back to me.

♦◊♦

Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, says, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.”

I believe this is what I’m doing. I’m foreboding joy. I’m worried that somewhere in this relationship, my husband is going to wake up and decide I’m a wretched soul that he no longer wants to be with. And then, he is going to leave me. So, I am attempting to beat vulnerability to the punch by sabotaging my own relationship with vile, empty threats. This is not the person I want to be.

♦◊♦

Last night, I hopped up on the kitchen island and I drew him to me.

 “I’m never going to leave you,” I said as I looked into his eyes. “You’re a wonderful father. You’re my best friend. You’re an incredible stepfather. You’re the love of my life. You deserve better than my fear. You deserve my love. I love you. I promise, I will not threaten to leave you again.”

My husband is a big, strong man. He was crying. I wiped his tears from his cheeks. We hugged. We kissed. And we proceeded to have an incredible, connected evening.

 All toes are firmly inside the door, as are the corners of my heart and the pieces of my shoe. I have laid down my arms. We’re here now. Let’s get busy living. This is where we are. Home.

 

Read more Advice & Confessions.

Image credit: kevin dooley/Flickr

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About Rebecca Butler

Rebecca Butler lives in Fort Worth, TX. Here, she fancies herself in a community that is at the genesis of change. By day, she is a self-proclaimed-intensity-junkie yoga teacher, serving as the lead teacher at a local donation based studio known as Karmany Yoga, a mother, and a wife… By night {when the house sleeps}, she is a writer, a dreamer and a poet. Her most meaningful moments are sometimes spent pushing a stroller, listening to her latest muse {from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer to Caroline Myss} and picking up after her 90 lb silver lab puppy named Gunner. Her mother passed from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in early 2012. Through this journey, Rebecca learned more about life, love and laughter than any book could have possibly taught her. It is in her memory that Rebecca chooses to live each day in Joy… Joy for life – the ups and downs, breaks and bruises and the glory. Oh, the glory. She has been published on MindBodyGreen, RecoveringYogi, Yoganonymous, and Intent.com. You can find out more about her teaching & writing at www.rebeccabutleryoga.com, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter at @Rbutleryoga.

Comments

  1. Beautiful, Rebecca. “Be the change” came to mind as I read this. We all must BE what we each need in our lives…and that is scary sometimes. Hard. Damn hard.

  2. That’s a really beautiful article. Sometimes we do hold onto ‘another option’.

  3. I know this story all too well. I also have a blended family. I have a stepson who’s 22 and a daughter of my own who’s 6. These situations can be VERY challenging. I’m so very proud of you for what you did. This took tremendous courage. Some day I need to tell you my story. You will be able to relate to it I’m sure.

  4. PursuitAce says:

    Beautifully written and beautifully done…
    Keep fearless at the forefront…

  5. Thank you for sharing :)
    Knowing there are women like you out there gives hope to this lonely single man.

  6. I was reading a different article here on GoodMen Project, and it was on PTSD. As I got to the end of that article I found myself depressed by it. I needed a pick-me-up and saw the icon with THIS article’s name on it and clicked. I have to say this was so well written and so on the money! I have been in the place your husband found himself in when you two went on the date. I know that rebellion so well…

    I applaud you for making the choice to be vulnerable. I know that when I’ve done that, it’s like a cataract is removed from my vision and I’ve been able to see the other for who she really is. It’s like the moment in the film, “The Matrix” when Neo can see the world as “code” and not be fooled by all the outward appearance. Even though my relationships did not end in us being together, I hold onto those moments of vulnerability. There is a woman I am getting to know and we both have our baggage. The more I allow her to see me for who I am, stripped of everything, the closer I feel to her and she to me. I have lots of hope for us…despite being thousands of miles apart geographically. Thank you Rebecca.

  7. Cajunmick says:

    Ms. Butler:
    I share your feelings about having one toe out the door. I didn’t realize this till very recently. I am romantic by nature, and I’m not a cheater. I’ve always been faithful to those I’ve committed myself to.
    Still, I’ve come to understand that what my deal is:
    a. I’ve made poor choices in the past re. my partners.
    b. I don’t trust. I don’t trust, really, anyone, but my child.* I don’t believe that anyone will be there for me in the long run. They leave you- by choice, by divorce, or by death. I’ve experienced all three.
    So, I always hold a part of myself back, waiting for the inevitable. I don’t feel sorry for myself; this is just an issue to be addressed.
    Y’all be well.
    P.S. *My child. I’ve been very conscious, as a father, not to place any such burdens on my child. I’ve seen other parents use their child as a surrogate (emotional) partner. It’s a terrible burden to the child, and I swore I would never do that my child.

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