From Our Readers
July 22, 2014 3:16 pm

I feel like I owe a lot of people an apology. Not because I’ve done something that I should feel bad about, but I’ve definitely been in the midst of a personal transition (again) and have been sort of pulling my dear old (and new!) friends along for the ride. So I guess if you’ve been caught in the crossfires of my post-heartbreak self-exploration (meaning, you have to listen to me gab about it incessantly, not that I went on a bender and punched your dog), I’m sorry. That being said, this seems to be the time and place to let the last few weeks of discovery culminate and attempt to stop the metamorphosis and just get my damn wings already.

For me, the pain I’ve experienced very much centers on romantic relationships (yeah, I know, typical). I’ve really only had very bad experiences, some of the worst a person can imagine and not at all unsurprisingly, that stuff sticks with you. But just because no boy’s ever loved me doesn’t mean it will never happen. My arm’s never been broken either and yet it’s always possible. It only has to happen once. I don’t know if the details of my really bad experiences are necessary or really all that important and, to be honest, I’m really sick of thinking about them. I’m ready to move forward and stop using the ease of emptiness as a crutch. Yeah, it’s a hell of a lot easier to swallow, but it’s a bitter pill.

And yet, there are things that happen over the course of a person’s life that leave marks, bits of scar tissue where it was once smooth. From that point forward, there will be things that remind you of that rough patch left behind and sometimes the abrasiveness of the world keeps that spot raw and open, begging for infection. It becomes so uncomfortably comfortable that you don’t even notice it anymore. These things provide evidence that become a universal truth for you and that version of the truth creates the reality you experience. All in all, it’s all self-preservation. It’s all conditioning. Your response to certain situations becomes, after awhile, entirely visceral and the ability to see beyond what you know as true is ridiculously difficult. You can only know it’s a problem once you’re face-to-face with everything you’ve repressed for so long and that isn’t easy. And it doesn’t feel good. But it’s important.

Somewhere along the way, I trained myself to feel guilty for finding someone attractive. It was etched into the backs of my hands that I was somehow inherently unlovable and that to think of myself otherwise required a legitimate sidestep. How dare I think of myself as worthy to be loved by anyone other than my family? How dare I believe that some male person would ever sink low enough to find me attractive? How dare I, for just one moment, see myself as someone who will not die alone?

Obviously, it’s absolutely ludicrous. But that is as honest as it gets, folks. I could spend more time trying to figure out how in the hell I got to that point but I think I’d rather just pick up those pieces as I come across them. I’m more than ready to climb back behind the proverbial wheel and get the hell out of this place, ya dig? Life is about growth. I learned that I’m no longer comfortable leaning upon bad experiences to keep me safe. I want to be apart of the same yucky love stuff I’ve been watching behind the third-wheel for years and admitting that out loud is one of the scariest things I have ever done. To admit to myself that I’m not too cool for love, that I am willing to take a risk if it means I might, for the first time, get to know what it feels like to not have to apologize for feeling things.

Now I find myself in limbo, a place of having left the comfort of home but not knowing where to go. Where do we go from here? That’s really anyone’s guess, but I think my growth plates are leaning toward freedom. I’ve done the hardest part, admitting I have a problem, admitting to my addiction to loneliness and wallowing in self-pity and saying for the first time probably ever that I don’t want that for my life. For the first time, I’m open. I’m vulnerable. I’m willing to risk it because I’ve already lived the worst and the reward seems pretty magical.

Essentially, what I’m hoping other people might get out of this is that there are things in life you can dwell on and use as excuses; even very real, very legitimate things. But there is a time when those crutches need to be tossed aside. If you want something for your life, you can (and will) have it, but it doesn’t just come to you if you wish it hard enough. You have to allow yourself to be happy; to choose happiness and that choice often means being a little bit uncomfortable. I can’t say for sure yet, but I think it’s pretty worth it.

Lindsay Strong is an English grad student who is 24 going on 60. She loves most things including, but not limited to, cats, books, naps, and rap music. You can follow her on Twitter @LynziMarie.

(Featured image via)

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