Leslie was deeply depressed. Her passion for work was diminished. Life felt empty, and each time she thought her tears were over, the flood gates opened again. She told herself, "it’s not the end of the world. I have so many things to be thankful for. I’m self-supporting, healthy, and attractive, and have a career that gives me great satisfaction. In my specialty I’m one of the top attorneys in town." Until recently, that was enough. Even her family's harping about when was she going to find a man and marry, wasn’t of major concern. That was because work occupied so much of her time that every night, she fell into bed content she did not have to dress up and spend the evening with a man who failed to stimulate her physically or intellectually.
But her world changed after she met Randy, her girlfriend's neighbor, who invited both of them to his Labor Day barbecue. The two of them hit it off immediately. She thought that in part, it was because he was recently divorced and had custody of his two kids, which she felt, reflected a sense of commitment and responsibility. She never considered that it might also have something to do with the fact that he wasn’t unavailable. Despite his time restraints, Randy made room for Leslie in his life. They saw each other regularly, spoke on the phone nightly and spent a great deal of time together with his children. As a result, she let her guard down and allowed herself to become emotionally involved. After a while, Leslie began to think of marriage and even considered moving in with him. But, things were too good to be true. The closer they became, the more his children and both their parents decided she was the prefect mate for him, the more estranged he became. When it was apparent that she was not about to give up on him he confessed, truthfully or not, that he was interested in another woman. Leslie was emotionally devastated. The prospect of losing him caused her to be terribly hurt, but also allowed her to recognize how much she really wanted to be loved, to have a marriage, and a family of her own. She went to a physician for medication to aid her to sleep, but her depression continued. Finally she sought out therapy.
Leslie's story isn’t unique. It’s similar to those I’ve heard from, numerous individuals, both male and female, who were emotionally hurt as children and, as a result, insulated themselves throughout their lives. The reason being: To eliminate the risk of being hurt again.
By the time I saw Leslie, she was emotionally paralyzed, discouraged, and depressed. But I thought she doesn’t have to stay that way. There is something she needs to hear that can help her in the future." That something was that in the course of your lifetime most of you will meet more than half dozen or more individuals whom you can love. There really isn’t just one person who is the be-all and end-all in anyone's life; although when you find one, it’s sometimes hard not to feel that way. The truth be known, there are many individuals in the world you can potentially love. You have to, however, be willing and able to let them in.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be selective. But, being selective requires you to ask several pertinent questions.
1. Are they available? If not, don't pass go, don't collect $200.00. Just leave immediately.
2. Are they coming after me, or am I chasing them? Note: Never marry someone you need to convince or cajole into marrying you.
3. Ask, am I attracted to him or her because they have problems or need a care taker? The axiom is to never look for a bird with a broken wing. They rarely heal and even when they do, it’s doubtful you will ever get to fly together.
4. Question what role you typically play, i.e., the victim, the martyr, the caregiver, or the prince?
Determining the character you choose to portray, will tell you what kind of partner you will unconsciously search for. For example, a victim needs a victimizer, a martyr needs a person controlled by guilt, a caregiver needs a crippled soul, i.e., a caretaker, and a prince needs a princess. Note: However, if you don't want the kind of person you generally wind up with, you first have to alter the role you play, so you can fit with the person you want.
Let me further stress that you should not consume yourself with the pain you experienced in childhood or in a previous hurtful relationship. It will only serve to keep the hurt alive and justify you not opening yourself up. Nor should you decide you need a "long" time to heal or should take a hiatus from dating before getting involved with someone new. Both actions, only serve to increase your fears. The rule of thumb is when you focus on the past; you lose sight of your future. You need to also keep in mind that finding Mr. or Miss Right is a game of numbers. You are only looking for one person. I know there are many "crazies" out there, but concentrating on avoiding them will only result in you missing potential "Mr. or Miss Right." Remember, in order to find the "right" one, you have to be out in the world and make yourself available. You can’t sit in your home and hope they’ll come knocking on your door.
If you’re out and about, I promise, you will eventually find someone. At that point it becomes important to determine how you’re going to go about loving the person you’ve found. You must work at creating a space in your life for him or her, both physically and emotionally. You need to ensure that he or she realizes you care, through words, deeds and emotions. You need to be vulnerable; i.e., to display your feelings without fear or dependency and learn to laugh because often the best medicine for a hurting relationship, is humor. Keep in mind, that little things really do matter if you let them, and that protecting yourself from hurt today, will only cause you pain tomorrow. Therefore, don't close anyone out or keep your feelings (positive or negative) in, because too often, you might close out someone who is truly available. Lastly, remember that you can never go back and capture what you didn’t allow yourself to experience in the first place. So in 2015, go out, enjoy, and allow others to enjoy you; always recalling that, if they’re the wrong one, you have the right to say "goodbye."