In Vulnerability, There Is Hope

Inspired by the ever-intuitive Rian over at Truth and Cake, I have been encouraged to jump off the proverbial bloggers’ bridge and be 100% vulnerable by sharing something deeply personal.  But before I do that, allow me to gather the courage share why I’m baring my heart and soul like this.

Rian’s post really made me think about what I want to achieve on Defining Wonderland.  It’s hard to just put a blog into a box and be completely sure of the messages you want your readers to take away from your posts.  I want my Wonderlings to be amused, inspired, encouraged, and comforted by the stories I share and the questions I pose.  Now, I doubt all of that will be accomplished in each and every post, but I hope to at least keep folks coming back for more.  I accept that some posts may be good, some may be great, and plenty others will probably bore you to tears, but that is the risk every writer must take.  It’s a rather solo endeavor, this blog-keeping, but I don’t feel as though I’m alone with all of you out there commenting and posting on your own blogs.  It’s encouraging and keeps me going when my creativity and motivation take a nosedive.

Ok, I think I’ve stalled long enough.  The truth is…

I am terrified that I will end up alone because I am afraid to let anyone close enough to hurt me.

I have been single for over five years now and my last relationship was three years’ worth of feeling like I was never good enough because I was with someone who didn’t want to be with me.  Sure, he said he did, but his actions told me that he felt anything but.  I tried everything in my power to be the perfect girlfriend and it still wasn’t enough; I couldn’t make him love me.

Now I have learned a lot in the years I have been single.  I have discovered what I will and will not put up with.  I know that I need to be both respected and loved in a relationship and that communication is everything.  I have patiently waited for Mr. Right without settling for Mr. Right Now.

I have read countless articles and books and watched hours of television all offering love advice.  I’ve put up boundaries and followed the “rules” set forth by the Millionaire Matchmaker.  I tried Plenty of Fish.  No luck.  I spent a year on Match.com where I emailed dozens of guys (with seldom a response, I might add) and met approximately five guys.  Five guys.  In a year.

They weren’t bad guys.  The last one was actually perfect, but I just didn’t feel that special spark with him or any of the others.  There were no butterflies in my stomach, no sweaty palms, no quickening of breath, no racing heart rate, nothing.  Part of me thinks it was my own inner demon sabotaging my happiness and putting up a block with each of these guys so I won’t get hurt again.  Part of me wonders if I’m just meant to be one of those people who everyone asks, “You’re so great!  Why are you still single?”  God, what an awful question to ask someone.

Regardless of my own doubts, there is still a hopeful part of me that thinks that maybe I will find the person that will make me feel everything that people in love say they feel.  Fireworks, wholeness, passion.  I hear and read stories of couples meeting by chance, meeting through blind dates, meeting through dating sites and I think, “Hey, maybe some day I’ll have a story like that to share.”  I would love to have one of those anecdotes that makes others smile and pull their loved ones a little closer with the shared knowledge that they met in their own special way too.  At the end of the day, I can allow my fears and doubts to consume me or I can remain hopeful and make that my focal point.

I choose hope.

It’s harder to keep pursuing a goal that seems so impossible to reach at times, but those are the goals with the biggest rewards.  It’s difficult to put into words how lonely I feel at times and how much I want a man to just pop up out of the blue and be the guy for me, but life doesn’t always happen that way.  It can take a while to get back on your feet and push through times of uncertainty.  There is nothing wrong with taking a different course than others.  There are bumps along the way and you can feel like you’re never going to find what you want, what you need.  I sincerely hope that each of you find the perfect mate to go through life with, have children (if you like), and live the fullest of lives in whatever definition you choose.

I don’t feel better or worse about my revelation, but I do feel real.  There is no weight lifted from my shoulders, but there is something to be said about making yourself vulnerable.

And maybe that’s the key.

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18 thoughts on “In Vulnerability, There Is Hope

  1. pavlovamud says:

    What an utterly awesome post. I can’t help being drawn in by the title, partially because of my own struggles with trust and vulnerability, and partially because it’s a great twist on the older adage ,”there is strength in vulnerability” (which makes me wince a little bit).
    I loved the picture, I loved the build-up, I loved the honesty. I loved that you were so honest you put it out there in bold. Between lots of hard returns. Clearly that took lots of courage, especially given your fear of being hurt (who knows who could hurt you now it’s in the annals of blogging history?). So that, I say, is hopeful.
    My other reflections are simply these:
    You can be even lonelier in a relationship than being alone.
    Yes, sparks will fly, but that’s why they’re called sparks and not the Olympic flame. Sparks die out. And watching the Olympic flame gets really boring after a while.
    I’m married, and I’m just as scared as you, about exactly the same thing. How’s that for cold comfort?
    I guess what I’m trying to say – in a somewhat callous manner – is that change doesn’t come with circumstances, it comes from within. I realized a while back that for me, my biggest, ongoing, mind-freezing fear is about how much of my life I’m investing in that ultimately I can’t control. And when I think about it, that’s the case whether I’m with someone or not.

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you seems like such an inferior statement for my thoughts on your comment, but thank you. Your reflections are spot on and I don’t think we are ever not scared of being left lonely, coupled or not. There is something powerful in believing that things will all work out in the end, but it’s up to each of us to face our fears and jump off that hypothetical cliff into the unknown. For now, I’m standing on that cliff with my toes over the edge. I’m getting there and your comment put me that much closer to taking the leap and taking control.

      Thanks again for your kind, thoughtful, and encouraging words, Pavlovamud. They mean the world.

  2. Go Jules Go says:

    Oh, amen! I’m so glad you posted this. It really is amazing how being genuine can affect people and draw them to you, even if feels like they’ll run screaming. I love this post – and you are so fabulous I wouldn’t know where to start!

    Giving advice on finding the right guy is so not my forte (not that you’re looking for advice!), because I’ve never known what I was doing, and in many ways, had a similar experience to you. Before meeting my hub, I had a long-term “relationship” with someone who was really just a best friend and I never felt good enough. I’m not sure if I felt grand fireworks with my husband when we finally kissed after a year and a half of working together, but I definitely felt happy and at home IMMEDIATELY (which was shocking), and I couldn’t eat for weeks because I was so lovesick (I guess that’s the right word). We’ve been together 9 years and he still makes me laugh, which I always tell him is the only reason I keep him around 😉

    So, long-winded way of saying that I think it’s great you’re not settling for Mr. Right Now, and that when it IS right, it’s easy. You won’t have to try. 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      (I wrote this comment a while ago, but I must have selected “Comment” rather than “Reply”)

      Aww thanks, Jules! Are you kidding me? I’m ALWAYS looking for advice! I’m so glad you shared the reality of your experience. Sparks are fine, but feeling comfortable and at home are so much more important in the long run. My aunt and uncle have been married for over 30 years and my aunt still says this: “I don’t just love my husband, I LIKE him. I still want to hang out with him and I think that’s more important than just being bound by love.”

      It may be a long wait to find a love like theirs (and yours!), but it’s definitely worth it in the end. Especially if he can make me laugh. =)

      It’s hard sharing your fears and insecurities, but you do feel more connected to people once you do. Another gold star for the always amazing Ms. Rian for inspiring the both of us to open up like this.

  3. Truth and Cake says:

    I’m sorry it took me so long to check out your post, but I have to say, it is utterly beautiful. I wish so much that the right guy would come along tomorrow and provide you with the companionship you long for. I was single for three years before I met Grant. I dated a few guys during that time but were no real sparks. So I know how frustrating it can be. Like you, I’ve also had some not-so-great relationships and I learned some invaluable lessons from them, namely that I should never be in a relationship just because I’m too scared to be alone. You are incredibly brave for continuing to wait for the right guy. And, while I’m no fortune teller, I have faith that he will come along. I went on a trip to Europe on my own, without a single thought of meeting anyone. It was when I was at my most comfortable in my singleness that BAM, someone tapped me on my shoulder and it was my future husband. Keep pursuing the things you love and keep getting out there. You will meet someone. Thanks for sharing this deeply personal story. It allows all of us to feel more connected to you.

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you so much! Here’s hoping that my crossed fingers, my parents’ attempts to pimp me out, and the correct alignment of the planets will lead me to a great guy. The story of you and Grant is inspiring and traveling alone… wow! I wish I had the lady balls to pull that off. But I’m getting there.

      And congratulations on being Freshly Pressed again! I swear, you, Jules, the pig, and the chipmunks are taking WordPress by storm and I couldn’t be happier. Long live Truth and Cake! =)

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, Abby! I loved what you wrote about not wanting the perfect match, but the perfect match for you. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think that hope keeps us happy and in the long run, I’d rather be happy. =)

  4. ancarofl says:

    Thanks for sharing!
    The fear of being alone… well certainly you’re not alone in that, as you can see and knew. It’s tricky. On the one hand, they say there’s someone for everyone. Still, we all know that some people never marry … so it’s only natural that you would worry, but although I don’t know your age I get the feeling there’s still plenty o’ time 😀 I have the time but I suppose I am rather … quirky. The thing is, I like myself, and I doubt it that I would be ready or even want to change anything about me, even if it meant having a hard time finding somebody to love … tough to say though. Sometime hope is the best policy. I hope.

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you for your comment, ancarofl! I personally think that as long as we are breathing (and being quirky), there is still “plenty o’ time” to find the right person. I have always firmly believed that liking oneself and being comfortable in one’s own skin is the key to building a great relationship. Who would really want to be with someone who didn’t like themself? I know I wouldn’t. Plus, the right person will never want you to change the awesome person that you are, quirks and all! But maybe if you meet the right person, you’ll WANT to change and that’s ok too. 🙂

      Keep hoping and thanks again for reading!

  5. artzent says:

    Thank you Jessica for your honesty and your well written post. It really hit home with me because I have been in both places: With husbands abusive and kind but no sparks. I endured ten years with each and they with me. Then I did meet someone who was my soul mate but lots of problems got in the way. Since 1985 I have lived alone except for my kids. I have been involved with guys and gone out casually but never found one that was not looking for a mother or a slave. That is not to say they are not out there I just haven’t been in the right place at the right time. Yes, I have been lonely at times and long to share everything with a man who has his own presence and doesn’t NEED but WANTS a life with a similar mate.
    One thing that I can tell you for sure is that living alone is far better than living with someone who you have nothing in common with. That is misery personified! I don’t give up hope however, even at my age and certainly you should not at yours. I don’t believe that you should chase love like going on Match.com- been there and done that too- but thinking about what you like out of life and putting yourself in a situation where a man might be who likes the same gives more opportunity. in other words give like finds like a chance.
    In the mean time living alone has many advantages that are not easy to give up. It has to be the kind of person that you are willing to give and take with! It should not be a blogger however, unless you have two computers! lol But serious!

    • Jessica says:

      June, I am so happy to hear that you too haven’t given up hope. Thank you for sharing your own experiences with relationships that didn’t have a happy ending. It’s nice to hear that there are other people who have gone through hard times, but still maintain a positive outlook on finding love. I believe people who stay “glass half-full” are better equipped to make it through troubled times a little bit easy. And you sound like one of those strong folks!

      I’ve always said I would rather be alone than be with the wrong person and your advice confirms that I’m doing the right thing. I once saw a quote that read, “Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.” That statement makes so much sense to me as I’m sure it does to you. It’s not a bad thing to be alone, especially if the alternative is someone who is not right for you. The payoff for waiting for the right guy will be amazing and I cannot wait. I’ll try to stay away from other bloggers though. 😉

Don't let me do all the blogging, join in the conversation. Otherwise, I just feel like I'm talking to myself...

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