My partner and I recently got engaged and this is something I never dreamed of happening again. After the breakdown of my 12 year marriage, I was adamant that I’d rather die alone than risk heartbreak and loss again. The idea of ever making it down the altar again was something that never crossed my mind.
Until I met my partner.
Whilst our relationship is an incredibly healthy one, where I feel I am 100% comfortable being myself, expressing my differing views, and my opinion always valued – there are days where I feel insecure and feel scared of getting hurt again.
I did some reflecting today and attempted to look inwards to work out why that is. Is it because of the fact I was sexually abused as a child? Is it because I have been involved in several toxic relationships? Is it because of an overlap between my personal and professional life causing me to live in a constant state of fight-or-flight mode?
As I looked inwards, I realised exactly what it was.
Whilst I no longer hold any romantic feelings for anyone in my past, I still hold sadness. And whilst I have had a person here or there apologise for how they treated me – for the most part, there has been a lack of acknowledgment, lack of understanding and some gaslighting.
It is the lack of closure that makes me question my own worth.
My fiancé is incredibly logical, practical and transparent. He tells me all the time that being with me is the happiest he has ever felt, the most comfortable, and how refreshing it is to be with someone who allows him to still be an individual. He knows everything about my past and trusts me 100% because he knows the person I truly am. He says all the time how I am the perfect girl for him and we have the perfect relationship. He has looked after me when I’ve been sick, talked me through my anxiety attacks, had a song written for me, continually tells everyone how happy I make him, always includes me in every decision.
All that should be enough. But sometimes, I feel utterly scared.
When I feel scared, I remember the way my first love dumped me, called me the r slur, emotionally abused me – and returned to me years later to admit how sorry he was and how letting me go was one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
When I feel scared, I remember being blamed for holes in doors and begging for someone to stop yelling at me and to stop making me cry.
When I feel scared, I remember how a man once promised me the world but lied to me in order to use and abuse me.
When I feel scared, I remember how a man led me on, knowing that I was never a priority and that my self worth was so low that I would accept it.
When I feel scared, I am that same six year old crying herself to sleep at night, not knowing if she would be touched again and if it was even worth trying to sleep at all.
When I feel scared, I remember my Mum telling me that nobody would ever love me and want to marry me, that I would need to change different aspects of myself for anyone to accept me.
When I feel scared, I remember that any abuse I endured did not stop me from loving people, it actually stopped me from loving myself.
I look at my engagement ring now and I try hard to smile, to want to focus on the future, to forget the pain of the past.
But sometimes on days like this, the memories seep back into my consciousness and I can’t let go. I want to remember some of the good memories I shared with these men, but to me, they are just a reminder that I wasn’t good enough to be loved and respected unconditionally. That maybe I am defective. That maybe people, in the end, will just hurt me.
Then I remember the words my fiancé told me tonight on the phone:
“No matter how bad a day you’ve had or how stressful, the thing you can always count on is my love for you. That will always be there.”
So, I will continue to smile at the photos of us on my bedside table, grin at the CD case for the song he gave me, feel the nice warmth of the blanket under me, the laptop I’m typing on that he gave to me, the fact that he once walked across the Perth CBD carrying a speaker for me, the fact that he’s bought my favourite dish to store in his freezer for when I come over, the fact he talks to me for at least 1.5 hours every day despite how busy a day he’s had.
I tell myself I must keep pushing on, pushing through, because I finally have the love I deserve.
And it’s okay, I must forgive those who were never sorry. I have to forgive them for my own peace of mind, for my own healing, for my own recovery.
My fiancé knows how capable and amazing I am. He knows what I have overcome and what I can still overcome. He loves me even when I do not truly love myself.
But I do have to love myself. I have to fully open myself again, trust that he will always love me even during our harder moments, be confident in our love and in our future.
I’ve got to forgive those who aren’t sorry so I can move forward with my life. So I can remember that they a part of my past, but are not part of my present or future.
That my future lies in the first and only person who has ever made me feel 100% safe.
And it is – the world is safe. I am not my past. I am not my trauma. I no longer need to survive anymore, I can continue to learn to thrive! 🙂
Thuy Le (formerly known as Thuy Yau) is a freelance writer and Youth Work graduate living in Perth, Australia. She loves to share her own personal experiences about overcoming adversity, as she believes that human beings are more capable than they realise. She writes to make a positive difference in the world and to inspire others to learn from themselves and their own experiences. Her writing has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids. She is currently writing her first book.