Do you find yourself afraid of love? Convinced you’ll be left? Starting something, only to find an excuse not to get too close? In and out. Often pushing someone away?
A number of childhood losses can be at the bottom of your fears. Death of a parent. The child of divorce. A parent’s illness. Abandonment. Neglect. Abuse.
When there was no one to count on, of course, you’d be scared. You want and need love, but maybe, over and over, it seems someone leaves you. Falls away like ash through your fingers. You can’t make it stop, so you seal yourself off.
You’re in a time loop of the past. All the things you felt then, you feel now. BUT you won’t let yourself. You learned long ago different ways to stop your feelings.
Here are a few. One is to tell yourself “nothing matters.” (Read on, though, there are reasons, and also a way to get out of that loop you’re stuck in.)
Making Nothing Matter
Falling in love equals danger. You’re afraid of love. Why? Because everything mattered once or twice or maybe more times than that. It hurt when they left.
So, now, you tell yourself nothing matters. No one matters. No one will ever matter again.
You create a bubble around you, live in a sort of cave. No one can enter. Then someone does, even though you yell, “Don’t come in.” And, a red light goes on.
But, you’ve met someone? It happens sometimes. But you tell yourself, nothing can matter, remember? It’ll just be a little fling.
Let yourself get too close, open up desire, and all your mixed-up feelings come right back. Wanting love and not wanting it. It’s too scary. That’s the trap.
And, when your “nothing matters” mantra doesn’t work? You have to have other ways to protect yourself. So, what do you do?
Ignoring All Your Feelings
You start ignoring your feelings. Try to keep them locked up. There are many ways.
You might tell yourself that feeling of love is just another fleeting feeling. Don’t take it seriously. Maybe you drink a bit too much to get control over what seems to be a threat.
Pushing aside that person who just entered your sacred space is another strategy. Maybe you can make them go away. (Before there’s a risk you might be left yourself.)
Certainly, you can try to make your feelings go away, in one way or another. Right? Find fault with them. Create a fight. Tell them you need space. Or that you’re not ready.
You’re in one big fight inside yourself. Being afraid of love. But maybe you can ignore that fight if you don’t open up your feelings. So, you pretend not to care. Or to need anyone at all.
Saying: “I Don’t Need You”
You say you don’t need anyone. You want to believe it. But, that’s not true. Everyone has needs. And, when you ignore your needs; it makes you very much alone. Because you’re afraid of love.
Maybe you tell yourself it’s better that way. Alone is safer. Right? Well, maybe not.
But maybe you need to convince yourself – only this moment matters. There doesn’t have to be any future. Just a little fling? Don’t let anyone get under your skin.
You try to stop it, but what if someone does get inside your bubble? You tell yourself – don’t get too close now. Don’t open up. Don’t remember your past. That spells trouble.
None of these strategies (to manage your early losses) really work. What does, then?
Maybe the thing is: get to know the whole package. Of any new person who comes your way. But mostly the whole package of YOU. Ignoring it makes you destined to repeat it.
Ignore It & You’ll Repeat It
If you ignore your feelings; or the past, you’re going to repeat it. In relationship after relationship. Or, in trying to be ok with being alone. Why? It’s familiar. But why else?
Because all those feelings and experiences still live inside you; as hard as you try to push them away. You can’t get rid of them just because you pretend that they aren’t there.
Maybe the question is, what’s really going on? Underneath these determined self-protective maneuvers. And, being afraid of love? What is it that you’re repeating?
It’s complicated, but one thing might be: Not feeling wanted. Losing a mom when you’re little. Having no dad; one that left. Being neglected. Those are losses that scar you.
Is that the Pandora’s box, hidden inside? Those early losses can make you feel you did something wrong; weren’t important enough to stay; weren’t wanted and never will be.
Fear of Not Being Wanted
So, you fall in love? And find yourself in a complicated dance, trying to stay tough, without a care in the world, especially for him or her. Another big lie to yourself.
But all you can see is that person you could “maybe” love, leaving you if you aren’t careful. You try “nothing matters; ignore it, I can survive without you, you know.”
It’s all about staying in the box where you’re stuck. That one that feels safer than opening up your heart. That box is like a coffin, though. And it’s created out of fear. Fear of feelings.
You’re afraid of love. Of being unwanted. Not as good as. Being rejected. Even jealousy. All the ways you think you could lose love right when you need it. That’s your past talking.
But the past is a time loop you’re caught in, day in and day out. Love is real. At least, it can be. BUT, if love is to enter the picture, relics of the past cannot be ignored.
Getting Free of Your Fear
Anything can happen, even love. If you don’t tell yourself, in the voice of the time loop (remember, it’s the past): “Today, tomorrow, yesterday, it’s all the same.”
You’re afraid of love. Love is scary if love has hurt you. But if you don’t take the chance, you will stay stuck. Hiding in that seemingly “safe place” out of fear.
Getting unstuck? Means, making a change. Admitting you’re scared, but trying anyway. Knowing that your mantras of “No one loves me. Everyone will leave,” aren’t really true.
Being ok with needing someone. At least, working on it. Being willing to risk your life (at least that’s how it feels) to love again.
Not staying stuck in old losses. That made you believe no one will stay or that you aren’t enough to make them want to. Seeing those losses for what they were – and are.
That’s the only way to get out of the time loop of old hurts. By going back over the past; in slow or fast flashbacks; and coming out the other side.
With someone, you couldn’t imagine existed and don’t want to live without.
Want to know more? See the new Hulu film, Palm Springs. A fun, quirky, and hopeful Rom-Com. And, read my longer piece on my film blog, Characters on the Couch.
It’s the story of Palm Springs’s characters, Sarah and Nyles. Their struggles with love, and how they get out of this same kind of time loop of past fears.