Why good loving can feel the hardest to accept

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Imagine you’ve been on a long trip, strapped with packs and sacks, suitcases of all descriptions, items poking out of pockets, and wearing clothes that look a bit weathered; you’ve been wearing them day in and day out for a while now. After an uncomfortably long flight and a harrowing time collecting all your bags from the rotating luggage rack, you’re now trudging along with all your shit through the airport, onto the shuttle bus, onto the subway, onto a crowded streetcar, until you finally climb the stairs to your little room at last! Ahhhhhh! You drop your bags with a thud and climb exhausted into bed, not even bothering with the sheets or taking off your stinky worn clothes. The next day, you know you’ll have to start unpacking all your things, the least fun part of coming home, but for now, you get to rest…


This is what finding good love and safe space can often feel like. At first, it can feel so relieving. That internal feeling of “ahhhh at LAST!” washes over us as we sink into the soft cushy contours of being loved well or having safe space created for us to just BE.


But, but but…there’s this other part to the story too…the part where you have to unpack everything…


Because it’s often only once safe space is created that we can truly start to rest and unpack our “emotional baggage”. Some of us have been carrying around things so long we took for granted that those bags are still with us, and it can be a joyful but painful realization that we can unclench our fists around those bags now.


And the time where we get to rest can often reveal to us how hurt and in pain we’ve been all along, under the weight of that baggage. It can be hard to adjust to a lighter load, and to allow someone else to help carry our bags with us, or unpack them along side us…


Especially for those of us who have had to be in fight or flight mode in our relationships for a long time, to not have to operate in either of those spheres can feel challenging, and if we’re not willing to accept good loving, those fight or flight modalities can kick in to self-sabotage the good thing we’ve got going on. We’re often more willing to fling a (metaphorical ) bag hurling towards others or keep those bags packed and ready to go at the end of the bed at all times than we are to thoughtfully sit amongst our opened suitcases and really take a look at what’s in there, let alone let someone ELSE see what’s in them! It’s easier, and in some ways, feels more comfortable, to do what we’ve always done, what we expect we will NEED to do (aka protect ourselves from harm) than to let our guard down in the presence of someone who truly wants to just LOVE us.

External good loving coming our way also makes us have to bring our own INTERNAL self love up to par with that external love, which can be hella tough. If someone is trying to give us all this love that we are totally worthy of, but we ourselves don’t feel worthy of love inside, then we’re very likely to run from that love, or shy away from it, or be suspicious of it.


Worst of all, it can suck to do the work you thought you had already done all over again, and in front of someone you truly love and who loves you and who isn’t responsible for your wounds but now has to be there to help heal them with you. Your past relationships might have made you feel that there’s no way someone would stick around to help unpack these heavy loads with you, and being vulnerable enough to prove that fearful voice inside your head wrong takes strength and bravery and a lot of self love that is often hard to muster.

When it comes to this  kind of work we must do for love (there’s no way to NOT do this work buds, trust me), Anne Michaels, my fave author, has a great quote:

“In all the epics, in all the stories that have lasted through many lifetimes, it is always the same truth: love must wait for wounds to heal. It is this waiting we much do for each other, not with a sense of mercy,  or in judgment, but as if forgiveness were a rendezvous. How many are willing to wait for another in this way? Very few.”

As much strength as it took to hold all that baggage for so long, dear traveller, I hope when the time and space comes for you to lay down your bags, you’ll find the added strength and courage to drop them and let love help you rifle through their contents slowly, and with gentleness. And remember, when you create loving safe space for someone else, they’re also learning how to drop their bags at your feet too…


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