Johanna Smith, Perth WA
I am currently 34 years old, and from the ages of 15-28 have been in long-term relationships. Literally as 1, 2, 3 or 4 year length relationships ended, there was another one (the next day or two) knocking on my door ready to begin… and I always took it! I liked the exciting-ness of it all; the feeling that someone was interested in me and all that went with it… until the not so pretty themes would raise their head, and similar issues or patterns would come out in each relationship. Then, it wasn’t so much fun. However, I seemingly kept myself in the illusion that “I was doing OK”, as I told myself that this one (this relationship, man or ‘catch’) is better than the last.
Then there was another part of me that fooled myself into not completely seeing all that was totally wrong with my relationships, but instead that I was ‘strong’ and ‘lucky’ because I wasn’t allowing a man to beat me, or attack me in the obvious ways. Yet much was going on behind the curtains so to speak, that I was allowing and accepting. Things such as allowing myself to be touched by my partner in a way that wasn’t truly caring and gentle; or covering up unspoken issues between us with sex as the resolution; or not saying how I truly felt because of his possible reaction; or just accepting hurtful comments / swearing etc.
Back then, I was numb and so out of touch with myself and my physical body that I literally would not be able to say what I had been really feeling. My body had become ‘hard’ or ‘hardened’, and I’d put myself into such ‘busy motion’ that I didn’t even know what ‘to be still’ was, i.e. to feel comfortable actually stopping and just sitting down by myself, since being on my own felt very uncomfortable.
I realised that those relationships were really just filling a ‘neediness’ and ‘emptiness’ present in me at that time.
So the amazing thing today is, after having being blessed ‘being single’ for the past few years, I’ve given myself the space and grace to rebuild, reconnect, honour and cherish myself. I’ve been able to fully claim what I will and will not accept in a relationship in simple ways, such as allowing myself to just ‘be myself’ (and being all the love that I know I am) in the company of a man: being able to speak up about what may not feel right between us, without fear of (his) reaction or response like before…
So recently I was given the opportunity to ‘test this out’: a man came into my life who had a very different lifestyle to my current one of chosen tenderness with myself, and because of this, he was also able to enjoy his own natural tenderness that also radiated around me… it was lovely! We had some truly lovely moments, that have given me the knowing and confidence to claim the same with any man who is willing to give the potential of a relationship that is of tender love, a go. I also understood that, had I not claimed what I did with this man, then it would have been very possible for him to have been a completely different way with me. I realised that part of the mess of my previous relationships, was my simply not claiming or expressing what deep down I knew I naturally deserved – a tender love.
When it came time for this little relationship to come to an end, I did not feel hurt or rejected like before. I knew that his reasoning was something he had to sort out on his own and I respected that. I also knew deeply that in spite of the ending, I am already ALL the love that I am, and that it (love) can never be given to me by another.
I was truly proud of myself after this experience. I was proud of how far I had come and proud that I could stand up for and claim what I knew I deserved.
Most of all, what I appreciated in myself was that when we keep things simple and about what we naturally deserve, and communicate from that, then others are so ready to also feel that. I have inspired myself!
But there is something deeper to feel… a deeper understanding has recently been presented which I’d like to share. Over the last 6 weeks, men have been coming up to me out of the blue, speaking to me and asking me for dates – something which is new and has not really happened to me during the last 5 years! Firstly, I found myself not really being able to accept their compliments or their interaction, and I asked myself why. Then, when I allowed myself to be more open and further appreciate my loveliness and what those men were seeing and feeling from me, I found that I could be quite natural around them! I realised that before, I’d been putting up an automatic barrier around men, given my past experiences, and that maybe this is why no-one had wanted to approach me for many years…
I kept asking and questioning myself, “Why would I be able to accept such compliments from a woman or younger person, but not from a man? Why would I have no hesitation in accepting an offer to go for a cuppa with a female, yet had hesitation with a male?”.
This questioning allowed me to be more open to feeling what was behind people’s compliments – which simply felt like an appreciation of the woman they saw and felt standing before them. Now I am able to be playful and joyful in response to the compliments that are coming my way – from anyone!
I feel now that I am allowing myself (all of me) to express fully, and after exploring two short-term relationships, I have found a number of things:
- I have claimed (now) how men are around me – being lovely, loving and very tender.
- That each relationship has brought up ways that I have allowed men to be around me in the past.
- That my partner’s ability (or inability) to trust this level of love and tenderness that I am now able to offer and present them, is always their choice to either accept, or not.
- I know that what I choose and create for myself (as a woman) is reflected in the quality of the relationship that I might then have. A relevant point for us women – let’s face it – if we all took a stand and were very clear about what we will and won’t accept in our relationships, then men would have to respect this – if they truly wanted to be with us.
- Going even deeper, I have appreciated the gift of free will and allowing – I have and am still learning, that people have the right to make their own choices.
- As I allow myself to feel all of the above, I realise that rather than just having the tenderness and gentleness from a man, actually it is about having and developing a deep connection and a true relationship.
So with all of this, it means that there has been another level for me to look at, i.e. where I had possibly been accommodating and compromising myself with men to a ‘certain level’, rather than just being me completely in full, and trusting that ‘just being me’, is enough.
I am forever learning…