One of the biggest joys of living is being in a fulfilling relationship. Conversely, one of the sharpest aches we humans endure is the heartache of a relationship that didn’t work out. Sometimes the pain is just so great that we vow to ourselves, never again!
By making that decision, we start viewing relationships as a threat to our wellbeing and happiness, when actually they are the opposite.
The truth is that, in spite of our experiences, we humans have an immense capacity to forgive, to love and to accept love. We also have a need to bond and connect with one another. Being afraid and so protective of our hearts is to deny our own humanity and ultimately, deny ourselves the joy of loving and living a fulfilled life.
As children, we were open and eager to experience everything the world could offer. Fearless and curious, we tested gravity by jumping from the highest tree, shared sandwiches and hugs with any stray that came along, listened attentively to a stranger’s tale of faraway lands and drove our parents mad with worry, while we ran about wondering why grown-ups were always in the way of our fun.
When we grew up, we learnt what our parents didn’t want to say — be careful or you’ll get hurt. We became cautious and afraid, we started not to do things, just in case they went wrong. We developed fears. Fears of heights, of strange dogs, of strangers, and ultimately of anyone that could possible hurt us. We also developed a fear of intimate relationships, because the pain of rejection, betrayal, humiliation and abandonment is just so sharp.
However, whilst it may be wise to teach your children to be careful when talking to strangers or jumping from the highest tree, be careful what other messages you are sending out.
Of course love is risky, uncontrollable and terrifying but a life without loving and being loved is a life lost.
Alex Santoro Emmerson