Why I (we) sometimes want it to fail. (And how to stop.)

I’d always said I couldn’t handle a long-distance relationship, but the Universe brings you what you need whether it’s what you think you want or not. Distance can be tough on a relationship. It can also help save it. At least in my opinion.

His words were so sweet, I felt his touch so deep, our connection became so profoundly obvious over the years… I couldn’t just ignore it. That’s not to say, however, that thousands of miles and months apart didn’t disrupt my ability to stand firmly on that reality.

When messages went unanswered for hours, or even a day or more, my mind carried me to depths of uncertainty and distrust. When calls were dropped I dreamed up terrible scenarios in which he’d actually hung up on me so he could be available to the beautiful woman walking by.

The especially hard truth hit home when I’d left mine, state-side, to live in South America with him. Disturbingly, the geographic proximity didn’t help the way I’d hoped. When he left in the morning and didn’t come home until after dark – even when he called to check in on me throughout the day – I found my self-talk convincing me that he was off with another woman. When it took him too long at the grocery store, I struggled against the desire to look for clues that he had another relationship on the side. It was not a happy life. Neither was it a good version of myself.

Over and over again, though, he showed up for me. He proved my paranoid mind wrong. He demonstrated his fidelity, devotion, and love without knowing I needed it. Not to mention his re-assuring words. So WTF was going on in my twisted, distrustful mind?

In short,trauma response. After days – weeks, months even – of analyzing, I had a moment of realization: some part of me wanted the relationship to fail. It was an intense moment. Why in the world would I want a relationship that was so fulfilling, so supportive, so… well, magical… to fail? Because it would be safe.

All those years ago when I left the love of my life because it wasn’t really working I told myself I wanted to be single. But not alone single, just unattached single. (Ultimately, the universe gave me both, but that’s another story.) A couple years into “unattached” single I realized how much I loved it.

And I mean I LOVED it. Of course I did. I got to retain all the power because I was never deeply interested in whichever partner was in my life. I didn’t have to care about whether they were emotionally stable, available, or intelligent, financially capable, family oriented… just that they were physically healthy and not likely serial killers.

Plus, I didn’t have to be vulnerable, I didn’t have to trust, I didn’t have to devote myself to the effort of accepting another human, wholly and completely, flaws and all into the intimate parts of my life. It also gave me a great place to hide from the fact that I had deep-seated PTSD from previous relationships (like we all do).

Without ever realizing it I’d built a safety mechanism that could protect my heart. I sought out all the blazing neon signs announcing all the reasons whichever guy was in my life couldn’t possibly be the right guy for me.

Dancing around in the delight of that state, I happened to dance right into the arms of a wonderful man. And, years later, we were still dancing together in the healthiest and happiest relationship I’d ever been in. Which, of course, scared the shit out of me. So, that faulty software I’d uploaded into my perfect mental computer ran exactly as I had instructed and crafted countless scenarios in which I would be justified in running away. to a new place, for a brand new start.

It’s easy to believe in a relationship in the beginning. I like the beginning. It’s all great sex and infatuation and beautiful, re-assuring words. It’s discovery too. Eventually you start to discover the real-ness, the human-ness, the flawed-ness of the new partner. Then you get to the part where you have to make a commitment, of some kind. Truly accept this flawed person as they are and continue to believe in a future together. Not just a future, but one you will love living. Aaaaaaand, that’s where it gets risky. As I’m discovering, however, that’s also where it can turn into something even more beautiful. Because this time, as I work to re-program, to accept the vulnerability, to commit myself to something that scares me… in short, to heal… I have a true partner at my side. One that won’t run away because I’M imperfect. One that wants to hold my hand as I navigate this new version of myself in a relationship. One that cherishes the chance to be my safe space while I heal. He does all of this without knowing what he’s giving me, or even that I need it. He does it because he wants this too. He isn’t afraid of showing me that he’s committed to me, to us.

And that is exactly what I need to feel safe enough to un-install that old software. Little by little, one experience at a time. When the call gets dropped I literally focus on ALL the other reasons that shit happens. When it seems like it takes him too long to come home, I remind myself of all the other times I panicked and he came home. He probably also brought me food and showered me with kisses and told me about his day. When my mind continues to run that old software, I remind myself that trusting him is a choice. And I remember that day long ago in a moonlit park that he told me he chose to trust me.

It honestly did not take nearly as long as I thought. I felt complete peace the last time one of those random little trigger moments happened. PEACE! That, my friends, is a great foundation upon which to build utter and complete JOY.

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