You know what happened?
A time ago, someone you loved dearly did not have the internal tools or resources to love you the way you needed, and you made up a belief about yourself.
You made up a belief about your worthiness, about your lovability, about your ability to make people want to stay.
So you play this game of push and pull–pulling people in and pushing them away as a demonstration of your ability to control the dynamic. To shut relationships on and off. To fill your cup as needed. To avoid the pain of rejection or a reminder of that thing that happened to you. That thing you haven’t faced or forgiven because you’re scared of opening the chest of memories which have been left to fester without light or air for years.
None of this is overt or even conscious. It’s just a pattern.
You show up as your best self and win people over. Friends, lovers. Not just any people—people who love easily. They’re so easy to spot, aren’t they? The ones who are so deeply kind and vulnerable and open. You feel safe with them. You have this sense that they would never go out of their way to hurt you, and it’s true.
You’re attracted to these people because they show up to their relationships and to life in ways you wish you were willing to. They expose themselves in ways you don’t allow yourself to. They display a resilience you don’t believe you have. They leap over and over again, through every disappointment. And they only deepen their self-love and self-worth with every setback and heartbreak.
You are drawn to them, because it’s how you were created to experience and demonstrate love.
But when they get too close, they venture near the thing you’re masking. When you begin to feel the fear of exposure of that thing, you shut down.
You don’t want to shut down, but you can’t help yourself.
That thing whispers so softly you don’t even realize it’s speaking to you, creating issues that aren’t there. Projecting old experiences onto new ones.
You start to shut down in inconspicuous ways.
You take a little longer to reply than you did before.
Your words are shorter.
Your body language is closed off.
You withhold the truth.
The changes are subtle, yet progressive.
The distance is felt and addressed, but you deny anything has changed. “I’m okay, just busy. I’m good, just going through a few things right now. I’m okay.”
And you slowly push and push and push and push people away until they’re gone and you are left with nothing but the comforting familiarity of loneliness, and righteousness about their departure.
See, I’ve learned that people reject the unfamiliar even if it’s good for them. Even if it’s nourishing. It doesn’t matter—it just “tastes” funny.
And I’ve learned that people recreate the familiar even if it’s painful. Degrading. Lonely.
Friendships fail and you don’t know why. Relationships fail and you don’t know why. Or you claim to know why, but you only address the surface shit while leaving the thing undisturbed, protected, deepening its roots within you.
It’s all you.
And you may be reading this and thinking of all the people who pushed you away and feeling victimized. But I’m talking about you, too. Yes, you who keeps lining up for people who are unavailable in the ways you need people to be. You have a belief about yourself too, a belief that is limiting your experience of intimacy, connection, togetherness, friendship…
It’s all you.
It always is.