There are many ways we learn to protect ourselves, many
forms of armor and resistance, some that serve us well and some not so well.
Overtime we develop patterns of shutting out interactions that we wish to
avoid, based on our own unique history and wounds. Some tense up in the face of
aggressive authority and some numb out when fearing abandonment. Some go into
denial when faced with a painful truth. These forms of resistance make sense;
they are clearly designed to protect us, even as they often cause their own pain.
But what has been fascinating to witness as a therapist is that
we also protect ourselves from things we really deeply want. I don’t mean the
way you want a chocolate bar or a nap. I
mean the things you have yearned for and feared you might never have, the things
that make you feel on the outside looking in, the things that years ago you might have
decided you didn’t deserve. There are things we so deeply want that we create
armor around ourselves to resist letting them in. Why? Because they scare us. A
I believe that most of the things that people feel afraid to
want are really very simple things, but at one point in our life they were
denied to us when we really needed them. Once denied, it becomes too risky to
trust that we may ever be given this gift. And so we stay wanting, unable to recognize
that we can have it right now. Here it is.
So you may have been emotionally rejected by a parent when
you needed to be comforted and now here is someone ready to comfort you, but
you are hidden behind walls, muscles tight to push away touch, wanting it but not
allowing it. And she is yearning to feel that her sexual energy is embraced
and accepted, after being shamed and shut down before, but cannot bring herself
to meet your invitation to bring her groove out. And he is waiting to feel that
someone believes in him and trusts him as capable, but scans for distrust and
hides his adult self. They are all scared to risk having what they have wanted
for so long.
And here it is. Right here, available to you. I have seen
therapy sessions when a person’s partner turns to them and with sincerity tells
them what they have been wanting to hear. And I have seen the person turn away
from it, from this gift freely given. I have to help them to slow down and see
that they can accept it. I help them relax their body so they can feel it. Even
after years of wanting and not getting, they can risk having it now. It is not
too late. They can reach out and take it. This is so vulnerable. It takes
unlearning. We have to put down the armor and the cynicism that have protected
us for so long, saying, “That is a stupid, unrealistic, pathetic thing to want.
Stop believing in it all together. Stop waiting for it, stop hoping.” But that
voice was wrong..
Here is someone offering it to you now. I invite you to stop
and think about the things you want, those deeper things that haunt you and
come out when you are feeling sensitive and unsure. And ask yourself, is it
possible that I am with someone right now who is offering that to me? Is there something
I am doing to not see it, not take it in, actively reject it? Can I admit what
I really want, no matter how simple or vulnerable it may be? Can I let myself
open to this wanting again? I invite you to take the risk.