Have you let go of the past? Did you know that you can’t possibly fall in love again until you have? And I don’t mean like you’re no longer waiting for him to call, you’ve erased his number and you’re going on dates with other men and getting your groove back. I think a lot of times we think we’ve moved on only to struggle in dating and relationships and we can’t figure out why. I remember how proud I was when I thought I had moved on from my relationships in the past. I felt so strong and that no man could ever get in my way again. That’s what being a strong and independent woman is all about, right? That’s how we all want to feel, like there isn’t a man out there that can break our heart, right? Wrong.
Even though I had moved on from my ex’s physically, I never realized I still had a very strong emotional attachment to some of them that was keeping me from finding the love that I’m worth. But it goes deeper. These emotional attachments were keeping me from believing in the love I deserve. I still had my ex’s numbers in my phone, I would still wonder from time to time when I would hear from them and when I would hear from them wanting to see me, I would reason that I was over them but that I could still enjoy their company. So I would continue to see them on our “not date” dates that would turn into romantic evenings and even last minute vacations. I would have a great time with them, completely open my heart to them and when it was time to leave, I would leave with no promise to see them again and I felt okay with that. But even though I thought I was able to separate the ties, I realize now that I always had expectations to see them again. Oh and yes, I was seeing 3 of my ex’s at one time and no, none of them knew about each other.
Then one night my friend asked why I was still single. “You’re beautiful, smart, adventurous, driven and so easy to be around”, he said. I wanted to give him the obvious answer that always pumps up my confidence and tell him that I just haven’t found anyone who can convince me to settle yet. But I simply told him that I don’t know why. Later when I was alone, I found myself wondering how it is that I am still single. I really thought long and hard and I realized that something unresolved in me was being covered up by my convincing myself that I’m so worthy that most men don’t deserve me and so I’ll just continue to go through them like I do my jars of peanut butter (my favorite addiction). Convincing myself that there aren’t any men worthy of me is just an excuse I’d been using to cover up my real problem. But what was my problem? Then my thoughts went to my past relationships and BINGO! That is where my answer was. I hadn’t let go of my past yet. It was obvious as I thought about how I still had at least 3 of my ex’s phone numbers saved and I was still seeing them. They felt safe to me and familiar. There had been nights where after leaving an awful date, I’d run to one of them to vent. I would still get the “Happy Valentine’s Day. What are you up to?” texts from them on February 14th every year. How could I possibly move on when I was still hanging on to these men? What’s more is that I have been writing about love and moving on and finding love again and here I was the perfect example of what I write about. Well it was time to take my own advice.
Why do we hang on to our past? I knew I needed to first understand why I was still hanging onto my past relationships. It’s not that I wanted to be with any of these men again but there was something they provided that I needed to make myself consciously aware of. I put a lot of soul searching into this but to make a long story short, these men provided me with familiarity. That was my safety net. I always knew what to expect from them and in being able to predict what would happen with them, I could keep from getting hurt. I knew that I would never have to worry about them wanting an emotional relationship but I could revel in their attention and affection without having to worry about letting them get too close. It’s like a drug addiction. You enjoy the high you get from it and all the while you’re in such denial that you don’t even see how it’s damaging you. In short, we hang onto our past because it feels safer than moving on to something unknown.
What do you really want? I was so thankful for being strong enough to make myself consciously aware of all this. Of the fact that I haven’t been able to find love again because I haven’t let go of my past. Being aware of this issue allowed me to realize what I really do want. I needed to be clear on what I do want. I want to be independent of my relationships in the past, I want to be able to let my past go, I want to be able to open my heart to a man who truly deserves it and most importantly I want to be happy and grateful for every present moment in my life from here on out. I never again want to feel like I need someone to be happy but I don’t want to be so guarded that I can’t share my life with someone. I thought long and hard about what I want and I realized that I had been afraid to allow these things in my life because I didn’t honestly think I could get them and this was keeping me from having what I really want. It was time to have faith in myself and trust that I can have these things. It was time to start letting go of my past.
Letting go of the past. Letting go doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to be very aware of how you’re feeling. Thinking about one of the men in my past that I was still hanging onto, I felt a sense of emptiness. I thought it was because maybe I really did want him back and if I held on long enough, he’d come back. But really what it was; was that I had grown out of deserving him. I deserve so much more and that emptiness I was feeling was my knowing that what he could offer was no longer good enough for me. That I was selling myself short. I had to trust myself in this and I had to believe in myself that what I felt in my heart was the path I needed to take.
The first thing I did was to delete all of my ex’s phone numbers. It was such a relief to do so! Just that one small step empowered me. It felt like I was cutting the strings that were keeping me attached to a sinking boat.
Next, I knew that I needed to work on being happy and secure by myself. I needed to spend some time alone and be happy with being alone. Not just be happy but I also needed to trust myself in being alone and trust that I can be happy with being alone. So for the next few weeks, I spent a lot of time doing things by myself. I let myself find joy in the little things such as folding laundry on a Saturday night when I could be out with other people. I’d turn up the music and sing my heart out and all of a sudden laundry became fun. The point is that I could find joy in being alone. I am happy with my life right now independent of anyone. I actively practiced not thinking about the past. Every time I would start to think about one of my ex’s or wonder when I’d hear from them again, I would redirect my thoughts to something happening now such as my excitement for starting grad school or my cat scratching at the door.
You have to be happy with your life now and trust that you are all you need to be happy and fulfilled before you can move on without hanging onto the past. But once you get there, you realize that the past is just a path that prepares you for finding what you really deserve. But you can’t move ahead while you’re looking back.
Allowing right now. After spending some time just being by myself and learning to enjoy my life free from my past, I decided it was time to direct my attention to allowing others into my life without influence from my past. You see what was keeping me single was that I was subconsciously looking for an exact match of one of my ex’s and I wasn’t allowing anyone to get close to me. You can’t possibly form any emotional connections this way.
I started to date again and I really worked on just being present and in the moment. I reminded myself that I deserve true love and that to find it; I had to be open to feeling before thinking. Such as when I would be on a date with a new guy, I had to allow this experience to make me feel before I could judge what I was feeling. Our feelings, free of our conscious judgement are a true indicator of what we want. If you find yourself unexpectedly smiling or you feel butterflies, then what is happening is what you want! But before I was judging and comparing these men with my ex’s before I could allow what I was feeling to surface. It takes practice to trust your feelings but when you can stay present in the moment and allow yourself to feel, you can find that life’s experiences have so much more to offer you when you let your guard down.
I think for the first time in my life, I was authentic and my feelings matched my actions. There was no pressure in what I was doing and dating became so much more exciting and enjoyable. It seemed as though my experiences were more authentic and men could feel that my heart was open and my guard was down. They were doing things for me that I haven’t had a man do in a long time such as cooking for me. My guard is down and being open to my present life allows for real connections and this attracts men who want to do things that make not just any woman happy but that make me happy.
When you hang onto your past, that’s where your heart is and if your heart is stuck in your past you can’t let in right now. Right now is where the possibility of finding love is but only if you allow it. I hear so many women whine about how they’ll never find anyone. It’s because they’re stuck in their past experiences but the only hold your past has on your life right now is that it has brought you to and prepared you for this moment. It hasn’t made you weaker. It’s made you stronger and more worthy than ever. So cut your past free and open your heart to now. Love is waiting for you to believe in it.