Author -- Giordana Toccaceli
If you are reading this I imagine you are a woman who despite it all is searching and longing for real, passionate love in her life.
Your heart has travelled through the ups and downs of life and despite experiences that might have pointed to everything but love, there is still a very real, deep longing inside of you for the right man to come along or to deepen in relationship with the man you are with.
I want to take a moment to say that...this is a beautiful thing. I also want to tell you that this is a divine impulse in your heart...
-and that it is absolutely possible for you to find, create and have the love of your dreams.
However the journey there requires a few things of us.
Each of us grew up in a home where in one way or another we were taught about relationship through what we saw modeled. Your home also taught you in one way or another about men and as you grew up, over the years, you kept accumulating experiences with men...and these experiences kept reinforcing beliefs or creating new ones.
At some point in life many women go from this trusting, soft, innocence to becoming hardened and suspicious of love.
This is a subject that has come up recently with many of my amazing clients, from a young girl just beginning to show early signs of hardening to a gorgeous full blown woman in her 30s, with a pattern of men leaving because she is unable to open up.
Somewhere along the line we accumulated unprocessed heartbreak, misunderstood rejection, feelings of separation, abandonments, abuse, trauma, neglect or lack of interest from men (both romantic and non-romantic) as opposed to processing and releasing it. This has created within many of us a distrust of love where we feel chronically unsafe and unwanted and so we harden:
"I don't trust people easily."
"I won't let anyone in again, because they will probably just leave."
"I will never let a man near my heart again."
"All men cheat."
"Men are ______, _______ and _______" (insert painful judgements about men).
"I don't need a man."
"I am better off alone."
Sound familiar, beautiful?
We become more reactive and easily triggered, instead of calm and responsive.
We become less compassionate with ourselves and our partners.
We become less and less vulnerable, soft and connective, not showing who we truly are.
We become harder to make happy and our default energy begins to become more depressed, less alive.
We become more complicated, instead of easy-going.
We become more controlling of how we show up instead of more real and authentic.
We say we want love but our actions show that we actually push it away and hold love at arm's length every chance we get.
And as much as we think we are showing up feminine, soft and welcoming...and so "relationship material," we wear a thick shell.
And then it happens again and again... a man shows up, we fall for him, we may begin to date and we allow ourselves to be carried by the beauty of the honeymoon period...but when the time comes for real love to show up from within us to carry our part of the relationship, we show up with hardness, invulnerability and self-protection...we essentially don't show up.
We haven't learned how to work through pain in a way that connects us to our partner, as opposed to separating us from him.
I feel so much compassion for women who have felt themselves harden and may not even be aware of it, because I have been that woman. The idea of becoming soft felt weak to me, the idea of femininity felt disempowering and yet there was a cost to my hardness which was usually being paid by my partners,as well as myself.
Now I am not saying that you have to pretend to be soft when you have had tremendous pain in your life or that you don't have a right to self-protect. I am a huge proponent of seeing the pain, validating the wrong-doing and grieving it. I am also a huge advocate of strong and wise boundaries.
What I am saying is that most of the time the way we have processed our pain has left us worse off, repeating painful patterns that destroy love instead of taking us in to it. We live constantly in fight or flight, reactive and ready to push our beloved away.
One of the biggest myths being taught today is that to be an empowered and independent woman means not needing men... means being hard.
Vulnerability is absolutely needed for intimacy- and intimacy is the very lifeblood of a relationship. Intimacy is that sense of home in the other we all long for. Hardening and self protecting the wrong way will only separate us from love.
So often the way the body heals reminds me of the way the soul heals. For example, sometimes when our body is wounded, it does not heal properly and forms scar tissue.
Scar tissue is a way in which our body tries to protect itself by covering over the wound with an impenetrable layer. The problem is scar tissue will also block out new skin cells from coming in and healing the area, leaving behind a big, uneven, isolated, scar. Scar tissue can then begin wreaking havoc on our health, leaving doctors to resort to surgery to cut through it in order to bring healing.
When our hearts are wounded, if we don't know how to process and heal properly, we can form emotional scar tissue which then deeply affects, sabotages and destroys love in the future.
And scar tissue will almost always form around these wounds, if we haven't learned how to heal them properly:
- "I'm not good enough."
- "I'm unworthy of love."
- "I feel so much shame around my body."
- "If I show him my emotions, he will definitely leave me."
- "I will be abandoned and end up alone."
So when a moment comes when we feel unloved by our partner, even if our partner did nothing to cause it, we harden towards his heart: we withdraw, reject, punish, push away. We shame when we feel shamed. We self-protect by using anger and rejection instead of vulnerability, communication and boundaries...
Life can have very hard moments and it can be easy and "natural" to harden, but the truth is softness is required for love. It was a long journey to surrender the power that made me feel safe through hardness, in order to grow into real safety within myself.
To have a relationship means being absolutely willing to surrender to old ways of self-protecting and learning how to really love.
When we leave our hardness un-dealt with, we can make it very hard on our men. We subconsciously expect them to carry this hardness and unhappiness as proof of their love and we justify it by how much we "give to them." This ladies, is how so many relationships are destroyed.
This is why with all the male clients I have had seemed to be concerned with this question when it came to women:
"Can I make her happy?"
In other words, "Has she learned how to handle life in an emotionally constructive way or will I carry all of her emotional burdens?"
They will really feel you out before committing to see if you are already making yourself happy, to see how soft you are internally, while also gaging how much you value yourself.
Choose to be intentional about becoming emotionally healthy, about learning how to create happiness in your life, and how to go to vulnerability, strength and softnesswhen pain arises in your relationship. If you don't know how, invest and learn- your relationship depends on this.
Today I want to speak words of compassion to you if life has hardened you, has chipped away at your trust in others (and men) or perhaps crushed it...and if finding your way back to love inside feels so foreign, scary and uncertain.
I want to say that although many things should have never happened to you and although you probably did not have the support you needed to get through these wounds, that softening your heart is the most beautiful place you can be in relationship and that reclaiming your soul as a feminine woman who is be able to inspire love and devotion long-term is your birthright.