Permission to Love

It took a long time after my dad was deported for me to stop looking over my shoulder. I just didn’t believe that he was really gone.  In this state of wanting to open up and allow myself to develop normal relationships, I had to stop looking back.  I had to believe that he was gone and I was safe and to allow people into my life. In trying to be more authentic, I realized that I didn’t even know what that was.  I wanted to open up but didn’t want to get hurt. I couldn’t have it both ways.  I knew it but didn’t know how to make that shift.  I didn’t even know how to love myself. How would anyone else love me if I didn’t believe that I was worth it?  After a lot of counseling, I could see that I was worth getting to know and that it was my responsibility to allow others to be my friend.  Ultimately I had to take the chance that I could be hurt and that it was ok.  In recognizing that I valued myself enough to survive my years of abuse; I also recognized that I was worth getting to know.  I gave myself permission to do what I was always forbidden to do – talk about who I am and actually show that I liked who I was.

I wanted to feel the joy of being spontaneous.  I had always tried to control the variables in my life. I had to give myself permission to accept that people could be trusted. I started to consciously put out tidbits of information about myself in conversation.  Baby steps.  In time, I started putting my opinion into discussions.  It was hard at first. I was so used to being evasive and  not giving specific details about me that I thought there would be some sort of reaction when I exposed my thoughts and feelings.  Well, there was a reaction. It turned out that I could smile and actually feel that I was happy.  Typically, as a kid, smiling was a face I made. It was what I was supposed to do to be polite and make our family look happy.  I found myself having conversations without thinking ahead about what I was supposed to say.  I was relaxed when I spoke.  I found out I was funny. I was making friends. I was laughing and being invited to hang out with them.  The best part was that I could accept the invitations.  I didn’t have to make up lame excuses as to why I wasn’t going out.  I used to stay home in my safe, little world. I couldn’t get hurt there but I wasn’t having any fun either. I gave myself permission to have FUN.

Looking back now I realize that I have been able to use the strength I needed to survive to help me heal too.  The strength it took to stand up and charge my abuser was used to allow myself to risk getting hurt in love or friendship.  I found that the joy of connecting with people made any of the disappointments very manageable.  Happiness trumps being emotionally numb.  It sounds like a really obvious things to conclude but, there was a time in my life when you would never have convinced me that it was true.  I’ve come a long way, baby.