you & me

Love Letter to the Tired and Lonely.

 

Dear tired and lonely human,
I see you.

I see your big life.
I see your small life.
I see all of the creative ways you also try to hide the ego wound inside.

The wound that activates the overwhelming fear and shame from long ago experiences that taught you that you are not lovable, not worthy, too much, not enough.

The wound that works so hard to remind you of the danger in being loved or seen, whether you’re introverted or extroverted.

The wound that taught you to perform for people’s love. To chase. To run.
To dance in the frustration of push/pull relationship dynamics.

The wound that convinces you that being validated means seeking yourself in others.

The wound that dictates that love means rescuing or being rescued. Because simply being loved and accepted for who you are, without performing or over-giving, is hard to accept.

That easy, healthy love is something to aspire to because you can’t seem to find it. And if at last you do, you tell yourself that you won’t keep it. Or you wait for them to leave. Because you don’t believe that it was meant for you. You don’t trust it.

“Surely this must be a mistake?” the wound tells you. “This person who loves me deserves better. They don’t understand that I don’t deserve them. Something is wrong. I must work hard to let them know that something is wrong.”

And so maybe you push away the very thing your heart longs for. Or you choose people who do this to you. You might not know that’s why they do this. Or why you keep being rejected. But the wound knows.

Maybe the wound keeps you in relationships you are afraid to leave. Because you don’t know who you are without another.

Or maybe the wound has worked hard to keep you alone. Always on the sidelines. Waiting until next year, next month, when you’re in better shape, when you have it more together, to seek a partner. To seek friends. To seek connection.

The wound subconsciously controls everything.

This wound that burrowed deep into your heart and crocheted a gossamer cage around your truth. It decides. For some, it’s quiet. For others, it’s all-encompassing. But the wound works tirelessly to question if this is safe, if they are safe, if you are safe.

The wound tries so hard to protect you, even when you have found exactly what you want and then find yourself dismantling it, pushing it away, questioning it, questioning yourself. Then you stand back in shame and anguish and ask, “What have I done?”

The wound that works against you in self-sabotage and self-protection.

The wound that tells you that being popular means you are good enough. More likes, more followers, more attention. It craves this as confirmation that you are good enough. It pushes you to inflate yourself because you feel small.

Or maybe you don’t want to be popular. You feel invisible instead.

The wound that thinks it’s safer to just be alone. To isolate. To do nothing and feel guilty about doing nothing. To lose yourself in the minutiae. To lose yourself in fantasy or magical thinking.

To lose yourself to addiction or vices. Alcohol, excessive working out, drugs, sex, porn, over-spending, shopping, self-help, video games, television. Anything to stay small, numb the pain, and distract yourself.

Or the anxiety that tells you to keep busy, to never sit down long enough to self-reflect. Chronic overworking, overthinking, over-achievement, over-involvement, overdoing for others, beating yourself up mercilessly, which masks the pain of inadequacy. Anything to block the fear of the very connection you so want to cultivate.

Dear tired and lonely human,
I see you.

I see you because I am you.

I know the twisted knots of anxiety that form around my own wound.

The fear of being abandoned or rejected. Of being misunderstood. Of not being chosen. Of being too much. Of not being enough.

Maybe like me, on the outside you are confident, a go-getter, a helper. Maybe you have created the life you always wanted, but you have a hard time believing you deserve the very things you are skilled at manifesting and creating for yourself. So you feel more comfortable underachieving. Never quite reaching the finish line, although others think you’ve got it all figured out.

Inside, you are terrified of succeeding. Because succeeding means you might actually be okay. You might actually be seen and heard. Or it might take the spotlight from someone else. Someone who controlled you to play small as a child. Someone you were afraid of. Someone you are still afraid to disappoint. So you hold yourself back, and feel frustrated and lonely.

Maybe like me, you didn’t feel loved and accepted as a child. Maybe there was mental illness and addiction in your family, so you weren’t protected. Maybe as a child, you had to parent yourself, so as an adult, you find it hard to let others in.

Maybe you were told you were selfish for having needs and feelings, and you worked hard to get praise but instead were told you would never succeed. That you would never be good enough. So you over-empathize and love others more than you love yourself because you were never taught that you were lovable. You give too much while holding back parts of yourself.

You shut down and deflect praise and compliments. You have a hard time knowing when someone is being genuine, so you assume they are not, which isolates you.

Maybe you were physically, emotionally or sexually assaulted and the trauma of this has shut you down. Afraid of deep connection. Afraid to be vulnerable. Maybe you let yourself be vulnerable after healing and were hurt again. So the idea of ever opening up again is terrifying.

Maybe you’ve spent your whole life fighting against gaslighting, scapegoating, racism, homophobia, sexism, religious persecution and abuse.

Maybe you were told repeatedly that you were too much, too sensitive, that everything was your fault. That whom you love must be accepted in the eyes of God. That you must be conventional or face being disappointing. That being gay was a sin, so you hid your sexuality or are still afraid to embrace it.

Maybe the way people treated you for the color of your skin taught you that you aren’t acceptable as you are, that hate is normal. Or the shape of your body taught you to self-loathe.

Maybe you were hurt, violated or betrayed by the very people who were supposed to protect you. Maybe they still do it, and you are ashamed and alone in this cycle.

Maybe you never felt accepted by or connected to your family.

Maybe you were bullied at home. Maybe you were bullied outside of the home too. Maybe this chronic lack of acceptance for who you are at your core made you believe that you don’t belong. That you don’t have a place.

So this lifelong loneliness comes from chronic perfectionism. From trying to be seen and accepted as the good girl or good boy you wanted your tormentors to see. To be loved. To be understood. To be accepted. Exactly as you are. But they couldn’t see this.

So your wound creates experiences that simply reinforce the confusing belief that you deserve to be lonely and misunderstood, even when you are being celebrated. Even when you are being loved. “Love is for others, not for me,” you tell yourself. And to feel safe, you have spent your whole life trying to be seen and loved outside of yourself, because you were taught to self-abandon in order to please others.

But this subconsciously drives you to choose people and experiences that reject you. Because you don’t know what it feels like to be chosen. You are drawn to abusive relationships, or life experiences that keep you in self-doubt, self-rejection. Maybe you bully others because you don’t know how to ask for love. Or you withhold from and bully yourself, which keeps you from healthy outside connections.

Maybe you are so afraid of losing control, you push others away. You learned that love was coercive, manipulative, aggressive and painful, so you look for problems, you feel safer in conflict. You don’t recognize healthy attention. You run from it. And this keeps the abandonment/rejection wound alive.

Maybe you were celebrated as a child. Or maybe you were given too much praise, too much attention, that you don’t know who you are without it.

Maybe you were held to such high standards that you are afraid to fail. To get it wrong. Maybe you equate love with the need to succeed. To never fail. Maybe you don’t feel worthy unless others are proud of you. Maybe you control how others see you, through your achievements.

Maybe you don’t know how to stop performing because you are afraid that people will see the ‘real you’. The one the wound convinces you is not enough. So your loneliness sets you apart from others. Maybe it’s just easier to believe that others don’t get you. So you overachieve and use workaholism or the need to be the provider as a self-defense mechanism.

Maybe a parent leaned on you too much. Had unhealthy boundaries. Enmeshed with you. Manipulated you. So love and intimacy feels suffocating and unsafe. You so desperately crave it with someone, but when they give it, the wound encourages you to run.

Maybe a parent left as a child. So love is equated with people leaving. Perhaps your wound drives you to leave before you are left. Or you cling too hard, afraid to be rejected. Maybe you look for the parent who left you in your partner, and feel ashamed and confused by how you treat them.

Maybe you are terrified of being alone, and stay in relationships that don’t fulfill you.

Maybe you are tired of being single, but are afraid of being hurt again.

Maybe you see yourself in all of this, some of it, or none of it.

Maybe you were meant to read this because you are ready to go inside and sit with your own wound.

Maybe you are tired of the loneliness, and want to connect to your own life on a deeper level.

Maybe you are scared that you will feel this abstract loneliness forever.

Dear tired and lonely human,
I see you.

I am you.

We all deserve to feel vital and connected. Loved and safe. Seen and heard. We deserve to feel like we belong.

But when we love from our wound, we will always be asking too much of others. We will always be asking them to give us something that only we can provide for ourselves.

Perhaps you are lucky, and have found someone who accepts you as you are. Someone who enjoys you, and whom you enjoy.

Perhaps you have acceptance of one another, in good times and bad. Someone who is willing and able to sit in the discomfort of conflict, in miscommunication, and take self-responsibility. Someone who doesn’t try to change you, but instead changes themselves to better meet you. Perhaps you are doing this for them too. Or perhaps you recognize that you would like to be able to offer them this.

Perhaps you want this type of connection, but are cognizant of how your own wounds drive you and are doing the inner work for yourself, before you try to meet another in their wounded space.

Or perhaps you are genuinely happy on your own, without a partner, but recognize areas where you would like to better connect to yourself and others.

Wherever you are, you deserve to feel like you belong somewhere.

Feeling emotionally alone stems from earlier trauma, which is where the wound is formed. When these feelings come up for me now, I try to remind myself, “This is just the wound.” I have learned to recognize the difference between fact and feeling, which my active wounded self did not understand. I don’t always get it right, but I am less reactive and more able to sit with myself now.

I know my ego wound intimately. I have spent the last four years journeying into this shadow aspect of myself, and have accepted that I will never get rid of it. While it no longer controls me subconsciously, it still has the power to derail me. I am learning to navigate it and get on the other side of its self-sabotaging, self-protective messages.

I understand that attachment trauma lives in this space, and until I began healing this aspect, I would subconsciously draw in people and experiences that asked me to be wounded in rejection or abandonment of myself. I was insecure and frightened.

I have learned that self-love and self-acceptance are more important than what I perceive others think of me. When I became conscious of the unhealthy practice of self-abandoning, I met myself for the first time, and recognized a great deal of what I wrote above as my own painful experience of the world.

I would never have accepted this in myself from my reactive wounded state. But self-parenting, and learning to love the good girl who desperately wanted someone to validate her existence, has opened me up to a different way of living and loving.

I have learned that healthy relationships only work when I disconnect from seeking validation. We are all programmed to living life through the lens of our own wounds, so when we choose to go inside and stop looking for others to hold our difficult feelings, we learn to self-soothe, which leads to self-empowerment. This is a difficult journey, but a worthwhile one.

As Robert Brault said, “Life gets easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.”

Forgiveness and compassion for ourselves and others gets easier when we feel safe enough to leave the victim space and allow the grace of healing to free us from these early wounds that drive us. That being said, some abuses cannot be forgiven. This, I have learned, is fine too. I will not allow others to shame me into forgiving before I am ready, willing or able to. And I forgive myself for that.

I forgive myself for unknowingly inflicting hurts on others. I accept that just as I am working from the only knowledge I have available at any given time, other people are too.

Our wounds sometimes drive us to enormous lengths to self-protect, but oftentimes they hurt innocent people. For that, we must ask for their forgiveness, just as we would feel comforted by a sincere apology from someone who hurt us. We all change and grow, and I hope connection wounds can heal with healthy communication and offer closure.

On the flip side, I have learned to set healthy boundaries around those who never apologize and who are not committed to self-accountability. Healthy self-protection comes from knowing your own worth. Letting toxic people go is a form of self-love. This includes letting go of toxic versions of ourselves. Wounded or not, we can always be better.

Looking back, the loneliest I ever felt was when I was living in the past. This is where the ego wounds keep us. But I grew exhausted from looking back, from looking outside of myself. From carrying trauma. From holding grudges. From expecting others to see my wounds, hold me in them, and then blaming them when they couldn’t.

Our emotional intelligence systems magnetize the people and experiences that we need to heal our most sacred wounding. When we are ready, we recognize the ones who hurt us as teachers and we understand their lessons. But we must first be courageous in recognizing ourselves. We must take ownership.

When we can do this, we will belong to ourselves. We will find our place.

Dear tired and lonely human,
I see you, and I love you for trying so hard to figure this out with me.

***

Elle Newlands is a hybrid, which makes her complicated, but she is okay with that. An actress, photographer and writer, she spends her days juggling characters, words and pictures. Originally from Scotland, she is currently enjoying the sunshine of California, where she hikes with her dog, rides her horse in the mountains and talks to nature. You could contact her via Facebook or Instagram.

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