I remember talking with a long time friend shortly after the separation from my ex-husband. My husband was my first love and I was trying to have hope that I could love like that again.
"Oh no, you won't." she told me, "You will never give your heart like that again. You won't ever be that naive again. Its sad, really."
Those words drained the life from me that day. However I kept my chin up and I kept hoping.
My next major relationship was with Soldier. I was surprised, frankly, at how quickly I did give my heart to him. I thought I proved her wrong!
During that relationship, however, I did notice many times that I would react to something he said or did because of a past experience with my ex-husband. I didn't realize the effect that a failed marriage would have on me. It occurred to me, in fact, that perhaps I wasn't as naive and hopeful as I thought.
After yet another failed relationship, I am attempting love again. I am trying to allow myself to fall madly and completely like I've done before. Perhaps this time I can get it right?
I still find myself reacting. I still overthink. I am still cautious. I am still fearful. It is taking me longer to trust.
I am too frightened to give my heart like I did the first time.
As a matter of fact, I am realizing more than ever that I don't trust my own judgment anymore.
I know I'm reacting to fears from my past. I know that, sadly, I am expecting the same results. I also know that my fear will end up creating the result I am expecting.
I remind myself that everyone is different. I remind myself that the situation is different. I watch myself react. I hear the doubts in my head. And there are the few naysayers warning me that maybe I've got my hopes up yet again... and that maybe I will be let down yet again.
I don't regret my past relationships. I needed them at the time. I have learned from them. It is the pain of those wounds that I am still reacting to. Little bumps and bruises along the path that I don't want to feel again.
I have to allow this to unfold and not project my fear upon it.
Gentleman Jack is not my ex-husband. Jack is not Soldier.
When I married my husband, I thought I'd be married for the rest of my life. Then, I thought Soldier was the one I would marry next. Now, I am in a relationship with a wonderful man and....
This is a man who loves me like I've never been loved before. This is a man who has me in his thoughts all the time and tells me so. This is a man who wants to do whatever I need to bring a smile to my face. This is a man who sees right through any facade I might attempt because he truly wants to know me. This is a man who shares himself completely and deeply with me. This is a man who has children and, when he's around my children, is such a positive, loving figure.
My children adore him. My friends adore him. I adore him.
In fact, I am crazy about him. Yes we are different in many ways. I am still learning to be treated like a lady by the gentleman he is. And yes, he lives a state away.
But I love him so very, very much.
So why am I questioning it? Why am I so frightened? Why don't I feel comfortable completely giving in to these feelings and thoughts of a future together? Is it too early? Am I simply thinking too much? Is this just a place holder for yet another relationship in my future? Am I even able to be in another relationship?
Am I doubting because there's some intuition guiding me that Jack isn't the one? Or am I just frightened? Am I listening to my head instead of my heart? Am I just frustrated because I can't figure out a future with him when our lives are a 3 hours' drive from each other?
Is it even possible to love again, after failed relationships and especially as a single parent, without having a single doubt or worry in your mind?
What do I know?
I've written many times about dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and relationships. My last relationship disintegrated because of PTSD after Soldier came home from war.
Wikipedia describes PTSD as "severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma".
It seems to me that heartbreak can be an "extreme psychological trauma." Wouldn't you agree?
Here I am with the battle wounds of past failed relationships. Here I am with the paranoia that it could happen again at any time....
All this time I've written about PTSD, I never once considered that I too could be suffering from it.