I've developed an edge over the years, I am aware of it and acknowledge it. All the loss--not only deaths but the loss of people I trusted and loved and other painful losses--has hardened me to the point where I come out swinging when I shouldn't.
I used to be too soft in some ways. After college graduation, I left South Dakota to head to Europe alone. By this time in my life, I had travelled with my family to most of the 50 states in the US and considered myself to be pretty savvy. I wasn't. I was too soft. My kindness --or naivety-- invited not only mocking from some but also lured predators to me as well.
Over and over again, I rebounded, always with a smile and that attitude of generosity and openness.
Over and over again, I was kicked in the metaphorical teeth.
Now I am edgy. Elusive.
I want to find a balance between being strong and yielding, open yet protected.
I'm seeing that one of the challenges in this new chapter of my life is trusting other people enough to allow them close. In some ways, I miss being open to others. Right off the top of my head, though, I can think of former friends who hurt me so badly that I still get teary-eyed over their actions. People who I loved--and who obviously did not love me back despite years of friendship. It's easy to say, "shrug it off, move on, their loss" or whatever trivial response comes to mind, but it's much harder to forget those betrayals now when I'm meeting new people and starting a new chapter of my life.
Yes, I'm a survivor. I have been through a lot and am truly happy in this new place of mine. But when it comes to opening my heart to new friends or even new acquaintances, I can't quite lower the protective shields.
I have read that trusting others always comes back to how much you trust yourself. Is this true?
I know I can stand strong against the storm and am smart enough to think of solutions to just about any problem that is thrown at me, but I guess when it comes to personal connections I no longer trust my instinct.
I trusted that Sean would fight his addictions to save our family--he killed himself.
I trusted my lifelong friends to stick with me through thick and thin--they just dropped off the face of the earth.
I trusted my church to be my safety net--I was told to find another place to worship when I couldn't contribute enough on Sundays.
I trusted my community where I had volunteered and donated both money and time for two decades to be there when times got tough--I was told they couldn't help me when I hit rock bottom, was told to give up and leave.
I endured. I made it. I thrived in other ways. I did it all alone--so I do trust myself.
Letting others in is something I want to do. I used to be social. When I bought this new house, I envisioned parties here and lots of laughter with new friends. Perhaps it will take time, more time than I envisioned, to be able to trust others again.
I want to. In some ways I'm still that naive 20-something from South Dakota who is looking at the world with hopeful and enthusiastic eyes; but in other ways, I'm a guarded 50 year old who knows what darkness lies in the shadows. I hope to find a balance between the two.
Romancing myself today means loving both my strength and my weakness and accepting that it's okay to be imperfect.
Peace to you!
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, Easton also writes under two pen names--Dakota Skye (erotic paranormal romance thrillers) and Cassidy Springfield (new adult). She also works as a professional editor and creativity coach, takes road trips with her dogs whenever the mood strikes, and advocates for suicide awareness. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.