When Love Comes Knocking

Cranes in the sky is a powerful song which Solange explains; captures feelings of self-doubt, self-pity and a sense of emptiness that most people experience at different stages of their lives. We are taken on a journey of all the things one might do to get rid of these feelings. Things we cut out, habits we start to adopt, all in an attempt to distract ourselves from our pain, but still it lingers on.

“I tried to let go my lover/thought if I was alone then maybe I could recover”

This line from the song sticks out to me because perhaps one of the things we all reach to when we enter a space of healing is to reject love and distance ourselves from relationships. We make ourselves believe that we need to be alone, that healing will only fall into place if we immerse ourselves in deep solitude. Yes, a lot of the work we do happens in isolation, when we take the time to journey through our pain and discover who we our outside of our relationships (many of which we come to learn encourage destructive behaviors and negative feelings about ourselves); but we should not forget that only through love can we heal. This should not solely be restricted to the love we need to nurture ourselves with, but can come from others too.

Sometimes we forget that healing is a journey, one that will look different depending on how far you are. Embracing love, giving yourself to someone and exploring a connection are definitely things that can fit into your healing journey and should not be reserved for a time when you ‘have fixed yourself’ or are ‘perfectly healed’.

So, why do we reject love when we need to heal or enter into a space where we can work on ourselves?

When we are at a low point of our lives, dealing with mental/physical illness or in need of recovery and rehabilitation we often have negative and destruction beliefs about ourselves. We see ourselves as ‘broken’ or may be overwhelmed by our insecurities and ‘messy bits’ that we now have to deal with. This leads us to believe that we are not worthy of love. It's easy to push someone away and say that you need space to work on yourself. What is hard is to admit is that all that you are dealing with has put you in a position where you are finding it difficult to accept and embrace love because you don't think you are worthy or because you are feeling insecure about opening up and letting someone else into your mess. Do not be ashamed of your pain or your burdens. You need to accept all that needs healing in you so that feelings of shame do not stop you from exploring love. You weren't created to be perfect, and someone willing to love you will accept you for all that you are wherever you are on your journey.

Another thing that makes love difficult to embrace when you are healing is the fact that love acts as a mirror. Because healing itself overwhelms you with trauma, pain, insecurities and all that needs to be confronted; being in a relationship and learning more about the good and bad in you through another person may be overwhelming. When you give yourself to someone you give not only the clean and pretty bits, but the rusted, old and broken bits too. The way they respond to the parts of you that aren't perfect sheds a new light on these areas. Having to face the truth of who we are, what we believe, and what we feel and experience scares us, often adding fuel to the fire of all that we were already doing in order to heal, and so we run away. Again, running away is easy, staying, working through things and facing the things you might have missed when you first embarked on your healing journey is difficult. We need to be able to harness our strength so that we can heal not only in the confines of our room, but in the arms of another too.

Lastly, we reject love when we are healing because we don’t want to be the toxic person nor do we want to end up being an emotional burden. If we are not aware of how our pain influences our relationships/partners then it is very easy for this to happen. Love is not a replacement for healing, but rather we should start to embrace the idea of love and healing walking alongside each other. It is perfectly normal to fear that you might start to become dependent on someone or constantly offload your emotional baggage on them. When you are in pain and very vulnerable it is very easy for the comfort and security created by love to become the only thing you hang on to. However, you cannot distract yourself from the work you need to do with this connection and the feelings involved. Balance should come in realizing that there is space for you to be open and honest about your struggles, for you to break down, be held, comforted and guided through tough times within a relationship while still taking responsibility for your wellbeing and doing whatever you need to do in order to progress you on your journey of healing.

We should not forget that sometimes you do need to shut everything down and remove yourself from work, relationships and other commitments so that you can give yourself fully to the healing process. In fact a big part of healing comes from just taking time out and being on your own. Involving yourself in a romantic relationship when you are in desperate need of yourself can definitely be harmful to your recovery. And you need to be able to put a certain connection aside or cut it off if it is hindering you from being able to take care of yourself. (You cannot love another person if you do not love yourself first.) We can all relate to searching for our self with in the often empty, lonely and painful love of others. We grab onto whatever we can because we think that's all we can get. We don't think we deserve better.

The above is a perfect illustration of why it is important for you need to be in the right place. Where in your healing journey I cannot tell you exactly, but you'll know when you have dug yourself out of the depths of the pain and turmoil you were experiencing before. We will all have different markers. It could be after a year of being sober or when your physical health has improved to a certain degree. Often love comes to us when we least expect it. Your first instinct may be to run because you feel as though there is still more work to be done. If that is true then by all means, take the time for yourself and step back from possibly entering a relationship. But don't forget to self examine. We often grapple with fear because we don't realize how far we've come in our healing journey and that we are at the place where we can embrace a relationship. Don't let perfectionism rule your life and cut you off from experiencing the joys of love

That being said, you'll know if a relationship you've embraced is taking away from your ability to continue healing or if it is lifting you up and encouraging growth through love. Make your partner aware of your needs. All the ways you would appreciate them being there for you but don't it is also important to set boundaries because there are certain things you will need to do alone or moments in which you need space to redirect your energy back into healing (especially if the sense of safety and security you're experiencing from the relationship has distracted you from the fact that you still need to take care of some wounds). Communication will be very important. Honesty about what you are both going through, how you are feeling and the limits to the ways in which they can support you. Love is not there to heal you, but can hold your hand while you do the work.

Love makes space for you to heal. Allow yourself to embrace both fully.