So, you might remember my last post about my history of infatuations with unavailable men. And I ended that post by saying that I was going to finally – for the first time in my life – confront my current infatuation and tell them my true feelings.
Turns out, when I did that, I could never have predicted what happened next.
A good friend of mine asked me a helpful question recently: “What do you get from an infatuation? Why have one?”
It was hard to answer.
I concluded an infatuation allows you to fantasise and disconnect from reality. This then means you don’t really have to deal with your broken relationships, fears for the future, worries about work, mortgages, marriage and health. When you partner with fantasy above reality, it’s a form of escapism from the trappings of normal, mundane life. But like any escapism – food, TV, porn – it actually traps you into something else.
Secondly, I think infatuations have such a hold on us because they are led, anchored and covered in shame. Shame of unrequited feelings. Shame caused by rejection. Shame of being single and not wanting to be. Shame of loneliness. Shame tells us we are simply not enough, that we are not worthy of love and pursuit. Shame tells us we’re better off in hiding.
But the irony was, that for me to overcome shame, I had to get out of hiding. I had to air what was going on for me – and when I did, I brought what had been in the darkness into the light. And the darkness could no longer have a hold on me.
Cut to the scene of one South London café, waiting for my infatuation to arrive – and in he comes.
I notice my calmness. It feels powerful. I feel strong actually, despite facing into my weakness for the first time. Weird how embracing weakness kinda makes you even more kickass – ode to Brene Brown.
We make some chit-chat, and I know the time has come.
So I air it out. I bring what’s been hidden, what’s caused me endless anxiety, shame and fear, to the surface.
He listens. I can’t read his response.
But I realise as I say it that I’m not saying it for him. I’m saying it for 12-year-old me. The pre-teen who learned to embrace self-improvement over honesty, secret over truth and head over heart. I’m letting her affection for John, Tom, Luke, Michael and Gareth come into the light at the same time. And in the cold light of day, the shame of feelings and fantasy give way to what’s real.
He thanks me for my honesty, and bravery. And he’s honest too: that he’s never seen me that way nor does he now. And surprisingly, because I’ve already kicked shame off, shame doesn’t get me now.
I feel no rejection, just lightness. It’s laughable really, how we build things up in our head. The moment I had dreaded, the moment of hearing a “no”, actually wasn’t too bad after all. Because actually I know, despite a temporary “no”, that I am worthy of a huge, forever YES.
In fact, I already have said “yes” to my heart by sharing what’s within it and letting it know it is worth listening to.
So, you may relate to some of my story. Or you may think I am a MAD WOMAN. And both are OK.
But if you relate, here’s some simple advice as a woman who’s been there on the journey of unrequited love:
- Listen to your heart – and take quick action! So many of my infatuations could have been prevented by one small question… would you like to have a coffee? Remember, what feeds infatuation is fantasy. So pull your crush into reality as quickly as possible and get to know them, warts and all. Then you’ll see if you have something that might last or not. Some of us might have this idea of pursuit and princes and horses, but let’s face it: you are asking them for a coffee, not their hand in marriage. Unlike my story, don’t let your pride get in the way of your freedom.
- Anchor yourself in God. He is our ultimate YES. We cannot be rejected when we remain in Him. So you can meet your crush knowing you have a neon YES sign over your head already.
- Don’t search for the one, BE the one. All the time we spend in the fantasy of infatuation, we are actually wasting in time not living life. There’s stuff to be done, people to meet, lives to change. Let’s not waste our lives waiting, hoping and dreaming of things that are simply not real. Let’s be the real, powerful people we’ve been made to be. Seek first the kingdom and everything else – EVERYTHING ELSE – will follow.
- Be kind to yourself. One of the reasons shame had such a hold was that I felt such incredible guilt throughout my journey. Actually, there is always a seed of truth behind how we feel; and it gives you a clue to the desires that God placed in your heart. Accepting and loving yourself within this is one of the best ways you can release yourself from this sense of guilt and shame.
- Get real with God in the present. I realised that my infatuations have been a comfort blanket: a disconnect from my busy, hectic, sometimes overwhelming life. Actually, God is designed as the best comfort we could imagine. And he wants to connect with us now. He is not unavailable. He doesn’t have avoidant issues. He’s not ‘hard to get’. My biggest learning is that all along He wanted to connect with pre-teen me – but instead I chose a route of self-comfort through personal improvement and striving to get attention. What I would do now, if I could go back to 12-year-old me, is tell her that all along she’s had the attention of someone. And he’s brave and strong and awesome and He’s God. No matter what, we have His attention. Since the beginning and for always.
What do you think about Anon’s story? Have you had a similar experience? Let her know in the comments.