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I am experiencing a series of mental explosions. It’s the coolest thing I could have happen at this point in my life, as unexpected and terrifying as it sometimes can feel.

It started with love. And Bindu Wiles. Though not simultaneously.

See, there’s this woman. I’m head-over-heels for her.

It’s not like this is a secret. In fact, it’s never been a secret, although I tried to convince myself otherwise for many months. Once I finally admitted it to myself, I am certain all those around me breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

I wanted to be my best self for this woman. I wanted to be my truest self. I wanted to be ME. I knew it was the only way I could be in a relationship with the kindest, tenderest, and most real woman I have ever loved.

And yet, I have patterns. I have bad habits. I have some survival mechanisms that have kept me alive in the past, but really serve no benefit anymore. I knew that, if I wanted ANY sort of chance at a healthy adult relationship with this “dream” woman, I needed to work on these things. I needed to grow up.

So I did some work. I did lots of processing, lots of emotional handling, lots of eradication. I restructured my entire mental inventory, my emotional inventory. I cleaned. I scrubbed the floors. I burned and shredded old mental documents.

I got closer to her. We got closer. She let me in, as I let her.

And then I blew it.

One little thing, which I can’t even remember, and I slipped right back into Former Me. Something from my demon past triggered the shift, and all that hard work — which wasn’t all that easy to maintain — crumbled.

And she pulled away.

Which leads me to Bindu, and 21.5.800, a project I entered with zeal and enthusiasm. And then, after a few days of writing and yoga, I started to burble. All those old patterns, those habits and behaviors which cost me the woman of my dreams start to boil to the surface, a slow eruption forcing me to face the truth of the matter.

Which is actually quite simple:

I’ve never been in a healthy, lasting relationship. I don’t (didn’t) believe I deserved to be purely loved. I could not imagine that this woman, who is so real and honest and genuine, would love me. Even when she told me regularly how special I am, how much I am loved, how much she cares.

It was easy for me to let the demons back in. It was easy for me to hear all the bad girlfriends, the bad breakups, the bad feelings from years of failed relationships. I could in NO WAY believe that this woman loved me, because

I didn’t believe I was worthy of real love.

I didn’t love myself.

Wow. Wow.

I always said I loved myself, but I wasn’t acting like it. I was acting out, begging for attention, because I wasn’t paying attention to myself. I wanted so desperately to be present for her, but I wasn’t succeeding because I wasn’t present to my self.

And so I almost lost her. And me.

It’s possible I have lost my chance at a relationship with this wonderful woman. The Universe is full of a million possibilities. What I do know is that my behavior is keeping us apart. What I do know is that I love her more than I have loved another human being, with innocence and purity. I love her unconditionally.

I am unwilling to let my own “bad behavior” and old habits ruin my chances. I am unwilling to stop growing and expanding when it means that I could lose the woman who has loved me more genuinely than any other person on the planet.

This week, I faced one of my greatest demons, a trauma from my past so great it has kept me locked in deep, childish fear for the past 11 years. I stood up and looked that demon in the eyes and said “You’re done. Poof.”

I spent three days hopped up on adrenaline, caffeine and fear. I spent a week crying at night, screaming myself awake from horrendous dreams, lashing out at my housemate, my friends, my cat. I spent two weeks trying to argue my way out of a subpoena.

I spent one night in a dingy motel room.
I spent two hours in a courthouse. 45 minutes in a courtroom.

And then it was over.

It might sound strange, unreal, or cliche, but I believe this is true:
I went into that court room still 14 years old.
I left a 25 year old woman.

In a matter of moments, I grew up. The secrets I lived with for years weren’t secrets any longer. They no longer held my heart in a vise.

I took my first deep breath in over ten years.

The woman I love is out of town for a while. She has stood beside me through this entire trauma, loving me with a guarded heart, calling and texting from across the country. And in this distance, I am taking time to grow. I know it isn’t something that will happen in a week or two. Growing takes time, takes tending, like a young plant trying to bear fruit. But it’s those first few days of watering, feeding, and love that makes all the difference.

I am feeding myself with yoga, with good food, with lots of honest journaling. I am watering my soul with healthy tears, shedding old dead skin, movement from the heart. I am loving myself with dozens of good books, with Fire Starter Sessions, Style Statement, the World-Changing Writing Workshop, with quiet, time spent paddling on the water and biking under an ink-black sky speckled with stars.

I am taking a dose of my own medicine, to take a lesson from Marianne. I can’t remember the number of times I have told friends and loved ones “If you don’t love yourself, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be available for the ones you love.” I’m caring for myself now.

I don’t know if this means I will have a chance with the woman I love. I don’t know if she is willing to give me a chance to love again. What is more important is that I am taking care of myself, loving myself, and creating space in my heart to grow into the amazing, beautiful woman I KNOW I am. I cannot step fully into my future without this self-love.

Future, are you ready for me? Prepare to be blown away and amazed.