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Why I Stopped Making Myself ‘Easier to Love’

Creator:
Published:
December 14, 2023
June 12, 2023
Learning to be vulnerable with others can be a lengthy process, but this author believes it's worth it so people can love the real her.|Have you seen 'The Office' yet? This author learned three things about love from the show.|What is meant by the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Listen to this Spotify playlist we curated for the feast day.|What is meant by the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Listen to this Spotify playlist we curated for the feast day.|Learning to be vulnerable with others can be a lengthy process, but this author believes it's worth it so people can love the real her.

I really, really don’t like to be a burden.

I don’t want to be an inconvenience, to get into other people’s way, to make big waves. So for much of my life, I tried my best to be small. I kept my problems, my insecurities, my fears to myself. I did what I could to make myself easy to love. 

Because what was hiding beneath the surface was sometimes messy, and vulnerable, and I didn’t want to share that with other people. 

I experienced general anxiety and OCD starting from a young age. Anxiety can cause a paradox when it comes to relationships: The anxious person feels alone and isolated, trapped in their own thoughts. Reaching out to others, to share these fears and seek support, can help — knowing someone is on your side to walk with you, even though they can’t take the worry away, can make it feel better. But anxiety lies to us. It tells us that we are needy, annoying, too much — how could others love us if they see all of that? Anxiety is a burden, so opening up about it must share that burden with others. 

And so for much of my life, I hid my anxieties from others. I kept them in a box, doing my best to share only a sunny disposition and do what I could to make myself lovable. I needed the support and love of other people — who doesn’t? — and putting only my best, most ideal self forward was the best way to guarantee that. I was safe, and so was everyone else.

But real love isn’t safe. Truly living isn’t safe, easy, neat. I always craved the deep relationships that come with bearing my soul, but it wasn’t until I encountered C.S. Lewis’s writings in college that I understood what was wrong. 

When I first read The Four Loves for class, I was blown away. C.S. Lewis writes: 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Here I’d been, for years, keeping my heart and my truth in a box. I was so afraid of what would happen when I shared my full self with others, anxieties and all, that I wasn’t opening myself to love at all. I thought I was making it easier to love me. In fact, I wasn’t making it possible to love me at all.

More recently, Lizzo nailed it once again when she sang, “If you love me, you love all of me…or none of me at all.” I wasn’t giving my true, full self to others, inviting them in and allowing them to love me. They couldn’t get close enough to change my heart. If they wanted to love me, they had to love all of me: but I had to be the one to show them all of me. 

Unlocking that box was, and continues to be, terrifying. Like C.S. Lewis said, love is vulnerable. When you open your heart and share your fears with others, you run the risk of rejection and heartbreak. I’ve had relationships torn and broken because friends didn’t understand, or couldn’t support me in the ways I needed. 

But opening myself up to others has also transformed my life, and my heart. I have felt true, lasting, real love and support. I have known what it means for family and friends to love all of me, and I have been validated in who I am — and who I am certainly includes my quirks and neuroses. 

Being vulnerable is a choice we have to make every day. It’s still easy to hide away the ugly parts of me, to put out a façade that’s simple and easy to like. But I’m no longer in the business of being liked for who I am not.

I’m ready to be loved, deeply, truly, for who I am.

Creators:
Molly Cruitt
Published:
December 14, 2023
June 12, 2023
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