Valentines Day 2017

To be soft.
In a world that is hard.
In a world that will shake you to your core and leave you a shell of a person, in tatters.

For someone who has survived severe trauma this sounds like an impossible task. It feels like exposing every major artery after almost bleeding out, once before. I never fully understood the gravity of this, the sheer ridiculous faith one must have in order to wholeheartedly try at love again, until now.

But before I continue, let me clarify the use of the word “soft”. I don’t mean “to be weak”. For so long that’s what I thought it meant. I believed I needed to be hard to keep myself safe. This is a trap. If we all went through life with our shields up, how would we ever really see or get close to one another? By “soft” I mean open, trusting, vulnerable. I mean not to fight for a “safe distance” in a relationship while simultaneously wanting to feel close to someone. It’s like a porcupine. Sure, they’ve got a back side full of needles, but their tummies are so soft and warm. There is no feat of bravery in showing your quills. Courage is rolling over and showing your soft side to the one you love.

And so I have taken the leap and tried at love again. Truth be told, at first I was waiting for disaster, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for yet another disappointment. My life experiences trained me to expect this. After leaving my abusive ex husband, I had had other tries before. They ended in heartbreak, like the slow removal of a bandaid that never had the chance to heal anything at all. In fact, I learned more about what I don’t want from a partner than what I do want. What I didn’t realize at the time but I do now, is that I wasn’t showing up in those relationships 100%. It didn’t matter what the other person did or didn’t do (not to dismiss their bad behavior), I wasn’t being my authentic self. I didn’t even know who that was. I had become so attached to my armor that I became it. I was a “take me or leave me” girl, and I set it up so that I’d be unfazed if they left. That is not love for anyone involved.

Now I realize the importance of give and take, compromise, communication, trust, honesty and vulnerability. I have taken the leap. I showed my soft side to the most amazing man I’ve ever met. This after four years of attending a weekly domestic violence support group, becoming a trained counselor and still going to one on one therapy every week, to this day. So yes, I put in the work to learn about choosing to surround myself with healthier people. I’ll always still be learning. But I know this, I have a wonderful friend and partner by my side. He taught me what it feels like to truly be loved. He’s my person. He’s someone I can learn with, grow with and tell the truth to without being judged. And the most beautiful feeling of all; I can trust him with my soft side knowing he’d never intentionally hurt me. It’s not easy. We make mistakes, we fumble, we flounder at times. It takes work. We’re not perfect and we both know it. But I think we’ve grown to love that about each other, and in the process I think we’ve grown to love that about ourselves.

There is no such thing as fantastic reward without fantastic effort and fantastic faith. To me, the most real, down to earth, splendidly simple kind of love that I have found is the most fantastic reward of all.

As always, thanks for reading!
Love, Light & Blessings

~Sarah Gallardo
To S.B.

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