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Running On Empty

Updated: Jan 23, 2022

I don’t know about you but I’m my own worst enemy sometimes. I overthink, analyse, I sometimes don’t think at all. I muse and dream and conjure up ideas in my head. Sometimes they’re of writing an amazing story that will take me out of the humdrum and monotony of life. Sometimes I think I want to go back to a time when I had a job in an office, or I just dream of owning my own house with a small garden, where I can grow my own vegetables and flowers. Each dream is a snippet of something I have touched on at some point in my life. I’ve never owned my own house, but I have had a vegetable patch, which I got so much enjoyment from, but as my relationships and marriages failed, I lost the garden, lost the status, lost the identity which I thought was what society presented to me as normal. I had it in my head from an early age that if I didn’t marry then I wasn’t normal. That there was something wrong with me. That there was nothing I had to offer and I wasn’t a ‘good catch.

When I was a young girl I wanted to be a princess, I loved Cinderella and willed myself a prince. He was a knight in shining armour, he came and rescued me and we lived happily ever after. I loved reading and in my teens I thrived on Barbara Cartland novels, the same old story of a damsel in distress, an unwilling suitor steps in to save the day. The hero fights his heart but wantonly takes the woman in his arms and gives into the overwhelming attraction and inevitably lust turns into love and the heroine submits to his physical prowess. The crescendo of the story, where there is little honesty, zero communication, the empowered woman, who after giving herself freely to the man of her dreams, leaves after a dramatic misunderstanding. The hero, a stubborn man, finally fearing he will lose his love, admits his feelings to his love sick but determined woman. The penny drops, they both realise they are hopelessly in love with each other and off they go skipping into the future ecstatic, unified, equal and married. The relationship is sealed and they are together for the rest of time. I sigh with relief that love is requited and the heroine is not destined to be on her own.

It quite unrealistic and damaging, written to entice the reader into believing that such acts of dominance was romantic, a role of submissiveness to an abuser. I had no idea how unhealthy these books were. Whether its romance novels that twist the reality or a fairy story, I was programming my brain to believe that I deserved nothing less than to be swept off my feet.

I spent the best part of my life searching for love. Desperate to be accepted, to be a wife, to be seen to be normal by being in a relationship, I look around me and I see happy people, wonderful marriages and rose covered cottages. The reality of love is that it takes more than romance to keep a relationship going. It takes patience, tolerance, acceptance, perseverance and, let’s be honest, it can be tough.

I had the best part of 30 years in the ‘wilderness’ and in those times I shared happiness, which eventually failed when it became obvious that neither one of us had the staying power to get through the bad times long term, either because they or I didn’t have the emotional equipment to commit, or the problems and outside influences were too big for either of us to handle. What I thought was love was not the kind that covered all eventualities, all problems; all circumstances. It was conditional and rejections wormed their way in and disappointments and expectations were commonplace. What a mess I was. My second marriage was an absolute disaster from the start, I was a meal ticket and I knew I should have never have gone through with it, back then I didn’t have the power to say no because I feared loneliness, it was a chain around my neck.

I see now that there were so many times I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t mature enough and I wasn’t thinking. I feared being on my own so much that it was fear that drove my decisions, it was fear that led me from one relationship to another.. as the years have gone by I’ve learnt my lessons, I can admit my failings and know the differences between a knight in shining armour and a villain.

Now I’m on my own… I am learning to understand what love is without Barbara. There is a passage in the bible that challenges those very concepts that were imprinted on my very young mind.

1 Corinthians 13 – The passion Translation

Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] 6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] 7 Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up………………….

13 Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all.[u] So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.[v]

What a challenge that is…

I know I am not on my own in this when I say that the abuses and rejections you experience in life makes it so hard to be able to love yourself. It’s easy to become empty, desensitised, to believe you’re not worthy. That there is something worthless about you that say’s that you have nothing to give that anyone wants. I thank God that it isn’t true. I am a prodigal daughter. I came back to my faith a broken woman. I can remember the feeling of relief when, as I was able to open up about my past and start the healing process, that there was one thing that could never be taken away from me.

The promise that nothing would separate me from the love of God. Romans 8 – 31-39.

That in itself brings tears to my eyes. It’s real. Although there are times when I don’t want to go to my home on my own, and sometimes I am aware of a void, is that because I’m still a little girl at heart?, I’m not sure of the answer to that. As time goes by I find myself being more at ease with being on my own. It’s a season of being happy in who I am without another person defining me. To find joy in the things I do have and the friendships that I have found along the way. I imagine myself surrounded by people and being at ease with a life of fellowship and family. Maybe I will be swept off my feet; maybe I will find a knight in shining armour. Maybe I will be loved for all of me and give all of me in return, to someone that see’s beyond the damsel in distress. Maybe I will be loved by someone who wants to be ready for me, that god has made ready for me. An Agape love, where it’s not about what we gain, but about what we give.

I have a good life. I have life….. Whereas before…. I barely existed. That’s something to be joyful for. Seasons change and I continue to grow. God has a great plan for all of us and knows the desires of our heart… so in the meantime I remind myself when I am aware of my own solitude…. I’m not running on empty…… I am full…….. and my cup runneth over.

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