PQ 4.5 — What makes me feel cherished, loved and secure?
The funny thing about being secure? It’s tough to recognize the feeling when it happens if you’ve never really felt secure. And even harder to accept it when it happens.
So knowing what the vital missing piece is, that one thing that will make you secure when you’ve never really felt that way? Well, it’s a daunting task. It seems completely out of reach.
It is out of reach.
The fight to become more secure is an ongoing one. It’s a struggle. A never-ending climb. There are 2 reasons for this:
- There are plenty of things out there that will push you down if you let them. Temporary (hopefully) setbacks. The stray hater. Reversals of fortune. Negative changes of circumstances.
- The old heights never seem quite as high when you’ve been at them for a while. Driving you to seek out new ones.
So it’s ever onward and upward. While the occasional falling rock beans you on the head.
I couldn’t have answered this question 6 years ago. Because I didn’t feel secure. I had no frame of reference for what “secure” would even feel like. Relationships with others had always felt precarious. Like I was a trapeze artist performing without a net for years. Death-defying jumps at dizzying heights. One slip, one miscalculation and it would all be over.
Even when I met with success, it felt like it belonged to someone else. That somehow I had managed to trick others, however briefly, into thinking I was worthy of love.
I didn’t worry that people I loved would move on; I expected them to. To eventually upgrade to someone more worthy of their affections. And I, last year’s model, to be relegated to obsolescence.
And because of this, I worked hard at my relationships.
This was paradoxical to those who dated me — I would give things my all, but it never sunk in that they cared for me. And my trust issues? Immense. I expected others to lie to me.
What others would perceive as betrayal? Chagrined me, to be sure, but also served as confirmation. Of what I believed to be true.
That I didn’t deserve the good things in my life. They were an accounting error, and eventually life would reclaim them from me.
Security is Following Through, Love is Understanding
But that was 6 years ago.
I’m not saying it’s easy to answer this question now.
But I am answering it from a different elevation. I have spent the past 6 years climbing. And at a better pace than ever before. So much of the ascent has been structured, intentional. My footing, sure. And from this new vantage point, I see so many things.
I remember quite well the first times I felt emotionally secure with a romantic partner. If nothing else, it was because the feeling was so foreign, so alien. It took a bit to pinpoint what exactly what was going on. And even longer to convince myself that it was healthy and okay to let myself relax, to feel secure. That it wasn’t some new ingenuous form of trap, lying in wait for me. The proverbial false sense of security one is lulled into.
If I look back on times when I met with this new, alien feeling of emotional security, I can see that the hardest thing for me to get used to? Was a partner following through on what they said they were going to do.
I do continue to be a sucker for compliments. But in the past, I was prone to attracting partners who were all talk, no action. So a big head trip for me was being with a partner who was a person of few words but great follow-through.
My initial response? Confusion. Worry. That I was walking into a trap. And once that had died down, anger and disappointment. At all the years I had gone without being able to rely on a partner to do what they say they will.
But as time went on, I grew to accept it. And to even expect new partners to be reasonably consistent (things do happen, but overall patterns and effort are key).
And nothing makes me feel more loved than when someone really gets me. Really understands me. Even the paradoxical parts. The parts that conflict.
“In order to be loved, we have to love, which means we have to understand.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.