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    The Art of Unlearning Love

    don’t become a monster in the process of fighting one. or loving one. @kingjasminemans

    At 25 I’m unlearning love. It’s mildly embarrassing and pretty funny when I take a step back. All the men I’ve loved, those three special men who are no longer special, turned me into a bit of a monster. A monster who expects little from men, who is confused when someone shows genuine interest, a monster who self-sabotages at the drop of a hat. And I had no clue.

    Well, I sort of knew. A few weeks ago, I asked a girlfriend “How do I show someone that I like them?” and it dawned on me that I have never (and if I did, it was so long ago I don’t remember) fully experienced a positive dating experience. I’ve had moments but they were quickly muddied by human imperfection. For the longest, I’ve thought I knew my baggage, my big three things I actively have to work at so that I can show up for people I care about. But this month I realized that the lack of genuine experiences with men was a bag I haven’t unpacked.

    For years I’ve defined my worth and ability to love in an outward facing way–what I’ve done for others, the men who I’ve saved, the selfless acts. But that somehow altered the narrative to me being the savior and never truly feeling what it’s like to receive someone else’s selflessness. You know that whole idea of a person who is so used to doing things on their own that they never ask for help even when there are people willing to lighten their load? Well, there’s more–a woman who is so used to her own love that she is never willing to open up to the genuine love of others.

    It can show up in friendships and romances, alike, this notion of being wary of love. You become so used to being the giver, you can’t even fathom the idea of being the receiver. That reality has come crashing down on me. My friend’s reply to my question? Something I’ll refrain from copy/pasting (sorry Taelor) but just know she dragged me.

    So I’ve decided to take on a new project, unlearning all the habits that make me hesitant to be vulnerable in practice. The things that prevent me from allowing others to be there for me, for once. The things that lead to me asking another adult how do I tell someone ‘I like you’ as a 25-year-old who is relatively intelligent. The things that ultimately will block me from the experiences I truly want. I don’t have a guide or list of instructions quite yet, but I have a feeling that this spring something will blossom in a way that makes the hard work of unlearning worth it.


    Image: Pinterest

    Ashley Johnson
    Ashley Johnson

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