How do you love?

I have finally graduated college after a 6 year journey, started my internship that will last me the summer, and all in all things are looking up in every area except one. When it comes to my intimate relationships I still struggle. I have a hard time letting people in, or if I let them in, I have a hard time making it last.

I’m not sure what love is anymore, because the love that I knew could hurt me. The love I knew could physically and emotionally abuse me. The love that I knew I was afraid of. I know that that “love” was not right and that what happened to me was wrong but now my brain is hard-wired to fear love and everything included in it.

When Knight told me that he loved me and could then turn around and abuse me in the same night, it made me wonder how someone who loved me could treat me like that. He would then tell me he only did those things because he loved me and was trying to help me. So then I started to associate love with pain. His love hurt and he made me fear his love. Now love is something to run from, not go to.

I have tried to tell myself that not all love is like that, and that if I were to love again it won’t hurt me. But I cannot convince myself that it is true. No matter how much I like someone I cannot make myself trust that their love will not hurt me. I know that there is heart break in love. I’m not talking about normal heart break as the type of hurt I fear. I’m talking about associating love with fearing for your life, and fearing the pain I knew waited for me when he got home. I am talking about the “love” that he used to trap me in his world.

When I tell people about this issue they tell me when the right person comes along he will fix everything. You won’t even have that fear anymore. But how can this be true when every time I see love I want to back away from it. I want to be as far away as possible so that it can’t touch me. I watched friends get married and proclaim their love to one another and all I can think is they are braver than I am. Don’t they know that love will only hurt them? Or if what I experienced wasn’t love then how do they know what is? How can they tell? They just say you will know it when you feel it. Well I felt it, or what was claimed to be it, and if that was it I want no part of love. Although in my heart I want to feel it, I’m just scared to.

When I meet someone new, I can throw myself into the relationship, be fun, reckless, and carefree right up until they say they love me. Then I panic and jump ship. Because in my mind love hurts, and I am more afraid of that hurt than I am being alone. How do you know what love is? How do you know when it’s real? How do you know it won’t hurt you? How?

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