Dear Charlene: “Do You Think I Could Let Myself Fall In Love?”
Writer and actor Charlene deGuzman answers your questions about love, loss, and loneliness.
Hi everyone! I’m Charlene deGuzman!
I’m a writer and actor in Los Angeles. Some of you may know me as @charstarlene on Twitter, or maybe you’ve heard about my feature film, Unlovable. (Now streaming everywhere! Check out the trailer here.)
I’ve teamed up with FLOOD to offer you all advice, support, and hope! Every month I’ll be answering any of your heart’s questions on life, love, happiness, and any of the deepest places in between.
Let me introduce myself. I was depressed at age eleven. I never thought I could ever feel happy or lovable. I spent my whole life trying to escape the pain. My life was a mess until I got fed up and did something about it. And now, as a recovered sex and love addict, I am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
I’m here to listen and help. Ask me anything at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your identity will remain anonymous.
And if you need one-on-one guidance, check out the work I do on charlenejoy.com. I would love to help!
I did not relate to your last column at all. I have never jumped from relationship to relationship. The thought of a relationship makes me stressed out. Too much work. Too much drama. This is why I make sure to never fall in love. If they fall in love, that’s when I back away. I don’t know what I’m asking. Maybe I want to know if you think I could ever love? LOL.
You’re not alone. I’ve written about avoidance before, or sex and love anorexia. Check that out if you’d like more information on that.
But I wanted to write you back because even if you were joking (but not joking?), I would love to answer your question: Could you ever love?
The simple answer, and truth, is yes. Yes, you could love. You are a human being and you are no exception—you are meant to experience love, it is hoped that you experience love, love is what heals us and expands our awareness.
The much more complex answer is: a lot of us have learned that we must protect our hearts so we don’t get hurt. Maybe we’ve been hurt before, maybe it was when we were children, maybe it was a relationship, maybe it was several. Maybe it’s something we were taught, or just figured out for ourselves, because it felt safe, strong, or logical.
But the truth is, it’s ultimately detrimental to build those walls around our hearts. Although we believe we are protecting ourselves from the bad, we are also blocking ourselves from the good. We block ourselves from receiving love not only from others, but from ourselves.
It’s ultimately detrimental to build those walls around our hearts. Although we believe we are protecting ourselves from the bad, we are also blocking ourselves from the good.
I understand that the work could feel like a waste of time. But remember that some of the best things in life take the most work. That’s because the best things in life are worth it. Being really good at something—and this includes relationships—takes practice. Learning. Making mistakes. Failing. Getting back up again. Showing up. Ah, yes, showing up. How can we get better at something if we don’t show up? More importantly, how can we receive the inevitable rewards if we aren’t available to them?
And the drama you mentioned? Drama isn’t necessary in healthy relationships. Drama is just a reflection of an individual’s pain, wounds, and what needs to be healed. If you find yourself constantly attracting drama into your life, remember that this drama begins with you.
Pain and heartbreak are requirements for being human. We will get hurt. But being human is about experiencing different things. Different feelings. Different relationships. And not just pleasant ones. Although avoiding all of it seems like the safest, most logical thing to do, it’s like stunting your growth. It’s being stuck. When you don’t feel the bad feelings, you won’t feel the good feelings. If you don’t experience life, you don’t learn and evolve. You keep yourself from seeing what’s possible.
And if you don’t allow yourself to get close to anyone, you are essentially not getting close to yourself, either. Our relationships are a reflection of how we treat ourselves. The people in our life are mirrors, always reflecting back what we need to see. Pushing our buttons so that what needs to be healed comes up to heal. Making us uncomfortable so we can learn to be vulnerable and experience the immediate rewards of intimacy.
If you don’t allow yourself to get close to anyone, you are essentially not getting close to yourself, either. The people in our life are mirrors, always reflecting back what we need to see.
I know—why would anyone want to feel uncomfortable? Why would anyone want to feel vulnerable? Because vulnerability is true, authentic strength and power. Showing our true selves, our true emotions, flaws and all, isn’t weak like we’re often taught to believe—it’s strong. It’s the strongest! And every human being deserves to feel this type of empowerment. Every human being deserves to feel this love.
And everyone deserves to share these experiences with someone else. Because life—the highs, lows, and surprises—becomes more meaningful when shared with another person.
That is the gift.
So, yes—you could love! All you’ve got to do is decide. Choose it. Intend for it. And everything that unfolds—even if it’s painful—will be exactly what you need. (But you know what? It passes!) Sometimes that pain is what’s needed in order for us to choose to love ourselves.
And loving others always begins with loving yourself. You’re worth it.
What can you do to begin opening yourself up to the possibility of love? The next time you feel your usual instinct to back away, consider challenging yourself. Sit in the discomfort before completely disappearing. Observe your reaction, acknowledge what happens emotionally and physically. Take care of yourself. Talk about it. Communicate. Open yourself slowly and gently.
And be proud of the baby steps. FL