Tag Archive | Love

Bullied as a Child: How Can I Trust in Intimate Relationships?

Dear JoyDiva,

As a child, from ages 6-12, I was bullied first physically and then mentally.  My parents never openly advocated for me, and teachers turned a blind eye.  As a result, I advocated for myself, and have learned to be strong in that sense.

However, as I grow older, my childhood haunts me.  I feel like I will be left holding all the bags at any moment.  I have issues with trust and intimacy, and this wrecks havoc for relationships that I am in.  I question all the good things that come to me because I was told by everyone that I did not deserve it.  I feel hardwired to think this way, and it feels terrible.  I feel that it would be irresponsible to find someone who could handle all of this baggage, so I desperately try to solve my own problems.  However, this drives a wedge between my partners and myself as I will seem moody and distant simply because I cannot express my feelings in a constructive way.

What can I do to get rid of this ‘baggage’ that prevents me from becoming intimate with another person?

Thank you for your time.

The Bullied & The Beautiful

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Dear, “The Bullied & The Beautiful,”

Thank you for your heartfelt note. I’m going to do my best to give you something concrete to work with through what I offer here, and at the same time, it is clear to me that these thought patterns that feel “hardwired” to you at this point are going to take time and TLC to re-wire, and the most effective way to get clear on and release the blocks and blind-spots keeping you from deeper intimacy is for you to partner with a coach or therapist to help. I can absolutely help you unpack that emotional baggage and support you in taking the scary and ultimately, rewarding steps on the path to trust. I can help you gain the confidence to ask for what you want, believe you are worthy of having what you want, and to open up your emotional world to someone and allow yourself to be supported.

Some resources: I highly recommend the Work of Byron Katie as a simple set of tools to help you question the thoughts and stories that are creating your suffering and open you up to your life NOW, rather than being led by your past. Another experience that could be quite powerful for you might be to participate in the Landmark Forum—the experiential learning there would also support you in the breakthroughs your are wanting. Psychodrama group therapy could be a powerful experience to help you process, re-frame and let go. Brené Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly would also be a helpful resource in helping you strengthen your shame resilience so that you can open yourself to being vulnerable in all of your relationships.

The work that I encourage you to start moving through is to start differentiating between what happened in your past and the stories that you created around those experiences that are now shaping your future. The past is truly in the past. As painful as it was, it is now over, gone, never to be as it was. Even the terrible, nasty things that people said to you are in the past, over and done with. What is living NOW is the story you created, the meaning  that you added to those experiences in your life. Stories like, “I don’t deserve to be loved.” “I can’t trust anyone but myself.” “Love isn’t safe.” “If I’m vulnerable you will hurt me.” “I’m a victim and you are the perpetrator,” “I will be left holding all of the bags at any moment.” As a small child, you couldn’t help but buy into these stories. You were doing the best that you could to protect yourself and survive. As scary as it is as an adult, you don’t ACTUALLY need these stories to protect you, anymore, and the most powerful place to be is in the heart of your vulnerability, rather than gripped by the fear that these thoughts of mistrust create for you.

And if you were to go back and get really clear on what actually happened in your past, (ie. My classmate called me fat, ugly and stupid) and then the story you may have created around what happened (ie. My classmate hates me, she said that because there’s something wrong with me, everyone hates me, I really AM fat, ugly and stupid, people think I’m undeserving of love, etc.)…the more you separate out the story from what happened, the more you will be able to take responsibility for the meaning you added to those experiences, and set yourself free. The wonderful thing about life is that all kinds of stuff happens, and WE get to be the ones who make meaning of it. At any time you can choose to shift your reality based on how you are choosing to perceive it. At anytime, you could choose to open up your heart and know that no matter what the other person does or does not do, you will never leave you, you will always be there to love and support you. (another one of my posts that has great wisdom in it for you: http://askthejoydiva.com/2012/01/18/why-is-it-so-hard-to-accept-that-my-boyfriend-loves-me/)

So, my love, like I said above, this kind of letting go and thought-shifting may not happen over night and will best be addressed via the support of a professional to hold up the mirror and help you with this process of differentiation. You most certainly do not have to do this growth work on your own, and truth-be-told, as someone who has also built quite a wall of self-reliance through the years due to former abuse and bullying—it doesn’t really work to do that kind of growth work on your own.

I’m always here if you should want to take your healing to the next level and you don’t want to go it alone.

Much love to you. dear heart.

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

I’m Afraid to be Naked in Front of My Boyfriend…What Should I Do?

Hello Joy Diva. I am 23 years old and I am still insecure of many things I used to be insecure when I was a teen. I am short and fat and I have stretch marks all over my body. I used to have zits and now the marks are all over my face. But this young man, 19, who’s been my friend for over a year now confessed he had feelings for me. And now, we’ve been in love for a couple of months now, but we haven’t been so intimate yet. I know there will come a time when he’ll finally get to see the ugly skin I have I kept hidden underneath my clothes. I’m really afraid my insecurities would ruin up our intimacy and worse our relationship. What should I do?

Ugly Duckling

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Hi Beautiful,

I simply cannot call you the Ugly Duckling because the last thing that you need from me right now is to reinforce this painful image of yourself. You may think that calling you “Beautiful” is taking things too far in the other direction, and I know better. I am confident (and I imagine your boyfriend is, too) that there is exquisite beauty pouring from every aspect of who you are.

Dear, sweet girl—my heart broke a little when I read this post and it was filled with so much love and compassion for you that I can only hope that you feel me wrapping my arms around you with my words. I feel your fear—how real it seems to you that you could be rejected, that you could lose love, that you are not worthy to receive it in the first place because of the way that you look. You’ve gotten pretty good at rejecting yourself, withholding love from yourself, and deeming yourself unworthy through the years, haven’t you? Food itself has probably become both a tool of comfort and punishment as you try to fill those unloved spaces and simultaneously punish yourself for adding to this state of being somehow “unlovable.”

First things first: Fat or thin, tall or short, outgoing or shy, lighthearted or serious, brain surgeon or high school drop-out, etc., etc. you will ALWAYS be worthy of the same amount of love as everyone else—the same love that you feel and wish for your boyfriend, or anyone else who crosses your path. You were born inherently lovable and inherently worthy of being loved. Period. Nothing will ever, ever change that. Being inherently lovable is one of the gifts we get to have for being human.

So, I’m going to give you some tools to love yourself up right now:

1) I want you to honor your fears and insecurities by communicating them to your boyfriend. Right now, you are feeling ashamed about your body, ashamed that you feel insecure about your body, ashamed that you might “ruin” your relationship with this insecurity…and then you’re even feeling ashamed about feeling ashamed. The best way to rid yourself of this shame is to speak it out loud—shame evaporates when we speak it out loud. I know that you’re afraid to let him know that you are anything less than confident, and the truth is that you’re not feeling confident right now—far from it, and what you are feeling is 100% OK and needs your attention and acknowledgment. Let him know how nervous that you are, afraid of pushing him away, afraid that he might not like what he sees…lay it all out there. Honesty is sexy. That’s right…downright I-want-to-make-sweet-love-to-this-woman sexy. :) Chances are really good that he is just going to fall more in love with you through your vulnerability, and if he doesn’t, then he is not a right fit. Any guy who doesn’t embrace you in your vulnerable honesty is not a man worth your time.

2) I want you to start exploring your body as the extraordinary pleasure center that it is. You are a WOMAN! A curvy, soft, sensuous, nurturing, exquisite, radiant flower in your own right. Unlike a man, you have an organ on your body whose sole purpose is for pleasure! How awesome is that?! (Yes…I’m talking about your clitoris…if you haven’t visited it yet or often, I encourage you to get to know it and make it your best friend… :) ) Your body isn’t for your boyfriend! It’s for YOUR pleasure, your enjoyment, your love. Give yourself the gift of exploring all of the ways that you can give yourself pleasure. I want you to enjoy taking showers and feeling the water on your skin, enjoy making yourself smell good, wearing beautiful fabrics…giving yourself all of the time that you need to be fully present in nurturing your body. Dance to music around your house, feel your body flowing with the music. Enjoy the food that you eat—take time to savor it on your tongue. Your body is magnificent. It is the house for your beautiful soul and it is made for you to enjoy what it means to be alive. Women who love their bodies through self-care and pleasure…bodies of all shapes and sizes, are irresistibly sexy.

3) Beyond your body, I want you to explore your inherent fabulousness. Take 5 minutes and make a non-stop list of all of the reasons why any man would be blessed to call you his girlfriend. You were born as a unique expression of the divine, equipped with wonderful strengths. You were born to be a blessing by simply being who you are. So who are you, Gorgeous? Now is not the time to be humble. Go nuts, fill up the page and brag about yourself like there’s no tomorrow.

4) What do you LOVE to do? What do you love about being alive? Make a list and pick 3 things that you can bring into your life daily/weekly/monthly that fill you with joy…and then create time to do those things.

I get that some, if not all, of my assignments for you probably make you super uncomfortable…and that’s the point. You are safe. You are in your own loving hands with every one of these steps, and you deserve to allow yourself to get uncomfortable for the sake of your growth. You deserve to feel sexy and sassy and worthy of all of the love in the world…because you are. Consistently practicing these actions will increase your sense of confidence and love for yourself and begin the process of setting you free. AND you will start to discover that taking care of yourself in these ways just feels damn good…and you so deserve to feel damn good, my dear.

Picturing you happy, healthy, and free.

:) Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

 

How Can I Rediscover the Fun, Happy, Optimistic Me?

Dear JoyDiva,

I am a young woman of 20 and I want to find out why I can’t accept myself although i am average height and weight. I feel ashamed when I’m naked because I am not your typical playboy model. I have differences that even though my boyfriend tells me over and over again that I am normal or I have read that I am, I still don’t feel this way. It scares me into thinking I can’t explore outside of this little life. I can’t feel free. I have also hurt my boyfriend twice because I am so insecure. I want to be able to be free and be me without feeling I am obligated to stay with my boyfriend or that I have to take up anyone who gives me attention or anyone that is sweet to me. How can I rediscover the fun, happy, optimistic me? Before I would do nothing but draw in my spare time, and I even went to college but shortly gave it up because I felt as if my boyfriend couldn’t handle it and I was afraid he would leave me and even though I love him, I was afraid I’d end up alone. We fought all the time about the past things I did. Help.

Feeling Guilty

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Dearest Feeling Guilty,

I’m sorry to hear how “little” that you are feeling in your life, right now, and I commend you for reaching out in honor of the freedom that you are longing for and deserve to feel.

What I love about this question is that you are already halfway to answering it for yourself. :) You know what’s going on here. You know that you are abandoning yourself by your current choices. You see the fear. You also see how your choices to follow the fear rather then taking the actions that make you feel free and expanded are dimming your light and clipping your wings.

You will feel fun, happy & optimistic when you start pursuing yourself again. Your choice to draw, go to college, or do anything you damn well please has nothing to do with your boyfriend, and if he’s being bothered by your pursuing that which brings you alive, then he’s the one responsible for the misery he creates for himself. A healthy relationship consists of two individuals pursuing themselves, and celebrating & supporting each other in their individual wholeness. You’re not responsible for his happiness, nor is he responsible for yours.

You will feel sexy when you start choosing & claiming your own life again & expressing your unique individuality. This isn’t about your body. This is about you cherishing yourself through your time and attention. This is about you speaking up for what you want and what you don’t want. This is about you owning that you CAN have freedom and joy when you choose it for yourself. All of your focus on trying to keep your relationship has had you in a constant state of self-abandonment. You will rediscover all that is magical within you when you start risking this current false illusion of comfort in your relationship for the sake of what you really want. If he can’t walk beside you as you transform, if the relationship ends because he can’t handle your pursuing your life, then THANK GOD! Anyone or anything that does not support you in coming alive is way, way, way too small for you. You weren’t born to be in relationship with this guy. You were born to gift the world with your aliveness. What a waste of a beautiful precious life if you squander it for fear of being alone! (When you choose to love yourself you will discover that you are never alone. You are always supported. You are always loved.)

Make a list of all of the activities/choices/ways of spending your time that make you feel free and by gosh, start doing those things! Imagine a time in your life when you were really happy. What were you doing & experiencing? What was it about that experience that contributed so much to your joy? How can you start bringing those qualities into your life TODAY?

It’s time to take action & choose yourself, Beautiful.

Here are some nurturing resources for you:

Visit my website & grab your FREE Self-Love SuperStar Kit—a WONDERFUL gift to yourself (It includes a free report of “85 Ways to Feel Happy, Confident & Free…No Matter What”, along with 3 other goodies for your expansion.)

Christine Arylo’s Books: Choosing Me Before We & Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend

You are an extraordinary woman who was born to do extraordinary things…always know that.

Much Love,

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

My Boyfriend No Longer Appreciates Me…What Should I Do?

Hi Melissa,

 I am currently dating a guy for 3.5 years and he lives with me in my mothers house.  He pays rent and splits the  bills 50/50 with me.  I worry that he doesn’t know the difference between being in love with someone and loving them.  He doesn’t really ever seem to do anything spontaneous and kinda takes a back seat to things. Like planning and doing things for me.  It’s simple and yet complicated because we live together.  I used to feel so appreciated by him and that he would do anything and help me in anyway, but he has started to change.  He doesn’t realize that he barely gives me any affectionate anymore.  He has gotten a new job and we both are very busy, but I continuously feel like I wish he would do more.  The problem is ..well… I love him and we have been friends and dated in high school.  He is 25 and I am 26.  I think this is when we should be passionate about each other and go wild with each other still and go out and he just seems so comfortable with things the way they are and I’m not.  I have the best time with him, we joke and laugh and are so happy with each other when it’s just us.  But I feel like he doesn’t show me off or just never wants to do anything.

I feel like he should realize how lucky he is that I got him to stay at my mom’s house with me and how lucky he is, but he never seems to show it.

Joanne

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Dear Joanne,

Hello, Lovely. I hear that you want to feel pursued and fully cherished, and I love that. You absolutely deserve to have that experience in all arenas of your life! I hear that your boyfriend is not behaving in ways toward you that feed your experience of feeling cherished. I also see that you are giving your power away every time you believe that it’s his job to pursue and cherish you rather than your own job. You cannot control his actions, and there is no advice that I can give you that will make him love you the way you want him to, that will make him be in love with you the way that you want him to be. What I can help you with is to gently nudge you back in the direction of the relationship that is in your control: the one that you have with yourself. I can definitely help you fall in love with yourself again, and when you do that, whether or not he’s in love with you and in the way that you want him to be is just not going to matter to you nearly as much.

In fact, it’s possible that once you start focusing on how to give yourself the love that you are longing for, once you start pursuing your own passions, your own life with your whole being, you may actually find yourself appreciating what he does offer in his own way—you might actually recognize that his love has been enough the whole time. You might also discover that when you remove the focus from him and put it on yourself that he may feel less pressure to be who you want him to be and start pursuing you more. You may also discover that he’s not a right fit, that you continue to feel unsatisfied in your relationship and need to walk away, and that will be ok, too. Whatever the outcome, the answer lies fully in your turning your focus back to you. While you’ve been focusing all of your precious energy on all of the ways that your boyfriend is not being who you want him to be, you have flat out been ignoring you, and isn’t that sorta kinda what you’re accusing him of doing? Yeppers. It’s not his loving attention and presence that you are so needing, its yours.

Here’s your assignment: I want you to do a little journaling about your dream life. How are you spending your time in your dream life—both professionally and recreationally? How does money flow in? What kind of people are you spending time with in your dream life? How do they treat you and how do you treat them? What are you experiencing in your relationships that makes them so fulfilling? What qualities are present in your dream partner and how do those qualities make you feel? Where are you living, etc, etc? Really have fun with this and explore to your hearts content. Next, I want you to take a look at where your life is right now and ask yourself: What are three things you could do right away to bring you closer to this reality, three small steps that would make you feel more alive? This, my dear, is the beginning of a beautiful path of pursuing yourself as the irresistibly lovable, worthy-of-your-precious-time-and-attention, woman that you are. Do this simple assignment and you will already feel loved up in the way that you are longing for—I guarantee it. (And then, keep taking those juicy action steps, and keep on taking them…:)

Your next assignment: Share your dream life scenario with your boyfriend, and if you haven’t already, communicate with him what you’ve written to me. Communicating honestly from your heart in all of your relationships is the most powerful way that you can cherish yourself and build the necessary intimacy that makes relationships thrive. Does he know what you want? Have you fully communicated what you want, owning that you deserve it? You cannot control his response, and you only sell yourself, him and the relationship short by withholding what is true in your heart for fear of losing the relationship. By keeping silent, you lose yourself. By communicating from your heart, you can create the opportunity for both of you to discover more about yourselves and your relationship. You can create the opening for him to step up and pursue you the way you want to be pursued. He may not want to do that—by communicating honestly with him, you give both of you the opportunity to see that truth and to know whether it’s time to continue forward in your relationship or to move on.

Your sweet soul is just screaming for your attention—she’s feeling pretty darn abandoned in your focused pursuit of your relationship with your boyfriend. She longs to feel desired and cherished and recognized as the irresistible love kitten that she is. :) You can give that to her by shifting your focus from what is outside of your control and bringing it back to the calling of your own heart. Make plans with yourself. Spontaneously surprise yourself by taking a step outside of your comfort zone and seeing how capable that you are. Take a step that your future self will thank you for, and then appreciate yourself for it. Speak your truth. Get wild and passionate about your life  and who you are and show yourself off—these are all simple ways that you can give yourself all that you are longing for, and let me tell you, when you start radiating that love from the inside out, there is nothing that compares to the completeness and joy of that experience. Plus, you will be so irresistible to everyone around you that that they’ll start to form a line outside your door. ;)

Thanks for sharing this with me–I’m honored to support you in your shining.

Much love to you and your boyfriend,

:)Melissa A.K.A the JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

My Husband Has Become Abusive…What Should I Do?

Dear JoyDiva,

I have been married almost two years now, I’m approaching 30, he just turned 24.  When we first met it was like I could not get enough of his soul…it was a positive energy that I had never experienced before and I fell in love with his beautiful  approach to life.  ( HE is from a different country)  But almost immediately after we got married things started to drastically change, he was immigrating and could not work in the US and got depressed due to lack of social connections and took everything out on me.  I always just chalked it up that he didn’t have a lot of life experience so I just forgave and moved on… Then things started to get more verbally abusive.  Suddenly I was the reason for his lack of motivation, no friends, not enough money, etc.  And yes there was even a point of extreme physical anger towards me.  Now I am a forgiving individual and I try to look at the good of the situation. And I def pray about these things…but it is not getting any better.  Now I am getting sicker and more stressed out about these things.  (we have already tried seeing a counselor also)  What are your thoughts?  I feel so beat down even though I am trying my best.  Help I am lost in translation here.

Lost in Translation

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Dearest Lost in Translation,

Hi, Love. It sounds like you’ve been through a doozy of a Saturn Return over these past couple of years, and you are being forced to pay attention to how you are nurturing the most important relationship you will ever have in your life: the one that you have with yourself. You have been overriding a lot of her messages, the messages from your inner voice, these past couple of years, haven’t you? (God speaks to you through that inner voice and has been answering your prayers all along.) This whole Saturn Return time has been here to bring you down to earth through this experience so that you can start operating in full integrity with that inner voice and begin to understand how to TRULY have a healthy relationship that does not involve all of this sacrifice.

I can hear your pain and desperation, sister, and you’ve reached out to me, your mind wanting me to tell you to stick it out just a little longer, to do x, y and a little of z and watch the relationship transform back into the magic that it initially was; and your heart wants me to tell you the truth: It’s time for some radical self-love. It’s time to stop buying into the blame. It’s time to stop putting him and the relationship WAY before yourself and your own well-being. It’s TIME to walk away. (Take a deep breath….and let it out.)

Your job is not to be nice or even to be forgiving—I hear that you have a sweet, compassionate soul and you’ve been buying into some of these ideas that his current state of being is somehow your fault. Please own this: His happiness is not and never will be your job. Ever. Your job is to love yourself fiercely, to make choices that make you come alive, not ones that diminish you. (Who are you really serving by being a diminished version of yourself? Certainly not him, let alone anyone else who crosses your path…) Your husband’s job is to love himself, and no matter how much you try to love his pain away through support and understanding, he’s never going to be able receive that loving until he stops his own cycle of self-loathing. By staying in this toxic relationship, you are not only harming yourself, but you are not giving yourself OR your husband the precious opportunity to grow.

I get it. You think that if you can just get through this time with him, if he can get his life on track again and rediscover his spark, that all will go back to the positive energy of yesterday. But living your life today because of what was two years ago is not accepting reality. What you are having the opportunity to see  is how your husband copes with stress and change. He’s not practicing self-care. He’s not loving himself, and he’s projected that lack of self-love into detrimental abuse toward you; and Dear Heart, let me repeat: None of this is your job to fix. It’s his job and only his.

I know, just as you know, that your husband has a beautiful core. He is completely lovable and I know it breaks your heart that he doesn’t see it. It’s now time for you to be a beautiful example of self-love, to create the opportunity for him to transform, by choosing to love yourself and walk away. Walking away from him does not make him bad or unworthy of love—it’s the opposite. You are giving him the chance to finally stand on his own two feet, pick up the pieces of the shambles he’s created and learn just how worthy he is. He may or may not take that opportunity. He may continue to spiral downward, and that remains his choice. It is not your job to go to that dark place with him.

I want you to honor your feelings of grief. It is so painful to have found something so magical to watch it disintegrate into darkness right before your eyes. I know that you don’t want to let go of all that you saw was possible for your future with this man, but the truth is, he has A LOT of growing to do before he is in position to be in healthy relationship with you. A LOT. And that will require A LOT of humility on his part and a willingness to completely transform these negative patterns. No abuse, whether that’s verbal or physical is ever, ever, EVER an acceptable coping strategy in any relationship—I don’t care what the excuse. You deserve nothing less than someone who knows fully how to love himself and can pour that love right back toward you, consistently. That relationship will exist for you when you start loving yourself enough to demand nothing less. This is your lesson right now, and I know that it is oh so painful, but God is loving you up with this challenge.  God wants so very much for you to have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any form of abuse against you. Honor your inner “yes’s” and “no’s,” and you will discover great joy through this painful time.

I want you to surround yourself with love and support at this time—with family and friends who love you unconditionally. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need support in creating an action plan for yourself—I know that this is an overwhelming time. Rather than “going it alone” this is a powerful time to invest in yourself by partnering with a coach who will help you reconnect with your inner knowing and what it means for you to love yourself fully. I would, of course, be honored to support you as you create the life that you truly deserve to be living.

Above all, please be really, really gentle with yourself right now. Give yourself the time and space that you need to grieve. Know how extraordinarily lovable that you are. (I know this because we ALL are.) Know that you deserve to be deeply cherished, and take loving steps to cherish yourself.  Another post that I think would be great help for you at this time, as well: http://askthejoydiva.com/2012/02/14/why-is-it-so-hard-for-me-to-walk-away-from-my-marriage/

Loving you every step of the way.

Melissa A.K.A the JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

How Do I Know If It’s True Love?

Dear JoyDiva,

Is it possible to fall in love truly with a person you haven’t personally met yet? I met a guy on the internet and I think I have fallen in love with him but he’s half the world away and I haven’t personally met him yet. We communicate on Skype and I wanna know if true love could exist even without meeting each other yet. And how do I know if it’s indeed true love? Please help me. People say I am too young to know what true love is. Thank you. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. I’ve been reading a lot of your entries and it’s helping me a lot.

19′sTooYoungToFallInLove

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Dear 19′sTooYoung,

Hi there, Darlin’. To address your questions as a whole, I want to say this: Take your time. Explore. Get a little messy in the learning process. Enjoy yourself, and know that when it comes to true love, there is no rush to know if it is a “for the rest of your life” kind of thing or a “just for now” kind of thing.

I see that you have found someone with whom you’ve had an initial spark, which is exciting! It sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time chatting on Skype, which is certainly a useful means to get to know someone halfway across the world, and to feel attraction and discover how you communicate. It is a worthy starting point. Do you need to meet him to fall truly in love? Well, my dear, I think that you’re asking the question because you kind of already know the answer. Relationships certainly can’t fully blossom from a distance—there is all kinds of real life, day-to-day stuff that you need to experience together before you can really know what your bond is made of. Right now, you have the initial seedlings of love. You have the romantic feelings and the joy of possibility. Those are wonderful things worth exploring, and I bet you are learning a lot about yourself in the process…which is the true gift of relationship.

People have said that you are too young to know what true love is—well, I hate slapping age labels on things because I’ve met some extraordinarily astute ladies your age, but I’m going to say that there is of course, a fair amount of truth to this statement, no matter how astute that you are. True love comes as a reflection of how deeply you love yourself, and my dear, you are only just discovering who you are. Is it possible that at your age you can meet someone who you could enjoy spending the rest of your life with? Yes—I know a handful of people who are married to people they met when they were teens. With that said, if you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone, I want to stress again that there is NO RUSH in knowing that—that long-term commitment will come out of doing a whole lot of learning and growing together and as individuals over time, and you will know it’s right because your love for one another, and for yourselves, will continue to grow through that bond. You know it’s “true” because you continue to be true to yourself, you continue to pursue your own passions, advocate for your needs, and you cheer on and support your partner as he does the same. You know it’s “true love” because as you continue to communicate honestly about who you are, as you be more and more fully YOU and live your life to the fullest, he will still be at your side, loving you all the way and vice versa.

I want to invite you to commit yourself to an adventure in intimacy, and not the idea that you will be with this particular person forever. What I mean by that is this: It can be so easy to get attached to the idea that, “This person who I’m loving right now HAS to be ‘the one.’ It’s him that I want and nothing can sway me from that,” but coming from that place makes it really easy to tune out what your heart is telling you and to start sacrificing who you are and what you need in order to be happy—no person or relationship is worth your compromising who you are and what you really want, ever. (Love at ALL costs is not actually true love.) Instead, I want you to see this relationship experience as an opportunity to learn as much about him and about yourself as possible. Recognize when your “forever” agenda can get in the way of your fully sharing about yourself or asking him clear questions for fear that you might lose him because of the answers you find. The most important relationship that you will have, the one that it is your primary job to nurture, is the one that you have with yourself.  Be committed to discovering what he really values and be honest with yourself and him about what you really value. Tune into your inner “yes’s” and “no’s” in response to all that you are discovering—”Does what I’m discovering make me feel free and alive?” or “Does it make me feel constricted and drained?” If all that you discover in this relationship continues to make you come alive, then by all means, keep saying “yes” to discovering more! But please don’t give up any of your own dreams or make a choice that makes you feel stuck in order to make the relationship happen—then it is not true love and you’ve mistreated your dear, sweet self for the sake of someone who is not right for you.

Let this relationship experience be a glorious opportunity to discover who YOU are and all that you want for your life. I encourage you in your own time to do some journaling around all that you envision for your life as well as qualities that are really important to you in a potential life partner. Continue to get clearer and clearer on what it is in your own life as well as in a relationship that makes your heart sing, and then be as honest as you can possibly be in every aspect of your life. Through knowing yourself and expressing yourself honestly, you will discover the love that is true and the love that isn’t. And most of all, HAVE FUN! You have a lifetime to fall in love with all that you are and that is something to celebrate.

Much Love, Dear Heart.

:) Melissa, A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

I’m Afraid to Show My Boyfriend I Love Him…Can You Help?

Hello JoyDiva,

Let me tell you how thankful I am for finding you, even though I don’t know you :’) My question is, well is more my issue, is that you see I do not know how to love my boyfriend, I feel like if I show him how much in love I am for him he’s gonna get tired of me :( Please help me!

StarstruckbyWatermelons

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Dear StarstruckbyWatermelons, (You could make a hit record with a name like that! ;))

Without knowing a lot of back story (i.e. how long you’ve been with your boyfriend, your relationship history, what it means for you to “show” your love, etc.), I’m not going to focus on any or those sorts of specifics here.

What I can say is this: There is nothing that you have to do or be other than exactly who you are to be worthy of a deeply nourishing and unconditionally loving relationship. Your fears of rejection are completely normal, and it’s 100% OK for you to take baby steps when it comes to revealing your vulnerability in your relationship—there is no need to put all of your emotions on the table at once if that is something you are not ready for. Building a foundation for a lasting relationship happens step by step—it takes time to build intimacy, to reveal piece by piece if your relationship has what it takes to flourish and endure, and taking things slowly is a most excellent way to ensure that you’ve got yourself a good one. If he’s the right guy for you, then he’s gonna relish in taking his sweet time and in building something true and lasting with you, too.

I hear that you really like this guy and are afraid to make a wrong move. As really, super-duper, incredibly scary and vulnerable that it may feel, the thing is that when you choose to express your truth—whether that means that you gush all over him with love or express your need to take your sweet time in sharing your love for him or simply just let him know that you’re kind of freaking out—you always win, he wins and the relationship wins, too. Here’s the deal: you actually don’t need your boyfriend’s love or approval—as scary as it seems in your mind to experience him disapproving of you and/or walking away, you have everything that you need within you to pick up your life and create insane amounts of joy. By choosing to express yourself honestly, you are not only loving him, you are creating the opportunity for you to be TRULY loved for completely who you are. If he isn’t ok with how you share your love, then let him go, darlin’; because that means that you aren’t a right fit for one another, and there is another man out there who is gonna be THRILLED to receive love just the way you know how to give it. Hiding yourself so that you can keep a relationship that may or may not be right? Well, that is selling you, your boyfriend and your relationship way, way short of all of the goodness that could exist in your lives. When you speak your truth, everyone wins—you and your boyfriend both get to see if your relationship has what it takes to serve you both to the fullest and then choose accordingly for your lives. It may sound cliche, but the truth really does set us free—free to be who we really are, have what we really want and deserve, and it opens us to all of the joy that can come with that freedom.

So, I want to ask you: What is it that you really want in a relationship? What does your dream partnership look like? What do you need in order to feel cherished in your relationships? Your homeplay: Go ahead and make a really long, juicy list in answering these questions—really go all out with this one. I have a strong feeling that a core piece of your dream relationship includes you getting to be COMPLETELY yourself and being loved for it. (At least I hope so!) Some other things that you might want to include are: “I can express myself fully and it only makes him love me more.” “I can take my precious time, and my partner will not only understand, but respect and cherish the choices that I need to make for myself.” Have fun with this—it’s so important that you get really clear on what you want to be experiencing so that you can build a relationship from that awareness. The world needs you to be fully YOU, and any relationship that doesn’t support you in your “you-ness” isn’t doing any of us justice.

So, make your list, and then I want you to explore some of the ways that you can ensure that you have all of those pieces that you want. One clear way right off the bat is in choosing to share all of yourself—your boyfriend may or may not choose you in the end, but by choosing to share your truth, you are being your best partner, you are choosing yourself. There is a deep and lasting joy that can be discovered when you realize that you will always have your own back.

I want to close with sharing a video of me performing my upcoming single, “I’m Free”–it’s all about the joy and freedom that we discover when we choose ourselves. May this song serve as a loving reminder of your inherent worth and power.

Much love to you and your boyfriend, Dear One.

:) Melissa, A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

What is the Source of My Jealousy & How Do I Make it Go Away?

Dearest Melissa,

For the past four months you’ve coached me through one of the most volatile periods of my life. Guided by your wisdom I’ve grown into a joyful woman filled with immeasurable energy and self-love. Discovering and solidifying my values has been magical and empowering, and my relationships—especially the all-important one with myself—are flourishing. What I’m trying to say is… Thank you! It’s been several weeks since we last connected, and I’ve discovered a very important and deeply-rooted issue that I’d like to explore with you. That issue is Jealousy.

Jealousy has been a persistent shadow in my life for as long as I can remember. Without the right tools to coax it out of my garden, I’ve had no choice but to watch it linger and sometimes flourish amongst the lovely things that I purposefully nurture. Jealousy has taken many forms throughout my life but most recently has manifested itself in a new relationship with a young man I’ll call “Roman.” We met on a road-trip and spent the following week of winter break in almost constant contact. I quickly became smitten with him. Naturally (for me), whenever he showed affection toward our female peers, I became green around the gills. This blood-boiling possessiveness is a loathsome feeling to hold in the body, and I often became upset with myself for not being able to control it.

Immediately after parting ways with Roman I happened upon a book by Susan Page titled “The 8 Essential Traits of Couples Who Thrive.” On the whole, I think the book is fabulous, but one section that particularly struck me was that on intimacy. Page asserts that one cannot give OR love themselves fully if they don’t know themselves fully. She says that the “inner self” is where we harbor our most private pleasures, dreams and insecurities. The deep, hidden realm where our wounds, self-doubt and fears live is called the “snake pit.” According to Page, the snake pit is something that we all must accept and face without fear if we are to love ourselves completely. I’m inclined to agree with Page, and am willing (if not eager) to being charming my jealous snakes, for if I don’t know them, I can’t love them.

Thankfully I am not wont to envy other’s looks, possessions, or status, but this issue is nonetheless quite serious. Melissa, what questions would you ask me to help discover the roots of my jealousy and start to slowly ease them out? What do you do when you feel jealous? Do you think it can ever be completely eradicated? If I am to have an intimate relationship with Roman I wish to harbor no jealous feelings, and I know it would make me a more joyful person overall if I could let go of the general jealousy I sense when others become close to my best friend. As always, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Love,
It’s not easy being green

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Dear, “It’s not easy…”

Ah yes, the green-eyed monster. You feel it. I feel it. We’ve all felt it…and hated it, and felt terrible for feeling it. After going through an intense experience myself this past fall that brought up some major jealousy, I decided that it is one of the worst combinations of human emotions that one could experience. If you want to know a bit about some of that journey you can read about it here.

Jealousy happens because we experience a perceived threat to something we 1) believe we need, and 2) is outside of us, and 3) therefore, out of our control. Do I think it’s possible for us to fully eradicate jealousy? Yes, I do–jealousy and any other emotions that cause us pain come in response to attaching to thoughts that are untrue. With that said, be gentle with yourself and let your jealousy teach you rather than trying to resist it. In this case, as you found yourself falling for Roman (fun name, btw…:), it was these other ladies who shed a wonderful light on your own “snake pit” and suddenly there was the belief followed by the feeling that you have something to lose.

But answer me this: What do you REALLY have to lose? First of all, you’ve only just met Roman, and while I’m gathering that you’ve been mutually enjoying one another, you have only caught a glimpse of the surface of each other. Have fun with that, and know that it is YOU that you “lose” when you slip into the idea of “we” so quickly. This is what your jealously has so lovingly come to show you. You feel loathsome and out of control because you’re putting your focus in the direction of things that you will never be able to control. How does Roman feel about you? How does he feel about your female peers? Does he choose YOU? Can you trust him? Can you trust those girls not to take him away? Are you enough for him? These endless questions that start to float about amidst jealousy are none of your business–you will never be able perceive or affect the answers to these questions.

Here is what IS in your control: What does in mean for you to trust YOURSELF? What does it mean for you to be fully available to yourself, to never leave you, to make YOU feel cherished? What does it it mean for you to fully accept and approve of YOURSELF? These are all things that you can take care of yourself. THIS is your business, to choose yourself. In what ways were you beginning to compromise yourself in the context of this relationship? You will understand the wisdom of your jealousy by focusing in there.

When the jealousy comes on, allow yourself to take some space and fully feel it. It’s a great time to take a step back, take the focus away from relationships and remind yourself of all of the other kickass stuff you have going on in your life. You’re asking great questions and tapping into some great internal wisdom! Be gentle with yourself and know that you are growing in leaps and bounds. I’m honored to be a part of that. :)

As a final aside, as you continue to grow in your capacity to approve of and choose yourself first, you may find that you simply do not want to spend time with guys that freely share affection with other women–that’s ok to own. That doesn’t make those men WRONG, it just simply means that you prefer something else. It’s your party. You’ve already got the love. No need to contort yourself into uncomfortable positions for someone who approaches relationships differently.

Much Love,

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

Why Is It So Hard for Me to Accept That My Boyfriend Loves Me?

Dear JoyDiva,

Why is it so hard for me to accept that my boyfriend loves me? I have met the perfect man. He is kind, smart, sexy, loving, funny and generous. He tells me that he loves me, that I’m beautiful and that I make him smile every day. My problem is that I don’t believe him. There’s absolutely nothing that he has done to make me feel that his love is not true. Why can’t I accept that he loves me? Why do I have to question it? Why can’t I be comfortable knowing that he loves me? Of course, that leads me to me next dilemma. When is he going to stop loving me? I have a feeling it may be when I begin to annoy him with all these insecurities! Thanks for your help.

Julie

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Dearest Julie,

I’m so happy to hear that you have found someone who is so good at loving you up–it sounds like he is a wonderful mirror for you right now of your own kind, smart, sexy, loving, funny, and generous self. You, of course, wouldn’t appreciate these qualities about HIM so much if they weren’t values living inside of you, as well. He is no more or less perfect that you are, my dear.

His love is also a wonderful mirror for you to take a look at the beliefs you have about yourself that are keeping you from experiencing the love that you long for. You are right, Dear Heart in recognizing that it’s nothing to do with him and everything to do with your thoughts. I want to turn your question around on you and have you think on this for a moment–When he tells you he loves you and whispers all of the sweet nothings that you’ve longed to hear, what are the thoughts that come up that keep you from accepting it? Somewhere underneath there I would imagine are some thoughts along the lines of: you need his love in order to be happy, that you can’t trust love to be there–that you cannot trust him, or anyone for that matter, and that oh yes, you might not actually be worthy of receiving the love that you believe you need so much in the first place. What did you DO to make him love you so much, and uh oh, what are you going to DO to screw it up? How could you, all by yourself, without doing anything other than being you, possibly be worthy of such kindness? I realize that it can hurt to own some of these thoughts, but the more honest you can be with these thoughts, the more healing…and love can start to flow in their place.

The truth is that love has nothing to do with what we do or how worthy we are or not–and it never comes from “that person” or “out there.” Right now, the idea of losing his love feels so scary because your mind has pulled you away from one very essential truth: You source your own love. You feel afraid of losing his love because you are putting all of your love-generating capacity outside of yourself and onto him. When we fall in love, we aren’t just falling in love with the other person, we are falling in love with who we are in the other person’s eyes. We are falling in love with our own reflection. Of course that feels good! The cool thing is that underneath all of these thoughts that make you feel badly about yourself, you have the full capacity to simply look within and decide to fall in love–other people are just icing on that cake. I want you to look at the following thoughts and list at least 3 ways that they are true with regard to this relationship and beyond:

“I need MY love.”
“I do not trust MYSELF.”
“I could leave MYSELF.”

Your trust for him and your ability to receive his love will grow in relationship to your ability to trust and love yourself. Look at all of the wonderful juiciness in your life that you are creating ALL BY YOURSELF. In what ways do you step away from yourself and all of the juiciness in your life when you start believing that he might leave and that you can’t live without his love? Those are moments to come back to yourself, to spend some really juicy YOU time, to remind yourself that YOU will never leave you, that you will always be there to provide all that you need. In what ways can you become the most loving and reliable lover that you can ever possibly imagine…to yourself? I want to share a poem with you that I think is good medicine for you, right now. It is called “I Don’t Trust You” and was written by a lovely woman named Natalie Chalmers.

I don’t trust you.
I relieve you of all burden to meet my expectations.
To be anyone I need you to be in order to feel safe.
I don’t trust you and I don’t expect you to trust me.
I relieve myself of all burden to be who you think I am.

And I open my heart as wide as I feel I can.
And that part of me still behind the curtain of
old paradigm beliefs and thoughts
looks to see if you have too.

And I feel happy when I think you have.
And sad when I think you haven’t.
And I tremble with anxiety when I think I have and you haven’t.

And then I remember.
I don’t trust you.
I don’t need to trust you.
My heart is not a fragile thing made of glass.
It is strong beyond all knowing.
It can open wide enough for the whole world to flow through it.
And it takes nothing from me, even when I give it all.

Because Love flows through my heart.
A stream of energy that I can’t keep.
Can’t hold tight onto it.
It moves
Emotion.
Energy in motion.

And every break it has ever had
has only been there to tear it wider.
To open it more.
To expand it so that even more Love can flow through it.

I don’t trust you.
I relieve you of the burden to approve of me,
because I am already Accepted.
I relieve you of the burden to love me,
because I am already Loved.
But I invite you in to share my love.
Share in my sharing.
To play with this flow that bounces between people
As they wax and wane in connection.

I don’t trust you and you needn’t trust me.
Only share what is True for you
And I will do the same.

I don’t trust you.
But I trust myself wholly
to be able to handle anything that
Life can ever bring to me.

Anything.
Through anyone.

Even you.

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Be patient with this process–you deserve the utmost gentleness from yourself as you slowly release your grip around these thoughts that have caused you such fear and pain. I celebrate you as you open yourself bit by bit to discover how infinite that love truly is.

My love to you and that sweet man in your life,

:)Melissa A.K.A the JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson