It was a cold, winter night and I lay snuggled next to my now-fiancé, then-boyfriend. It was three months after I had set my New Year's resolution that would later be my saving grace and North Star.
He was struggling with making a huge a life decision. He was happy with his life, but wanted more. I could relate. I've always been a seeker and a visionary. I was excited to help him find clarity, a skill and strength I had as a coach.
He opened up a new Word document on his laptop. The cursor blinked at the top of the blank page. I could feel his anxiety and wanted to calm it in any way I could. I brought all of my focus and energy to this exercise, hoping to have him feel my support. Being with him made me want to give my all. I was touched by his openness to try this exercise. His receptivity strengthened my capacity to give.
I asked him to write about how he wanted to feel. I wasn't sure how he would respond to this kind of prompt. My heart skipped a beat as his fingers vigorously expressed his desired feelings. Next, I asked him to write what circumstances would make him feel that way. Again, he listed several ways he could shift his life to feel the way he wanted to feel.
From there, I asked him to write a list of action steps that he could take to make each of his desires a reality. He wrote three. I admired his ability to be succinct.
I smiled and nodded in understanding as the first two appeared, letter by letter over the screen... They made sense and were in alignment with his goals. I felt like a proud and inspired girlfriend.
As I registered what the third step read, I froze. The muscles of my neck tightened and my head lifted a noticeable half of an inch off of his shoulder. The open flow of my loving energy quickly become stagnated by my intense fear. he softness of my relaxed body against his was instantly transformed into a state of fight or flight.
His third action step read, "To love Lauren more and more everyday."
He wasn't trying to be cute. This was a serious exercise, despite my playful energy. The same serious energy that infused this man's future career goals infused this goal. He didn't make a cute face afterwards. He smiled a firm, matter-of-fact smile. The exercise was complete and I was a mess.
I felt like I couldn't breathe. My mind raced to a fearful place. It wasn't that I didn't love him. I had fallen in love after three dates. We had been sharing those three words with each other everyday for almost a year. But this was different. I realized that our relationship was naturally moving to another level.
I had learned to live for so long without this level of love. How would I learn to receive this? How could I learn to trust this?
I faced a choice: vulnerability or certainty.
A chord was struck in my heart and old wounds were activated in my psyche. I did what I had trained myself to do since I was younger, I pulled away. Old scars of worthlessness, shame and fear still oozed. They were struck and I was terrified. But, in the same moment that I was terrified, I prayed louder than the voice that was scared.
I immediately remembered my New Year's Resolution. That year I didn't set a goal to lose weight or be more productive at work. My resolution was an intention. It was to lean into life.
I wanted to stop pulling away out of fear. I wanted to spend less time in my head and more time in my heart. I wanted to take risks. Like a spider, I had carefully woven a web of fear around my body for the illusion of protection.
But that year, life was calling me to lean in.
Despite the blatant resistance that I felt in the moment, I chose to lean all of the way in. I comforted myself, "Feel a bit more sweet child. Trust. You want this more than you are afraid of this."
I let go. I let the weight of my head rest against his firm shoulder. I let my body soften. My eyes swelled up with tears and I let the tears stream down my face, hitting his shoulder on their descent. A few moments later, the sides of my lips turned upwards and my lungs expanded, allowing me to exhale for the first time in minutes.
He didn't ask me what was wrong. He embraced me and I fully allowed for his embrace. In his own way, he knew.
I want to hear from you.
Tell me about a time in your relationship that you've been faced with choosing between fear or love? What did you do? Does the mantra, "leaning in" resonate with you? If so, what would "leaning in" look like in your life and relationships?
Do you struggle with fear and anxiety? Download me complimentary audio guide: 3 Powerful Steps to Squash Fear and Stop Worrying.