Afraid To Be Loved

We have a new member of the family. She is a 7 month old, supposedly Lab/Rottweiler mix, rescue puppy. Her full name is Stella Ginger Brown, and she has stolen my heart. I admit my Instagram will be dominated by her, at least for a little while.

Adopting a rescue dog is always fraught with the unknown. She’s not our first rescue so we were prepared for the possibility that it might it be a difficult transition for her. She was found wandering around a small town in Oklahoma, spent a couple of days in a garage as the people that found her attempted to reunite her with her owners, then finally spent 6 weeks with a foster family before joining our family.

She is an incredibly sweet girl, but very timid. Particularly with the guys that live at my house. It took her a few hours to warm up to me, but she eventually did. Her first day with us she would hardly come near my husband. She was a little better with our son, but still very wary of the male gender. It’s obvious that somewhere in her short past, she was hurt by a man. But unlike some dogs, she didn’t cope by becoming aggressive and lashing out. Instead, she finds herself afraid to be loved. And at the same time she is desperate to be loved. You can almost see her inner conflict as she decides whether or not she will take the risk and allow herself to be loved.

Watching our sweet little puppy trying to cope with her dichotomous feelings, it struck me that her conundrum is a common one. Admittedly, I’ve been in her position myself. Needing to be loved and accepted, but afraid to allow someone close enough to fulfill that need. Afraid of being hurt, abandoned, etc. Love takes risk, no matter whether you’re the one offering love, or the recipient of an offer from someone else. It takes courage to love and be loved.

I’ve seen many different reactions in people that are afraid to be loved. Some of us have the tendency to run away and shut ourselves off completely. Others take the smallest of steps towards the possibility of love, only to retreat at the first sign of trouble. While many of those find the courage to take a step forward again eventually, sometimes it’s too late. Still other people will throw themselves into a relationship with someone other than the right person in order to avoid having to take the risk that a truly intimate relationship requires. That may be the saddest choice of all. But the bravest of this bunch, will conquer their fear and take the risk.

I can say from experience, that it is worth the expense of courage to conquer the fear of being loved. To be truly loved and accepted is worth the chance of being rejected; of being pushed out of your comfort zone and encouraged to conquer other fears you may have; to allow it to help you offer it to someone else as well. The decision to be loved may be the most rewarding decision of your life.

As we wait for our sweet little Stella to fully embrace the love we all offer her, and we’re certain that she will, we will patiently continue to offer ourselves to her. To give her attention as she is ready for it, to provide comfort when she needs it, and even at times allow her the space she needs to prepare herself to take the next step. In the end, we know it will enrich all our lives.

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