For the past 10 years I've been living in New York specifically in Brooklyn where I own a small boutique called Su'juk. Prior to that I was raised in North Carolina with my mother and sister. We immigrated over to the Carolina's when I was 5 years old from Turkey. My mother did the best she could with us when she brought us to this country in 1992. But being like most immigrant stories, it was hard. She barely spoke the language, we were broke and she had two girls that depended on her. She for the most part succeeded. My sister and I ended up going to top universities and traveled back to Turkey every summer to visit family. But while my mother was busy working so hard trying to give us the life she couldn't have, she lost her way. I try hard not to blame her, but the way she loved us was so erratic. One minute we were her everything and the next we were thrown aside. And I know why she did this. She was so young when she had us and didn't have much time to work out her own issues. This kind of love made me grow up so afraid of being vulnerable particularly with men. I'd wake up everyday and keep in constant motion so I could prove I was strong, independent and unhurt. I would act tough and never relied on my boyfriends to help me. So when I met my last partner things took a turn.
He was tall and handsome. Had a sweet smile and I felt so safe with him. I was vulnerable and unafraid to show him who I was. And he greeted me with open arms. And I fell. I fell so hard that I opened my well guarded heart for him and shared my most intimate self. After several months of what felt like pure bliss, I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I had hit the jackpot. I found the only man around that was aware of who he was and loved only me. He didn't seem to have a care in the world where or what he was doing as long as we were together. I had never experienced that kind of love before, and frankly it felt so needed. For me love had always been so unattainable from my mother and I had barely witnessed it from my father, so when he took me in I just closed my eyes and allowed it to happen. After three months together he followed me back to New York and we talked about marriage and kids and our future. It was all happening so fast and I had barely any time to question it. Everyone was cautious for me, but me. And closer to our first year anniversary things started drastically changing. His warmth went away. He started dissolving into thin air and the man I exposed so much of myself too became a stranger. He cared less and less and I started building up my walls again. I'll never know why he made me believe that this was all real. Maybe it was what he felt in the moment, maybe he wanted a ticket to America or maybe I was conned. I don't think I'll really ever know what happened. However I think the song by The Main Ingredient says it best:
"Everybody plays the fool sometime
There's no exception to the rule
Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel
I ain't lyin', everybody plays the fool
Falling in love is such an easy thing to do
And there's no guarantee that the one you love
Is gonna love you"
What I was able to gather from this experience was that firstly there was no magical man that would make all your troubles go away. And that I wanted deeply to be loved. The kind of love I wanted was the one that wouldn't run away when they saw me exposed knee deep in my defense. I can be mean, I can be hurtful. Because truthfully I know that behind my big smile lies some ugliness. I know what you're thinking... this is a lot for a guy to handle. Maybe unrealistic. But I believe that I am not my armor and I know there is some real softness inside of me. These battles I've had to fight have made me scared of humiliation. And the hope I have for myself is that there is someone out there brave enough to hold me in my struggles and to stay.
I don't have the answers but what I do know is all you can do is to continue working on yourself and moving forward. Don't dwell on regrets and hurt but learn from them and try not to repeat them. Sometimes I think my body saved itself by forcing me to learn this lesson because it's teaching me to surrender. And for the first time in my life I don't know what will come next. I don't have any escape planned. I keep telling myself "Sit still, Su." It's a lot harder than it sounds for someone who's been on the run their whole life. But maybe, just maybe, those years of running have prepared me to relax into my own submission.
The journey is to be continued...