To Love Fully, Surrender Your Story

Kelly L. Campbell
5 min readMay 8, 2020

How do we actually let go when our deep-rooted fears keep us anchored to the myth we’ve come to believe about what love is?

Alexander Milov. 2015. Love. [Mixed media]. Burning Man; Black Rock Desert, NV

As children, we’re taught by our parents or caretakers what love is, albeit inadvertently. We observe and absorb through osmosis how we’re supposed to "be" in order to have our needs met, to feel safe, and to feel a sense of belonging from those around us.

The inherent issue is that these so-called lessons only distance each of us from our True Nature. Essentially, we abandon ourselves in exchange for that longing for love. It’s the stuff of Greek mythology.

An act of childhood survival in the short-term determines many of our beliefs as adults about what love is: how it looks and sounds and feels, and how to disassociate from our values when giving or receiving it.

No upbringing was perfect, which is why we all have wounding that imprinted and fueled our beliefs, words and actions as we matured.

We spend a lifetime trying to reparent (heal) and reconnect with our own inner child to let little her or little him know that it's not only okay, but in fact necessary, to start communicating our wants and needs — especially when those reflect what we did not receive during our formative childhood years.

The Art (and Science) of Letting Go

In any new relationship that begins to feel like there’s real potential for a deepening sense of love and growth, our fears inevitably rise to the surface. Some of us appear doe-eyed, afraid of being hurt, rejected, or abandoned. Others run because we’re scared that we might hurt someone we already care about, or we’re so scared to let someone in because underlyingly we’re not sure we deserve unconditional love.

These represent only two of the ways in which our blueprint plays out when confronted with the reality of being seen or known for who we are for the first time.

Yet, if we can be brave enough to step into the arena, we have at least the opportunity to love fully. Those fears may end up manifesting into reality—that is a possibility because we cannot control our partner's story—but walking away before we can begin to discover our own capacity as individuals or as partners means that we're choosing to live a life that keeps us small.

The Question Becomes…

How do we actually let go when our deep-rooted fears keep us anchored to the myth we’ve come to believe about what love is?

When trauma lives in the body, releasing it and surrendering to vulnerability, triggers our nervous system. It sends us into the depths of fight, flight, freeze or fawn.

Pete Walker, M.A., MFT explains, "polarization to a fight, flight, freeze or fawn (4Fs) response is not only the developing child's unconscious attempt to obviate danger, but also a strategy to purchase some illusion or modicum of attachment. All 4F types are commonly ambivalent about real intimacy because deep relating so easily triggers them into painful emotional flashbacks."

Whether you grew up with a parent who was neglectful, absent or self-absorbed, took their own self-hatred out on you in the form of abuse, relied on you for their own happiness, or something else, it’s very likely that you default to one of the 4Fs.

My biological mother has a combination of borderline (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and her lean was toward verbal, emotional and physical abuse because I represented the little girl inside of her whom she loathed. As a result, I tried every which way to be perfect in order to earn her love. When my mother decided sixteen years ago to walk away from the relationship instead of going to therapy together, I was both blindsided and rejected. All fear of abandonment and loss of relationship slapped my face with an open palm while simultaneously delivering a closed-fist punch to the solar plexus.

As a fawn type, as Walker describes it, in emerging partnerships I hid behind a helpful persona, over-listening, over-eliciting or overdoing for the other — by giving and serving but never risking real self-exposure and the possibility of deeper level rejection that accompanied it.

This has been my primary work. I’ve immersed myself in shadow work and Buddhist psychology for the last year, and it is ongoing. Only in the last six months have I been able to practice healthy boundary-setting, able to show up more fully, and finally able to give voice to my fears before taking the risk to be vulnerable to potential pain.

With every interaction in our lives there is risk of getting hurt. But who wants to live half alive?

"Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability.”
– Brené Brown

A small life, one of illusory safety, is no longer the life I want to live. It is not the life I’m currently living.

Instead of a single slice, I want to know what it feels like to eat the whole fucking pie. I want to devour the entirety of life alongside a counterpart who meets me at the cross-section of afraid and willingness despite that fear.

For me that also means prioritizing my relationship with myself as they prioritize theirs, and then choosing each other out of love (versus codependency or fear) for exactly who we are. It means deep meeting. It means intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical connection on levels that most humans cannot even fathom. I believe that something this profound not only exists, but that it’s quite possible for so many of us to experience.

“When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.”
– Brené Brown

Loving fully is the transformation and transcendence of the story we’ve been force-fed and the one to which we’ve been tethered our entire lives.

What would happen if we pulled back the curtains of conscious awareness? Would we be able to keep telling the same narrative without feeling an undercurrent of untruth? Would that same story eventually feel so uncomfortable in our skin that we’d opt to actively practice change?

It takes a lot of energy, space in the mind, and stress on the body to live less-than-expressed. Do you think you could exchange all of that for letting go and working the muscle of risk tolerance?

To show up as our true selves in order to experience presence, belonging, and pleasure—isn’t that wholly why we’re all here?

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Kelly L. Campbell

Trauma-informed Conscious Leadership Coach to self-aware visionaries. Author of Heal to Lead. Founder of Consciousness Leaders. More at klcampbell.com