This post is actually about my most recent break-up, which has taught me some lessons. I’m pretty sure the reflection will continue, but so far, there are a few things that stand out. I am no longer a child. When I was a child, I acted like a child. As I have grown older, I have put away childish ways of being. For me, maturing and becoming an adult means that I understand the ability that I have to make choices. I understand that my choices have consequences; that there is a cause and effect relationship between what I do and what happens. I’m choosing to learn from my choices. That being said, I made a choice to enter into a relationship, even though my gut was telling me something different. And there were consequences. Lesson number 1: Always follow your gut.
It’s been three years since my divorce. I have engaged men in the years since my divorce became final, but I had not been in an actual relationship until this summer. I had done lots of therapeutic work and had been praying for God to send me someone. I was feeling like everything in my life was going well and the only thing that we missing was a relationship. As I look back on my thoughts and feelings leading up to this summer, I realized that I wasn’t sure what it was I wanted. I thought that the right thing to do, the logical next step, was to engage in a relationship. So I chose to seek one out. Lesson number 2: When you are unsure of what you want or what you want to do, maybe you shouldn’t do any seeking. Maybe you should just be…
I realized pretty early on that, as much as I wanted to and tried to, I couldn’t let myself completely go. There was a little voice in my head telling me that this wasn’t the one. And I ignored it. See here’s the thing – I was tired of being alone. I am a 33-year-old divorcee and as much as I wanted to not fall into the trap of thinking that I needed a man, here I was living out something I didn’t even know if I believed in. The man I was seeing could sense this. He tried to be open and empathetic but as some point I realized that we weren’t doing each other any favors. I was holding back and he wasn’t getting what he ultimately wanted. Lesson number 3: When two people make the choice to stay in a relationship, even when their needs aren’t getting met, resentment builds.
So we kept going, trying to do the “adult thing” – to stick it out and to work it out and to have it out all for the sake of being together rather than being alone. That isn’t enough. And I started to notice that our arguments were fundamentally about the same thing. The seemingly smallest thing would lead to a pretty significant conversation or heated discussion that would always come back to the same issues. Lesson number 4: Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship but when you find yourself arguing regularly, pay attention to what the root cause is because it most likely is the same argument in different forms.
Ultimately, it all came crashing down, and not in a good way. Nothing is ever the fault of one person and I am clear about my role in why this ended. What saddens me is the way it ended. Things were said and actions were taken that showed my partner’s true colors. And it was hurtful, so much so that I didn’t recognize the person who was in front of me. Lesson 5: When resentment festers it turns to anger and things are said that can’t be taken back, ultimately leading to the demise of a relationship.
My fatal flaw is that I fall in love at the drop of a dime. My brother, my father, my friends, anyone in my inner circle can tell you that I love to love. And I love to be loved. I think that the fundamental issue in our world is that people don’t love themselves and therefore, can’t authentically love others. But here’s the thing I’ve learned – loving yourself and loving others, though sometimes painful, provides opportunities for growth. In it’s best form, love can awaken a soul and bring about healing and transformation that one could never have imagined. Loving also requires a certain amount of vulnerability. This is scary but necessary. So my final lesson? I’m going to keep on loving and learning and ultimately, living, but it might not look the way that I thought it would because I am at a crossroad.
Stay tuned for A Word on Choices…