A few years ago I divorced my husband of 12 years. It was a painful process for both my kids and I, and one that challenged me to look deeply into my Self to learn how I’d created that life and what choices I needed to make differently in order to create an entirely new experience of what relationship could be. Growing up, I didn’t have good role models. An absent father, and two abusive step-fathers didn’t imprint the most positive perceptions of men in my mind and I did what so many other women before me have done – I recreated what I grew up with because well, I didn’t know any different. But now, in my mid-30′s I became determined to create something different.
If you’ve been through an abusive relationship of any kind, you’re familiar with the process of rebuilding your Self from the inside out, as well as the very real danger of falling into the same pattern all over again. I’d watched my mother do this, and while I won’t say I’m immune (I’m human and I can’t tell the future), I am willing to do whatever it takes to prevent such a repeat in my own life – I believe my children and I both deserve better.
During the healing process though, there were several points at which I became aware that I was at a cross-roads. To create a truly fulfilling relationship, I would need to learn how to be emotionally vulnerable in a healthy way. At the same time, my commitment to not repeating my past meant that one of my options was to simply shut down and build walls around my Self, my life, and my heart. No relationship might be better than another bad one. It was very tempting to just shut down.
It was about that point when I was watching a movie with my kids. It showed the life time of love and happiness between a couple who obviously had that kind of relationship that we dream about. And, it showed his depth of grief when he lost her to an illness. I remember seeing this old man crying on screen and thinking, “Yes, I’d welcome that pain – even that depth of pain – if it meant I’d spent a life time living with that depth of love. I’d make that trade.”
I decided to remain open, to heal, to learn, and to grow. I began dating again and enjoyed being treated well again. It also taught me about myself – what I wanted and didn’t want from a relationship, as well as how to give voice to those wants. And when things didn’t work out, I learned that even while it might hurt, it still felt better than accepting what I didn’t want and I felt myself getting stronger.
Then there was the one I fell for, the one who broke my heart, the one who brought me back to questioning just how much I really wanted to remain open or shut down and remain safe. He was the one who pushed me to the next level. That experience made me look even further into myself and make an amazing commitment: I was done dating. Instead, I asked the Universe to show me how to create my dream of having that one amazing relationship and I would do my part to learn, grow, and make room in my life for it. And I decided to remain open. I decided that the pain of heart break was a trade off I was willing to make if it meant I could experience love so profound.
The next day, an emailed showed up announcing a class titled, Calling in the One. I registered. Over the next 8 weeks, I looked deeper into my own beliefs around relationships, men, and my own self-worth than I’ve ever looked. I learned how to release the past, redefine my own assumptions, and begin to consciously create the dream I held for myself. The image of that old man crying came to mind often, and while I felt empathy for his pain, I also felt inspiration to keep moving forward. I wanted to experience the blessings his tears expressed.
That class began in April 2011. In June, I reconnected with someone from my past I’d once loved dearly but had parted ways with. My intention in reconnecting was to release the past. To be honest, I’d actually assumed he’d forgotten who I was after 17 years, despite the three years we were together. We both laugh about that now. Somehow, in our conversations about the past we began a new future together, discovering that what we’d had then we still had now, except with far more maturity and depth. He moved in in early November.
We have our day-to-day challenges like any family does, but our relationship is nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I feel safe enough to be vulnerable – and safe enough to stand up for my own needs. And he responds with respect and kindness.
While I can’t tell the future, I know that no matter what this road looks like it will eventually have it’s end. Whether that end means each of us going our separate ways at some point, or whether that end is because one of us has come to the end of our life time, I don’t know. But I do know it will hurt, deeply. And I know that the tears that will be shed will reflect the depth of the blessings we’ve experienced together for however long we have. And I am grateful for that.
With any dream there comes a trade-off. The pursuit of that dream will test you, challenge you and transform you in ways you couldn’t know until you’re in the middle of it. And the outcome is never guaranteed. But the experience itself – the pursuit itself – is worth it. It makes us a better person. It teaches us, helps us grow, and makes us stronger in ways we could never imagine.
And once we have earned one of our dreams, somehow, despite all the challenges, frustrations, and even pain along the way, we look at ourselves in the mirror and realize just how much we’re capable of. Then we begin to form a new dream, knowing now the road that lays ahead, and knowing that no matter what the naysayers say, that the next journey will be worth it to – no matter what the outcome.
Are you willing to be transformed to have your dreams come true? Are you willing to trade your sense of safety and security in order to discover what you’re truly capable of?
It’s worth it.