My first personal post. Felt like I had something to say…
Revelation from the Rubble
Three years ago my world was obliterated…
Revelation from the Rubble
Three years ago my world was obliterated. My relationship of nearly nine years came to a sudden end, and with it, all the dreams I had for a loving family with my best friend and partner. Though I was proud of accomplishments and aspirations in other areas of my life, those who know me know that the hope for a future family is my biggest wish. As a child I believed in things like everlasting love and, though my own home life was far from perfect, I believed that healthy, loving families are real, and could even be real for me one day. I met my husband when we were teenagers, so all of my adult life I also believed these things. I not only believed them, I began to plan on them. I married him; I was actually living those plans. They were real. And then they were not. Upon having this most important thing ripped away, I didn’t know how I was going to get through the loss. I had unexpectedly found myself so far off course I felt directionless; the realization of my absolute displacement hit hard. Those were dark times.
Though I felt like I was reeling, it surprised my friends and no one more so than me how well I was able to pick myself back up and move forward, focusing on other areas of my life and on what was going well. My close friendships grew and became deeper. I loved my two dogs tremendously. I heaved what energy I had into working toward achieving other dreams. I taught a class for the first time. I completed the doctoral degree to which I had been working for five years. A day before the six month mark of losing my marriage, I was offered my first job in my new career. I met someone else and had a rocky relationship, but one that was wonderful in its own right, for the better part of the past three years. I founded a successful social group. I bought my first home. As a personal project, I recently started writing this blog. Last month, I officially joined my church. I’ve learned immeasurable and invaluable lessons about my inner strength, as well as confronted areas in which I needed to do some work and make some changes. My friends are proud of me. Thinking back on all that has happened in the past three years, I feel proud too. I’ve accomplished a lot and grown so much.
When I first started reflecting on all of this, though, a question popped into my head from out of nowhere: “yes, but would you trade it all to have love like that again?” You know the dilemma, the ubiquitous question, “which is ultimately greater?” The question really troubled me, and I don’t mind admitting that the reason why is because my immediate thought was that of course I would trade it all, that love and the promise of building a family out of love are the things I want most of anything. Inside of me, dark, ominous clouds converged and I could feel despondency setting in.
And then I had a second thought. Would I trade it all? Well, wait a minute. Just as quickly as they came, it was like I could feel a clearing in the clouds, a brilliant ray of sunlight powering through. Would I trade it all? It’s taken me all this time to realize that’s not the point, because life doesn’t work that way; there are no trades. It is, and will forever be, experience on top of experience. Good on top of bad, and bad on top of good.
So am I glad for the pain I’ve experienced and the lessons I’ve learned, because they’ve made me wiser and stronger? I wouldn’t say I’m glad for them. But I appreciate them. So would I trade it all… I need to just lose that question, banish it from the realm of valid thoughts. And I don’t know, maybe some of you, like me, needed to hear that? That’s why I’m sharing this, in hopes that my jumbled up life, but hopeful state of mind, will resonate and maybe even make a difference.
I’m at a good place with my career these days. Same with my friendships, and sense of community. My relationship with my family is better than it’s ever been. I know what my interests are and am able to pursue them. By any definition, I am fortunate.
And what about finding my lifelong partner? This experience continues to elude me. I’m still lost. As much love as I have to give, I’m guarded. I’m afraid of new experiences with new people, de-motivated by the discomfort of them. I’m afraid that I’ll never be in love again.
These thoughts are truly sobering to admit and to confront. They bring me down sometimes. It’s been years, and I haven’t found my way back to that path that once seemed like it was my, and everyone’s, inalienable right. That path that guarantees that if you live right, and treat others well, and are open to love, that you will earn and arrive at ultimate happiness. In fact, I haven’t found my way back because whatever path I was on wasn’t that one; I’ve discovered that path doesn’t even exist. And that’s terrifying to know. I want to be clear: what I now know is that the path to guaranteed, fairly distributed happiness does not exist. Instead, I think there are multiple paths to happiness, none of which are guaranteed or distributed at all, let alone fairly, all of which must come into being through choices and perspective. And, I think above all, through acceptance. Acceptance of what is, not reflection on what could have been or what you’d rather. And acceptance that at the same time, as long as you’re not banking on it, it’s okay to hope.
It’s profoundly difficult knowing that I have so much I want to give to someone I haven’t found yet. But in choosing to focus on the things I do have, and the things that are in my control, my dream of a lifetime of a loving partnership and family doesn’t have to die. I’d be a fool if I didn’t learn from my experience that life can change in the blink of an eye; in fact, I now realize the defining moments in most of our lives—bad and good— usually happen exactly like that.
But in the meantime, there’s a lot of life to live. By no longer invalidating all my experiences, accomplishments, and personal growth by allowing myself to consider the question, “would I trade it all?”, I think I’m handing a compass to that lonely wanderer inside of me. I don’t know what I’ll find, and I suspect the paths won’t be clearly marked like I had once believed, but I think I’m headed in the right direction. I think I’m allowing myself to pursue happiness not unburdened, but unfettered. I think I’m asserting that to feel incomplete can be as inspiring as it can be painful. I think I’m choosing appreciation over expectation, and perspective over fairness. I think I’m allowing myself to truly celebrate, unconditionally, all that’s going well. I’m choosing acceptance for what is. I’m also choosing hopes and wishes. Bad has certainly been piled on top of good, and then good on top of bad. Altogether, it can feel like a lot to carry. But today, I’m feeling strong and energized for the journey.