New relationship…broken heart…woe is me, life sucks!
New relationship…so-called love…engaged…this won’t work, time to end this things…broken heart, maybe, sigh of relief, definitely, tears, yes, lots and lots of them…time out for just me, growing my career, having fun with family and friends, becoming a better me…life is great!
New relationship…wait a minute, this guy is really nice and he really likes me…ummmmmmm…my life is great, now what? Love…really, love? Uh-oh…I don’t do all of those mushy emotions…until now!
It’s Valentine’s Day week…everybody is supposed to be excited about the love of their life! I’d say that I am! But, when I think about the past 7 or 8 years of my life in terms of love and relationships, this hasn’t always been the case, my life has been a seesaw experience. There have been incredible high and incredible lows, but I wouldn’t change the experiences that I’ve had for anything! I have learned and grown so much because of them, and I can honestly say that they have made me better.
What did these experiences teach me?
I learned to how to be a self-sustaining adult. I used to think that my success and my ability to fulfill my life dreams and goals was dependent upon the presence of somebody else in my life. If my parents were no longer my support system, I needed a man in my life to be my provider. I believed that my singleness and being a woman would never allow me to reach greatness, so I sulked thinking that I would never be more than average. I thought I would never be a homeowner, I thought I would never be a mother, and I thought I would never have the finer things in life all because I believed my life depended on another human being holding my hand through life’s journey. Flawed thinking and a reflection of low self-esteem, but thank God for growth and maturity!
I learned to love myself. For a long time, I only found joy in the presence of other people. I feared going to the movies alone or treating myself out to a restaurant. I was reluctant to be the person who was dateless at a party and I was always jealous of the people in my life who found themselves in a relationship, healthy or unhealthy. I always wanted what those couples had! Sadly, because I had unrealistic expectations of what a “good” life looked like, I spent many days down and depressed, when I truly had many things to rejoice over! Despite what I thought, I had a really good “sometimes single” life!
I learned how to make decisions for myself. I have always loved my family, and for many years I had a family first mindset. I did not waver from that thought process. If my family called, I was going to be present. I would miss functions with friends, significant others, or anyone else for my family. My own life was not my priority, pleasing my family was. And while, I still love my family a great deal, I also now have healthy boundaries in place. I’m not going to let anyone be in harms way, my folks can always count on me in a pinch, but I’ve also learned how to consider myself when I make decisions. I no longer feel obligated to go along to get along.
Perhaps, most importantly, I learned about the things that do not define love. I used to have an image etched in my mind of what picture perfect love looked like! He was tall, dark, and handsome (and likely from another country)! He had a high-paying job, and was a homeowner before he met me. All of the ducks were in a row in his life in my fantasy. But I learned that love isn’t necessarily what we fantasize. Love is not linked to a certain career. Love is not linked to a certain salary. Love is not linked to a certain family history. Love is not linked to a college degree. Love is not linked to a certain physique. Love is not linked to a certain neighborhood. Love has nothing to do with a lot of things we have been conditioned to believe it is linked to. No, love really is patient and kind, selfless and forgiving, compassionate and supportive. Love is hard and challenging, it takes serious work, but love is wonderful if it’s true and one opens up to the experience…
I’ve discovered that true love isn’t perfect, in fact, sometimes you want to give up because it’s easier. But, I’ve also discovered that true love is always seeking to be the person that you need him (or her) to be. True love wants to support you and encourage you and be present for you even if he (or she) cannot change a thing about your circumstances. True love admits that he is only human, but, true love also declares that in his humanness, he always seeks God first, so He can refine his imperfections so he can strive to be perfectly aligned with God’s will for his life and the relationship.
Years after feeling sorry for myself, years after feeling so much hurt and pain, I’ve come to appreciate all of my life experiences because they have prepared me for my present place in life. I’m still not perfect, but every hill and every valley taught me how to embrace love. On the other side of these things, I’ve come to appreciate that I was never ready for the “loves” that I thought were for me in those earlier seasons of my life. No…God was preparing me for a love that was worth waiting for! Now, we shall see where the journey leads us…