Saturday, December 27, 2014

Is Love Out There for Me?

What a constantly plaguing question that haunts single people everywhere.  

But it's also a useless, dangerous, stupid one.  

Not the typical response, I know. Trust me, I have been haunted by this question for the years after my divorce.  Before I met someone that I fell in love with, this question haunted me.  After that relationship ended; it haunted me more.  Because surely if that relationship ended I would never be lucky enough to find it again.  Stupid, I tell you.  The whole thought process is insidious.  

Because why on earth am I (and all the other single people who battle this question) banging our heads and hearts up against the unknowable?  What positive can possibly come over ruminating over this question?  I don't know the future in any other aspect of my life, why would the future be knowable in the area of my love life? 

I'll tell you what I have seen come from this plaguing question and our obsession with it.  We spend countless hours on dating websites shopping for that possible future mate that we may or may not find out there.  We go on so many first dates (or ask so many people out on them) that we have a first date wardrobe.  We think about (read: obsess over) why we do or don't make a great partner: our character flaws, how much money we make (or don't), how we spend our free time, whether or not we like kids, what our non-negotiables are, etc.  We read books or blogs or Facebook articles on love, relationships, sex, marriage, hoping to find the key.  We wonder how will we know it's for real, what do we want in a partner, will they tolerate sleeping with a fan on (because I am not giving that up), how will we make the love last once we find it?

All of this or at least most of it, produces nothing positive in our lives, we still go to sleep alone at night.  We still wonder if we're fundamentally flawed and that's why we keep getting rejected.  We still throw up those emotional walls and blockades that protect our heart when someone does start to get close to us.  In other words, we're no better off after we did all this than we were before.  Actually we're worse off, because now we have lost time, energy, money and some level of emotional health in this process.  

That's why you should quit.  Or at least that's why I did.  

I decided, I have a good life.  I have three awesome kids.  They are emotionally healthier now than they ever have been, including the period of time that I was in a loving relationship.  I have a family that annoys, I mean loves me, they're pretty cool.  I absolutely love my fitness routine, my gym time, my fitty friends and my new-found love of Obstacle Course Racing.  I am in a very fulfilling educational track at my seminary and I enjoy everything I am learning there and love the people there.  I have a few (read: maybe 3) good friends and I enjoy hanging out with them.  I have discovered I love going dancing.  I like sleeping in the middle of my bed, for real, the dead center, I'm not sure I can give that up for someone anytime soon.  My life is full.  I'm free to nurture my relationships with others and God the way I see fit.  I spend my money and my time how I'd like to.  I raise my children without outside interference.  I have a fantastic dog to talk to when I'm lonely.  This is all good.  

And if it's so good, why am I striving to find a man to complete it?  People (married friends of mine and single guy friends who are uninterested in dating me) tell me all the time what a fantastic catch I would be.  Some days that's encouraging, most of the time I feel like they're lying to make me feel better.  So I'm doing what emotionally is best for me and I'm taking a time out.  I'm deciding that whether or not love is out there for me is an unknowable.  All my energy being expended in this direction isn't going to make it show up one day sooner than it is ready to, if it's going to.  But what I can do is enjoy my life.  What I can do is maintain openness to all the blessings that are there in my life already.  What I can do is focus on things that make me happy, instead of spending energy emotionally on something that usually doesn't.  

I am still open, I haven't decided that I'm never going to go on another date or going to be in another relationship.  But I have decided that I'm not going to be out there looking for it.  If someone interesting asks (that I know in real life not the internet dating world) I might say yes, if I feel like it will be good for me.  Then again I might not because I might be eating clean that week and I may have already used my cheat meal.  Because it's not about saying "No" to them; it's about saying "Yes" to me.  Love might be out there for me, it might not.  Either way life is here now and it's to be lived, not survived until I find a man to join it.   It's to be lived now.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Is your relationship costing you? Good.

Perhaps it's true that the worthwhile relationships aren't always the ones you fall into with ease but instead also the ones that require hard honesty and awkward conversations. Because they have required something of you.

Yes. Yes that is true. 

The ease of the friend that has shared a lifetime with you or the familiarity of a lover that knew your every preference those are sweet and worthy to be invested in. 

But sometimes it's the person to whom you must speak. It's the relationship that still requires your voice months or years down the line. They don't know, we are familiar yet not memorized. We can be anticipated but not perfectly

These relationships; they require something of us. They require our risk and our words. We brood and hesitate we rationalize and excuse ourselves from speaking.  Our fears, our truths, our needs are terrifying things to give voice. But the catch in our spirit, the restlessness that disturbs our sleep plague us until we move our mouths and own our truth

What happens in that space is magic. Something actually hangs in the balance. We know that there is risk in speaking. But the pain of being silent; we know that cost is greater. If we speak and our truth isn't heard there will be a cost.

I have watched friends years, or a decade or more into their relationship forget what hangs in the balance.  They shifted along the way and began to speak to their partner with an unnecessary harshness.  An honesty, a using of your voice, that isn't scary for the speaker, it's used instead as a weapon, a stealthy weapon at times but a weapon.  It's unnecessary.  It is damaging.  They have also forgotten what hangs in the balance of owning their truth and how to do that with grace for both yourself and the other.

They have forgotten that the single life isn't all roses and sleeping in and quiet without children tearing up the house every single moment of the day.

They have forgotten that what they invested to bring their relationship to this point in time has both cost them and blessed them.  They only see the cost.

They have forgotten that having small children is the hardest time of your life and it's not your spouses fault, it's the cost of having children, there is also blessing.

They have forgotten that dating and finding that 'new' someone will consume you and cost you in a way that is as costly as maintaining the relationship you have now, perhaps even more so.  Only the new someone doesn't know how you like your eggs cooked and might turn their nose up at your weird habits and walk out the door.  And this will happen again and again and again, in your new supposedly better single life.  And if you think you'll just be cool with being single forever, talk to some people who have been doing that for a while, you won't, none of us are.  It drains us and we all trudge our way into the dating world regularly, hoping to find that something that you think is worthless that you have right now.

They have forgotten that their relationship gave them something in the beginning and what it has the potential to give them now is so much more.

They have forgotten that these things take work, but my God are they worth it.

It grieves this single mom to see friends in relationships that are unhappy that needn't be.  I don't struggle with the loss of a marriage when I know the partner was an abuser or a cheater or a hopelessly terrible narcissistic asshole.  But the ones that I see teetering on the edge, the ones that I see fail where both people are reasonably decent humans who loved one another at some point, those ones make me cry myself to sleep at night.  Because those are sad.  I think: you quit!  I understand how hard it was, I was married to a crazy person for a long time!  I get that marriage is work, but seriously, why the hell did you quit?!

Because the best relationships aren't the ones that are all ease all the time.  The best relationships are the ones where we daily step our toes to the edge of the precipice and say I'm going to give this my scary honesty again.  I going to give this my sacrifice, even if it means I have to take time away from something I love doing because I have decided this is worth it.  I'm going to step up to that cliff and speak my truth about the wounds I'm suffering and hope and pray that the other person gets it.  But even if they don't, I will be at peace knowing I'm handling my side of the bridge with grace and truth.  That I am giving this my all.
The best relationships aren't the ones that leave us in our comfort zone 95% of the time.  The best relationships are the ones that push us to become better versions of ourselves. There is the push to become better and then the pull back to center of calm, and comfort.  This too is our relationship with God if we choose to have one with him.  He pushes us beyond the center of calm and comfort.  Prodding us to become better versions of ourselves and then just when we think  we cannot take it anymore and this growing and stretching is total crap, he pulls us back to center.

Remember this season the gift of those you share your home and life with.  Remember how irreplaceable other people are.  Remember that at the end of our lives most of the regrets we will have will have to do with messing up things with the people that we love.  Take that risk, love that person a little more, walk up to the precipice and decide that a lack of ease in life doesn't mean it's not worth it.

<3 <3 <3 <3