I have been single without dating for over five years. Maybe my time has past. I feel like I am open but I live a perfectly secluded life. Getting out in the community I live in is my only plan of attack on meeting people. Going to our little gym and taking my laptop to our main clubhouse are two new activities to get out there.
Several years ago I renamed this blog to include friends and lovers because I know the main way to grow emotionally is through relationships. So weekly, I am going to include relationship posts from other blogs. Recovery means we change by being changed by others. I love those aha moments when I see an new way to be because someone cared enough to help me see.
1. From Patsie Smith: “Are You Frustrated in Your Search for True, Unconditional Love?“:
“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~Rumi
Have you ever wondered if there is such a thing as true love, like in the good old movies of Casablancaor The Notebook? Maybe you’ve found your true love. Or perhaps you’re still searching.
When I was a teenager, I was mesmerized by this dream that someday there would be someone who would love me so unconditionally that he would literally die for me. After all, you see that all the time in the movies.
After the tangible basics of food and water, love is our most essential need for surviving and thriving as a living being. We first experience love through our parents when we’re young. This lays the basic foundation for our growth and journey in life.
Since I was unable to recall being loved or shown any affection as a child, I held onto this dream that someday, somewhere, someone would truly love me. Subconsciously, this underlying desperate craving and desire for love drove all my relationships.
I expected romantic relationships to fill a spot deep inside me where there was a colossal empty hole. Whenever I fell in love, my heart would open up totally and engulf the other with an ocean of love. But my love came with a condition, that they should and would love me back unconditionally.
I’d asked my first true love once, “Why do you love me?”
He replied, “Because you love me so unbelievably much, I can’t not love you.”
That was my dream come true, or so I thought. I ended up marrying my true love, had three beautiful children, and committed diligently to a roller coaster ride of a nineteen-year marriage.
My marriage of true love had intense polarities similar to my emotions and mental states. I would swing from divine happiness when he met my expectations to the crushing and wrenching of my heart when my needs remained unfulfilled.
To avoid painful conflicts, I trended toward being accommodating and then slowly progressed into being passive and abject—just to make sure I would always have his love.
We shouldn’t let another person or event define our sense of self and worth, for this places us into the role of the lesser or the victim. When we play that role, then obviously we will attract or sustain relationships that will mutually fulfill that role.
This passive submission became quite natural for me, as my sense of worth was totally defined by my husband. I thought I knew he loved me, so I would do anything to maintain his approval and love.
The dynamics of our relationship remained such over the course of our marriage until I started to heal from my childhood past and my true self started to emerge.
Gradually as my true self of worth, esteem, and courage started to take shape, I started to look for respect and mutual understanding. This challenged my husband’s passive controlling role, and we started to drift apart.
2. From Tomeeka Farrington: “Healing From Heartbreak and Loving Life, No Matter Your ‘Status’”:
“Getting over a past relationship is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point to move forward.” ~C.S. Lewis
I recently stumbled into a clothing store where everything was full of life and color, until I saw the sales clerk.
She had obviously been crying. I perused the merchandise and hesitatingly asked her a question about an item. Tears welled up in her eyes and she said, “I’m sorry, I’m so overwhelmed. My boyfriend just broke up with me.”
I wasn’t prepared for that answer, but as I looked at her more closely I saw my former self in her eyes.
I had, in fact, been that same heartbroken girl a few years back. I can still picture my ex-boyfriend standing in his driveway just before the July 4th holiday, me with tears in my eyes. He simply said, “I’m sorry, I can’t be what you want” and got into his car to drive off to the beach.
Talk about devastation. I felt paralyzed, thinking, who will love me now? How can I continue life without being part of a relationship? What is my status?
It took a while, but I did manage to get through that hurt. Here are some of the small steps that I took to learn how to love my life, regardless of being single or in a relationship.
Give yourself a period to grieve, and then set an alarm to get moving again.
Just like the sales clerk, I cried until my eyes were blurry. I refused to see my friends and family, and I sent every phone call straight to voicemail. I even stopped eating because I lost my appetite.
That was okay for the first three days, but then I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that it was time to start functioning again. So, I literally set an alarm clock and chose the date and time that I would pick myself up off of my couch and return to the land of the living.
Obviously, relationships take time to heal and we have every right to mourn their endings, but once the grief consumes us to the point that we lose productivity, there is a danger of it leading into a much darker place, or even a depression.
So when that alarm went off I got up, took a shower, got dressed, and decided that even if I simply made it to the grocery store that day, or took a walk in the park, it was better for me than sitting home to sulk.
Of course, I still had bouts of tears and got down at times, but at least I was out of a place where I would solely focus on my pain. After a while my grief was still there, but it began to lessen.
Find a cause that captures your heart and throw yourself into helping.
I always wanted to adopt a dog, so I sought out a pet rescue organization online and adopted my very own dog. She was a handful, and the first week alone she broke out of her crate, howled all night long, and needed to be walked every fifteen minutes.
I was exhausted, but prioritizing her needs above mine forced me to stop concentrating on my problems. Occasionally, I sent the rescue organization photos to show how well she was progressing, and they asked me to write an article for their newsletter.
Before I knew it, I was volunteering my marketing skills to post Facebook and Twitter updates about adoption events, collecting old bed sheets and towels for other animals in need, and advising other families on pet rescue. To this day, that is the cause that captured my heart and helped me to become a passionate advocate of pet rescue.