What if everything that you thought was true was not?
As strange as this may sound, I have been actively and intentionally asking that question lately about life, love, relationships and even myself.
The first thing that I’ve noticed is when I really look at my life story, it’s clearly just that—a story. What I thought I knew is really just assumptions about the way things are and the way things are not held over from past generations.
The next thing I noticed is how limited my life has been by living that way.
In some ways, it makes a lot of sense to live by borrowing knowledge from the past. It is hardly efficient to reinvent all of what I think I know about life. In fact, it can be down right trippy and at times pretty disorienting to question the nature of reality and to ask the question, “What is?”
But what I am seeing by questioning all that I think I know to be true about love and myself, is the automatic nature from which I have approached relationships.
I’ve been a single mom for over six years now and I spent most of those six years thinking I either wanted to be or that I should be in a relationship. I told myself that my kids want a two-parent home and that a two-parent home is somehow innately better than our already-happy trio.
I’ve spent a lot of time imagining that being married is what other people want for me and I have spent a lot of time convincing other people it’s also what I want for me—and I have gotten a considerable amount of sympathy from people for not being in a relationship headed toward the altar.
What I now see though is that I’ve been single for six years not because I haven’t found Mr. Right or because there is something not right about me. I have been single mostly because I really like being single.
Okay, that doesn’t say it. I love being single. I love it.
I love the freedom I have as a single woman and I love the trio that is my family. I love that when my kids are with their dad and step mom, I live alone and I really don’t have any accountabilities or obligations to anyone. I don’t have to share space at the bathroom sink or room on the couch unless I want to invite someone into that space.
And I love being free to invite into that space whomever I want to be there; and who is there is all based on choice and never obligation or assumption—even if I make that same choice week after week, month after month, or even year after year.
This is about more than living a bachelorette life—though it would be easy to have this conversation devolve down into that. What I am talking about is really the nature of love.
What I have seen is that, not only do I relish independence and freedom, I also highly value love and meaningful companionship.
In the last six years I have been lucky enough to have the companionship of men who have meant a great deal to me. However, I was so busy at the time thinking I wanted something else (marriage), that I did not appreciate the considerable amount of love, joy, sensuality, friendship—and yes, even commitment—we shared.
What I now see is that love has nothing to do with the relationship I announce to the world by a ring on my finger or my declared status on Facebook. What I see is that true love transcends those labels and structures and the expectations that come with them.
When I allow love to take the course that love wants to take, beautiful connections with others get created. Connections that transcend anything that I thought was possible when I believed my family, relationships and love were supposed to look a certain way.
That is my story about what happened when I let go of my old assumptions about what is love, what is a relationship and even who am I.
What would be possible in your life if everything you thought were true was not?
Cristin Whiting, Psy.D., owns a private psychotherapy practice in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and teaches at Wake Forest University. Cristin is also the founder of The Power Pages website (www.ThePowerPages.net). When she is not creating evolution on the planet, Cristin can be found making homemade lemonade or camping out in a back yard tent with her two children and their dog.
Editor: Lori Lothian
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