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February 14, 2011

How to Find the One.

Photo: Mariana Amorim

The One Lives Inside of You.

Just over 20 years ago I thought I had found The One. He was tall, strikingly handsome and extremely charming. He was intelligent and sensitive. He liked cats for goodness sake! He was a lover of children, took long bubble baths and was willing to give up watching football–for me!

“Oh my God,” I thought, “I have found The One!” I just couldn’t believe that I was his One too. Me? I never thought I would ever be anyone’s The One, let alone this smokin’ hot, super-sensitive, funny and charming superman! It was a drug more powerful than any I have ever known.

Anything I wanted to do he would do. Anywhere I wanted to go he would follow. We moved to Maine, we traveled to Spain. We got married (okay, that one took some convincing), bought a house and had a baby. I started a business and he became a house husband. I had a Mr. Mom and every woman was jealous of me. We lived in Italy, bought a cabin on a lake and had another baby. From the outside we were the envy of everyone who knew us, and even those who didn’t. We looked like we had it all: love, money, health and happiness. Over the years he told me over and over again, “you are the love of my life,” and yet, something was just not adding up.

In the early stages of our life together I recognized one powerful and important dynamic: I did not like the way I felt when this man spoke to me. I felt misunderstood, I felt stupid and most of all–I felt disrespected. I was young and hopeful, but the sinking feeling that I had in my body, mind and spirit when he spoke to me was so palpable that after one year of being with him, I had to say something.

“I don’t like the way I feel when you talk to me,” I told him, “and the only way to address this is to leave the relationship.” He was crushed. He cried and said he would change. He begged and pleaded for me to give him a chance. In the end, I couldn’t leave him. After all, he was The One. Finding The One means that there is no other. That’s it. The. One.

We began couples therapy and continued for ten solid years. Each therapist would say the same thing: “Well, it’s clear that the love is there,” but was it love, or was it just not wanting to let go of The One and end up with The None?

The years went on and he did not change, but I did. I became smaller, less strong. I felt so lucky to have someone to love me as much as he said he did. On top of that, he was able to see all of my flaws and was not afraid to point them out to me. He would make me a better person. He told me so often “you’re selfish” and “you don’t know what compromise is” and “you don’t know what it means to be in a marriage” and (the kiss of death), “you don’t know the meaning of the word compassion.”

How can it be that I simply did not see these things about myself? Over time, I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to be anywhere near a wretch like me. Thank the stars above that I had him to make me likable, tolerable and approachable. Just being near him made me better and, like finding a needle in a haystack, I felt like I had won the relationship lottery. I had found The One and boy, where would I be without him? Still, I found myself questioning and becoming angry. I judged myself for this anger because he loved me so much. Why couldn’t I just be thankful?

Like a dog that is hit repeatedly, he eventually believes he deserves the treatment and so had I become. The questions still remained but I gave up on doing anything about it. Perhaps my greatest moment of learning acceptance was in my marriage. I accepted my life, my husband, my marriage and what I saw to be my future. Many years had passed. We had two children, a life, a house in Maine–and I saw that there was no way out. I was in it, together, with The One for the rest of my days. Trapped.

Like that aforementioned dog that eventually snaps, I had a moment of rebellion and turned on my husband. In one last expression of my voice I sat him down and angrily declared, “I feel like I am married to an asshole, and I do not want to be married to an asshole.” I mentioned a few instances that I felt were especially “asshole-ish,” and his response to my pronouncement was, “I’m sorry that you think I’m an asshole.” We got nowhere. After that I kept silent.

Six years passed and we moved to Boston. I had discovered yoga, had a personal transformation and began to find my voice again. I began to see that though he was my husband, he was not The One, I was. I saw that I was the one needing to find the light inside of me. Only I could cultivate that feeling of love and acceptance, and it came from deep within. I founded an organization that helps women in crisis see their value, their worth and their light.

Eventually the things he said to me had less punch and I chose not to let them hurt me. When someone hands you a fork, you decide if you want to put it to use, toss it aside, or poke yourself in the eye with it. And so it was with the criticism, belittling and sarcasm that my husband sent my way. I simply did not make use of them as I once had.

He did not approve. I did not care.

Seventeen years after I had met this man I made a shocking discovery. For all of these years, this man had been telling me that I was the love of his life, that I was The One and that he didn’t know what he would do without me. I had felt 100% responsible for his happiness. I felt that if I left I would be the most cold-hearted person alive. I would be destroying another person’s life. Yet for the entirety of our  marriage, all of the years that I believed that this man was so much better than me, he had been living a double life. For real. To speak of the details of this would be giving it energy that I just don’t feel it deserves. It is enough to say that when I retell the story to people, they usually respond with comments such as, “Your life sounds like a Jerry Springer Show!” And yes, it does. It has also taught me some incredibly powerful and beautiful lessons:

1. Trust your intuition:

My intuition was speaking loud and clear in that first year when I felt something that just wasn’t right. My head, my ego and my insecurities allowed me to doubt that intuitive voice, all because I didn’t want to lose The One.

2. Your choices in life will reinforce what you believe about yourself:

Though I was not aware of it, somewhere in my deep subconscious I believed that I was desperately flawed. Being with my husband helped me reinforce this belief. I chose to stay. It doesn’t mean the way he behaved throughout our marriage was okay, but if I did not on some level have a false belief about myself, I would not have stayed.

3. The One lives inside of you:

There is no Prince Charming, no winning the lottery or magic bullet. Life is a process and experience of joyful times and challenging times. When you have found The One deep inside of you, your ability to navigate through all of these times with grace, acceptance and continuous learning happens naturally. You experience a freedom and a love that you may have never thought possible.

So on this Valentine’s Day I will be telling The One that lives deep inside of me how much I love and appreciate her. Without her, my life would be empty.

Relephant:

Maitri! Learn it, love it, do it:

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