The fingers typing these words belong to a high energy, deeply contemplative, juicy living, emotional bungee jumping, intuitive, creative, sensual, seasoned woman who will be 56 in October.
As I do when the anniversary of my landing on the planet approaches, I take an inventory of the events and experiences of my life. Never in a million years would I have anticipated viewing my existence from the perspective of a ‘party of one’ at this stage.
I was ushered to that table in 1998 when Michael, my husband of nearly 12 years died of Hepatitis C.
For the first five years after his passing, I remained celibate by choice; not ready to take another leap into love at that point. When I opened my heart again, it was with timidity and not vigor.
I was testing the waters with friends with benefits and then internet dating.
A few cyber connections ensued, leading to some fun dates and a lovely two year ‘heart friendship’ with a man who remains a close confidante to this day since our “full immersion five day first date” in 2006.
In the interim, I have had short term relationships, wonderful (and a few not so wonderful): lovers. I have both loved and loathed being single. I am in the ‘love mode’ right now, since I make my own schedule, come and go as I please, don’t need to answer to anyone else or take care of anyone else, as I had with Michael.
Our marriage was what I now think of as ‘paradoxical’…lots of love with nearly equal amounts of dysfunction. I wish we had both been as conscious and clearly communicative as I have learned to be since then. So much would have been different.
I still have conversations with him in my head, and on occasion, I receive answers. One recent talk occurred as I was taking an early evening walk. While the sun was dipping down over the still summer green trees, I heard myself saying to him “I wish you had been kinder and more patient.”
Had that been the case, I know our marriage would have landed more on the happy than the harried side.
If he had overcome the adage ‘hurt people hurt people’ and not permitted his own woundings to spill over into our relationship, if I had overcome my own co-dependent caregiver, people pleasing, emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people persona, then so much more love would have been expressed and deeper healing would have been possible between us.
As it was, some of our interactions and the theme ‘what I did for love,’ still haunt me and I need to shake my head and press the re-set button to clear them from my immediate awareness.
In a recent email conversation with a friend named Mali Apple who with her partner Joe Dunn teaches, writes and coaches about relationships and are co-authors of the book, The Soulmate Experience, I was expressing these fears and desires around attracting (or not) a partner:
Here are the fears that taunt me:
Another person with physical illness who I will take care of and then he will die.
Another man with major emotional wounds that I will attempt to heal but will spill out into our relationship
Someone who has a hard time accepting the new life I have created for myself over the years and will attempt to persuade me to give it up.
My own co-dependent gremlins sneaking back in.
Someone who will convince me he is one way and then morph into a monster.
My desires about another relationship include:
Someone who is a true partner who wants to share an amazing life together and is ready, willing and able to do it.
Someone who is stable emotionally, mentally and financially.
Someone who is willing to heal his own emotional boo boos with support.
Someone who expresses emotions safely and consciously.
Someone who sees the value in himself so he can see the value in me.
Someone with similar world-view and mindset.
Someone who has a heart and is unafraid to put it on the line or use it well.
Someone who is patient and kind to those in his life.
Someone with a good relationship with his family of origin.
Someone with whom I can blend hearts and lives and still maintain our autonomy.
Mali’s loving response sent tears cascading down:
“My first thought is, isn’t it true that our own fears are our worst demons?
I find this even in the day-by-day continual creation of a deeply connected partnership: I have to be aware of them seeping in, trying to get control of my thoughts and responses, then I have to watch, reflect, and eventually expose them, like a continual cleaning process. As you know, things do get cleaner and clearer through the process…
I appreciate that you say your “desire” and not “wants” or, heaven forbid, “needs.” Countless are the times now that I’ve seen someone meet a truly perfect “match” for them who simply did not meet their list—and it turned out better because of it.
Case in point, a woman we interviewed for our first book who almost stopped dating someone because, although truly amazing in every other way and absolutely in love with her, he was not at all financially stable and in fact quite in debt. We had a long session and she saw that she herself could remain financially stable while continuing to get more serious with him, did not have to feel he was pulling her down, and could even teach him how to get there himself if he was interested (because she felt so confident in that area of her life) without taking on his mindset or debt. She was very excited about that idea; relieved.
Two days ago, I saw on Facebook that they’d gotten married. I only mention this because I met Joe when I’d finally given up idea that I knew what I was looking for: I was truly open for and completely trusted the universe to bring me the perfect thing, no more getting in the way with my ideas. I’m not recommending this approach to you or anyone specifically; just offering it up as an idea.
As for fears two and three on your list, I think you can throw these fears out. You’re very clear; I don’t believe you will attract or be attracted to this at all.
And fear four, your gremlins? If they’re still in you (I don’t believe they sneak “in” from the outside, but if still not completely healed, come “up” from the inside), a clear, safe, loving relationship is the place to allow them to arise and then shine the light of your combined consciousnesses on them to, finally, dissolve them.
That leaves fear one. All I can say is that if you find another soul you’re deeply connected to, this possibility, which is a possibility for all of us, may come up—and you will use it for your own growth as best you can. It is not a fear that would keep me from a relationship, but I do understand.”
I know that there are those about whom I can paraphrase the iconic line from When Harry Met Sally “I’ll have what they’re having.” I refer to them as ‘transformational power couples.’
These folks are a greater force for good in the world as a result of coming together and are true partners in every way, enjoying the dance of love, even if they sometimes inadvertently step on each other’s toes.
Wondering what is keeping me from knowing that someone is out there in the world who is waiting for me to be ready too. I teach this stuff, write about it, speak about it on my radio show, and am a minister who marries people, so my work truly is all about relationships.
There are times when I feel like I am standing on the verge of it; like being at the end of a diving board about to take the plunge and then step back for fear that there won’t be enough water in the pool and I’ll conk my head on the bottom OR that the water will be so deep that I will drown.
Ironic analogy for someone who was a lifeguard in her 20’s and who was in poly/overlapping relationships back then with a few monogamous pairings throughout that decade.
I am in a much better place to be in relationship than ever in my life. I am taking better care of myself since an unexpected heart attack in June, slowing down to enjoy every day, rather than rushing through it to get to the next activity.
I am financially stable and my stress level is waaaayyy down, since I started a job this summer that enables me to work from home, doing what I love—writing full time.
I have amazing friends and family who would applaud wildly when he arrives. I have also realized that I need to embody the qualities that I wish to attract. If I want someone who is fit and healthy, it behooves me to live that way. If I am calling in a partner who is honest with his feelings, then I had better be willing to do so as well.
Letting go and trusting in Divine timing and that when given the directorial cue, he will join me on stage and we will dance a pas de deux.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: mathiasbarbagallo at Flickr