May 20, 2015

Sh*t just got Real: Relationships in your 40’s.

dating, relationships, wisdom
Relationships. Turns out it’s a pretty uncomfortable topic at any age.

This is one of those issues I’ve discovered doesn’t evolve or transition much with the years. We do as people. We learn and grow into full and abundant well rounded individuals. But the reality is that relationships come with all of the same vulnerable emotions that they did when we were just becoming adults, just becoming ourselves. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. Whether you are going into one, are in one, or coming out of one, the emotions are the same.

The only difference is how we respond to those emotions when they hit us and often overwhelm us.

I’ve had countless discussions with girlfriends (and guy friends, for that matter) over the years about those slippery lines when you’ve lived long enough to realize there are few absolutes, and often there is no right answer. There is just what you decide—and then living with what comes next. Do you offer forgiveness? See if it’s something you can grow through together?

Where is the line? When do you say enough is enough? Where does grace and faith in someone end and foolishness begin?

I’ve had many discussions about my ways of navigating relationships over the years, and the ways of my friends, when they were most desperate for some small feeling of control over themselves, their circumstances and their emotions.

But what if he doesn’t call? What if he hasn’t texted me? Is he waiting for me to contact him? Is he seeing someone else? Does he know how I feel? Shouldn’t I make sure he knows how I feel? More attention? Less attention? But what if he misunderstood? But how will I know? But…? But…? But…?

I can offer counsel to my friends on what to do if they ask my opinion based on my own experience and observations.

That’s easy. Knowing what you should do requires so little thought. Actually, doing it isn’t so hard either, with practice… Okay, it’s fucking hard. But if you dig in and do it anyway, you’ll be glad you did.

But living with it, I can’t tell anyone how to do that. For me, living with those choices, in the dark, in the quiet, in the shadow I can’t frighten away, to be utterly still, to do nothing, is often like a haunting I can’t outrun.

It is to stand in the eye of a hurricane and challenge my will and strength and courage to hold my ground til it passes, I know not when. As the wet soaks through the fabric and settles against my skin and the chill begins to creep across my arms and shoulders and back and then my legs and ankles and feet, and there is no mercy when it then burrows down toward my bones. It takes tremendous mental control to embrace that pain, having no idea when it will stop.

Some things just take time, and we have to find the courage to let them play out, knowing we could lose something we treasure, knowing there is a chance the other person will walk away rather than fight.

Being still requires an otherworldly vulnerability and strength.

For me, it is the hardest of the hard. Not only do you not know if he’d fight to keep you, chances are he doesn’t know if he would fight to keep you either. Because he’s never had to, if you’re always giving in. It’s something he needs to know as much as you do.

Yes. You’re worth it. Risk? Huge. Reward? Forever.

And there is no better time than today to be a little braver. Losing that person won’t destroy you. But staying with what this is doing to you just might.

What I would tell the 20-year-old version of me or my friends if I could have known then what I know now?

That relationships, and all that comes with them, are timeless? Liars and cheaters are like criminals—they look and sound just like the rest of us; if only they wore a sign around their necks, we’d at least have the option of avoiding them.

So that shit’s just gonna happen. How they treat you doesn’t define you. But it will if you allow that to become what you think of yourself. I have some of the most extraordinary single girlfriends. Gorgeous, smart, educated, funny, easygoing, fit and athletic, accomplished personally and professionally, stunning shining lights.

None of that is diminished by how some jackass failed to appreciate them.

Don’t beat yourself up; judge yourself only as harshly as you would your best friend. That, my dear, is perspective.

Put down the guilt and shame and regret and own the wisdom and knowledge deep inside of you.

Keep your hands free for what God wants to offer you.

And have a couple of girlfriends who hold you accountable. That’s the most valuable nugget of all.



Relephant Reads:

On Turning 50: Embracing Middle Age.


Author: Cristy Courtney

Editor: Renee Jahnke

Image: Hartwig HKD-Flickr


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