Not that long ago I was in a relationship with an incredible man.
The relationship ended very abruptly, at least from my perspective (at the time). For all intents and purposes, this relationship looked pretty rock solid from the outside. I even felt like it was from the inside! I had created a checklist of my ideal partner and he pretty much fit the bill.
He was driven, happy, focused on personal development, had an amazing group of friends, had amazing goals for the future (but was also anchored in the present) and loved so big it hurt sometimes. In the relationship he was attentive, a great lover, generous, open hearted, adventurous, and the list goes on and on. We spent time together writing in our gratitude journals, listening to Anthony Robbins lectures, talking about how to show up for each other in the relationship in meaningful ways, and of course being silly and having fun. He wasn’t much of an outdoorsman, but was open and excited to learn and do new
things, as was I with his new projects. For a long time, it felt like we were a match made in heaven.
Then we passed the honeymoon phase and I started getting some feedback from him. It was difficult at times for me to decipher the feedback, which sometimes led to more difficult and uncomfortable conversations. He used to say that the way I responded to things he shared with me would feel dismissive or unsupportive.
Once, we were sharing stories on the way home from our first (and unfortunately last) road trip together. He shared a story about overcoming some major fears and insecurities around women earlier in his life, and in the end was able to come out with a girl on either arm (literally). He was wondering if I thought this would be a good story to share at an upcoming event he was speaking at. I quickly started explaining all of the reasons why I thought he had many other stories that would be more potent and appropriate for the event. I looked over and there he was, with that deflated look again, seemingly disappointed by my response.
He gently and kindly pointed out that I had done it again; I had responded with my opinions and judgments about his story, as opposed to encouraging, supporting and sharing in the powerful moment that story represented for him. Throughout the relationship, every time I shared something with him, whether it was a story, an insight, a dream, a goal for my future, a plan for my business, I was received with nothing but huge love, support, encouragement and praise for my special flavor of awesome. No matter what, every time. The thing is, I didn’t see any of this while I was in the relationship. I pride myself on being an insightful, introspective and talented therapeutic guide. But I wasn’t getting it, at all.
The other day I was on a run and had a flashback to that moment in the car when I told him I thought he could find a better story, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The reason I was unable to fully embrace and offer love in moments like this with him was because I was insecure and became defensive. The reason I was insecure and became defensive was because I was not able to fully embrace and offer love to myself. I was not seeing myself as the amazing and brilliant woman I am, so I was unable to see him that way. The reason it clicked in that moment on the run was because I felt the fullness of my brilliance shining through, and I was accepting myself on a much deeper level than I had been in the past. I was seeing my absolute perfect nature, perfect in all my imperfections, and it broke open a vault that was keeping me separate from others.
As silly as it sounds, in that moment my heart broke open and the grass looked more green, the sky looked a brighter shade of blue, and all of the beautiful people in my life became the perfect versions of themselves that I had been unable to see for so long. In that moment a deep lesson from that day in the car with my ex solidified into my core, and I thank him endlessly for that. And I thank everyone else in my life that I have been unable to fully love—unable to put my judgments, defensiveness and insecurities aside so that we could reflect the brilliance in us both entirely.
I am ready now. Ready to wholly honor and accept myself so that I can wholly honor and accept the other. Are you?
Author: Angela J Merrill
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Author’s Own