I was having dinner with my aunt and uncle, and inevitably, as he always does during these meals, he sidles up to me and asks, “So when are you going to get a ring on that finger?”
He wouldn’t say it directly to me, but he’s concerned about my future. In his era, a woman’s financial stability was tied to landing a husband—bonus points if he was a hard worker, had a good amount of acreage, and someone who would make a good fishing partner.
He’s also concerned about my happiness: How can someone be happy without a lifelong partner?
I still want the rich and raw intimacy of a lifelong partnership that’s fully honest and open. I want to have at least one child. I do want these things, but the last thing I want is a relationship whose foundation is based on co-dependent neediness, or blind desire from my cultural conditioning.
The irony is, I am happier than I have ever been in my life, and it’s not because I’m in the euphoric haze of romantic love. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because of all the times it didn’t work out.
Our greatest friends and lovers are those who awaken us. Those who make us more alive. Our greatest teachers show us what we don’t want, and in the not wanting, there is a place for non-judgment and gratitude for the gifts of learning what we do want, and excavating more of who we are, and who we are becoming.
I want to honor each relationship (romantic and non-romantic) without defining it as a failure because it didn’t last forever.
I want someone to meet me in their fullness, and likewise, I meet them in mine. I want to take off all the masks, and strip away what’s not authentic and true in all of my relationships. I want to confront myself and awaken. Even if it lasts for a week, or a moment to stop rehearsing and rehashing, and show up on the stage of life. And knowing when to take my cues—knowing when to hold on and what to let go. I want to master this in all of my relationships. For me, this mastery is the real Cinderella story.
“My heart is at ease knowing that was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.” ~ Imam Ash-Shaf’i
One of the great benefits that comes with life experience is having gratitude for the things that didn’t work out in the typical way we view happily-forever-ever-after in our culture. In fact, those relationships served their purpose and were a tremendous success even if that meant they took different forms, or necessitated the need to love someone from a distance.
It all worked out. Knowing the right timing and rhythm of when to hold on and when to let go is the real fairy tale ending (and beginning).
Author: Kristi Kremers
Editor: Emily Bartran