When I was a little girl with a mouth full of crooked teeth, a face sporting thick, ugly glasses framed by an atrocious boys’ haircut, and a total lack of fashion sense, I was bursting with beautiful, romantic dreams.
Visions of my future life filled my mind and desires of love and family blossomed like a fertile cherry tree in springtime. Among all of my steadfast hopes and wishes, never did I think, “Gosh…I wish I could get married and divorced multiple times!”
And yet, that is precisely what happened.
I could labor over the myriad of details for you—how it unfolded, why things went the way they did—and then it might finally make perfect sense. You might nod in agreement and confirm that maybe I am not a terrible person after all. You might understand everything that I went through and concur that it all turned out for the best and that I am, indeed, still a genuinely good person with a kind and pure heart.
But do you know what?
All of my explanations have expired because I have grown exhausted seeking justification in order to avoid judgment. Frankly, darling, I don’t give a damn.
And not giving a damn is the only way to overcome criticism and its impact on how you see yourself.
I am done with feeling like I am being labeled as a bad person for following my heart, for loving fully and completely, and trusting that life (and love) will work out in my favor. Do we condemn babies when they are trying to learn to walk? Do we judge them for not stepping right the first time, or even the next 20 times? And who would we be to judge that anyway? How do we know if the missteps our precious little ones took weren’t what created the mysterious neurological connections in their brains that finally led them to the ability to walk upright, on two legs, like a champion?
I’m laughing right now because as I am writing this, I know, without a doubt, that those questions don’t even matter. Those are actually just surface-level questions. The real subject I want to examine is this:
Who are we to say that when something doesn’t last forever that it’s a failure?
How are well-meaning, salt-of-the-earth people transformed in the public eye into flakes, hussies, losers, or shallow people just because a relationship ran its course and the time had come to move on? And why do we denounce others for trying yet again, when the past has crumbled into dust? Do they no longer deserve a future just because their story hasn’t lived up to our expectations (or those implanted in us by the media)?
Belonging is a common human need. It’s actually rated on one of the lower ladder rungs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. According to his findings, belonging is a basic need and we cannot begin to self-actualize until we feel that step has been completed.
To be cast out of “good standing” in society because a relationship didn’t last forever adds insult to injury. To be judged because one has enough courage to let love in again afterward is insane. Where does this madness arise from? Because say what you like, but I can hear the whispers of discrimination as my new life path unfolds with (yet) another man after I have already been married (and divorced) three times.
Would it be better if I spent the rest of my days as a stereotypical cat lady? Should I shut out love, romance, and a relationship just because some men moved on in their lives without me, and the story didn’t go exactly as I dreamed it would, or as the movies dictated they should?
When I notice things “out in the world” that trigger me so deeply, I immediately start asking myself, “Where within me is this coming from?” After so many classes, courses, workshops, hours of meditation, self-connection, awareness, and introspection, I have decidedly learned that the discomfort I feel always comes from a deviation from my own inner truth. Part of the journey of overcoming criticism is caring about our opinions of ourselves over everyone else’s.
When I stop and really look within, what I find is a deep and powerful fear. My monkey mind is screaming to my soul the possible existence of a red-hot, five-alarm emergency:
“Don’t you dare go there again! Look! Here is your past and here are the outcomes from that, and please, please, please don’t set yourself up for another heartache! You won’t survive another loss! Surely as the sun comes up every morning, you will die if you try and ‘fail’ yet again! Besides, what will people think of you? What will they say? And who are you to ever really have everything you ever wanted anyway? Just stay safe, be in the comfortable, predictable world you have designed for yourself, and be grateful for that much. Settle…”
Somewhere along my rocky and challenging journey, my soul expanded to become exponentially greater, larger, and more powerful than my monkey mind and other people’s criticisms. That does not mean I am suddenly immune to either; it’s just that I have decided that on a daily basis, I will actively place first priority on my soul’s greatest purpose, instead of being led by the opinions and expectations of others or listening to my well-meaning ego.
I have committed to keeping my heart open and alive. I refuse to reject myself just because others are rejecting a part of themselves. (Because any judgment really is a rejection of oneself, on a deep, honest level.) I will love harder and stronger, and allow love to find me and consume me until I am spent.
Is there really any other point of this glorious life?