Sunday, July 24, 2016

Last Stop: Reconciliation Station

I walked away from a three year relationship a year ago this weekend. I felt peace around the decision, though my heart felt great pain. The love I felt for this man was one I’d not ever felt for any other man. But in my heart of hearts, emotional intelligence knew the relationship wasn’t what it needed to be, nor what I deserved.

Knowing that truth didn’t ease the intense heartache I felt, or the emotions of grief from the loss.

The relationship was a good one – we enjoyed each other’s company and I laughed more often than I ever cried. I was treated well, as the man I love was generous in many ways, supportive and caring. Other than a few times when he felt (I realize in hindsight) cornered into an emotionally uncomfortable situation, he was kind, gentle and respectful towards me with his words. His relationship management choices were not always so respectful toward me and my feelings, but again, with 20/20 hindsight vision, I recognize how some behaviors and actions supported his goal of compartmentalizing v. integrating me and our relationship in his life.

My feelings for him were like none I had ever felt for a man. I loved him unconditionally, despite his unproductive choices and actions in our relationship. The decision to end our three years together was hard given the fact that I love the man. It was a good decision, regardless of my heartache.

For a year leading up to that decision, I struggled with how things were between us, and that we were not heading in the direction I had been repeatedly reassured we were going. Add to that the pink elephant in the relationship: his non-expression of love for me. Year Three opened the blinds to shine the Light of Truth on the situation. Initially, I chose to hide in the shadows for a while, not wanting to see the reality of our relationship. The Light continued to expand and reveal the truth of “what is”, and still, I chose to turn my eyes away, blinding myself, and others with excuses I made for him on his behalf. I argued with myself, claiming that I needed to be more patient. I was just fooling myself and making a fool out of myself. Deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew the truth. Once I chose to face the Light, look more closely at our relationship and the man I love, doubts created the stepping stones I needed to walk toward the hard reality: this man wasn’t that into me, and worse, he and I didn’t really have a future together as he’d led me to believe.

For several months, I questioned him about our future, seeking relief from the glaring light of clarity. There were temporary moments of shade, but the heat of truth burned upon me over and over again. In the month leading up to the perpetual Moment of Truth, I eventually realized I had two choices: miserably continue in a relationship that was real to only one of us, or live in greater self-respect and peace without the man I love.

A year later, I made that difficult choice, and its heartache remains an emotionally wise scar in my memory and heart. Fortunately, the grief and pain are not as intense, and my thoughts are less consumed by the loss, though I think fondly everyday of the man I love. I miss him and his friendship. I’m realizing I can still love him, but just not be in a relationship with him. I’m learning I can share my heart brimming of love with others – my beagles, my family, friends, the children I serve at work, strangers, and most importantly, myself. I’m learning that there are many people in my life who value and appreciate me, my heart and the love it offers. Today, I close in on freedom from any of resentment around this experience. I realize I must find forgiveness for him; and self-forgiveness for allowing myself to love and believe him more than I loved and believed in myself. This I can accomplish through unconditional love for us both.

I recently heard a speaker discuss the difference between reconciliation and resolution. Resolution involves rehashing everything, which I am absolutely uninterested in doing, since I’ve spent an exhausting year doing that. Reconciliation is reconnecting and moving forward without any emotional barriers between two people, leaving the past in the past. I don’t know that I have arrived at Reconciliation Station just yet; but it’s the final stop on the itinerary of this relationship’s journey. Full and unconditional forgiveness is my ticket to this destination. They say time heals all things, but I also know I must willingly dig a little deeper in my heart’s pocket to find that ticket. I know it’s there; I just need a little more travel time to find it.

And for the first time in a year, I’m actually feeling excited about arriving at this next stop, and completing the final leg of this relationship’s journey.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Two Hearts, Wrong Page

Have you ever caught yourself in a whopper of a lie? Boy howdy, when you get real and look deep to see the truth of what is, it’s like a punch in the gut, or sometimes, to the heart. I experienced such a heart-punch a year ago.

I learned my three year relationship with the man I love was not what I thought it was; essentially a lie, and one that I myself helped create. Punch number one to the heart. But once it ended and the dust settled, I later learned the man I love was an accomplice in creating my false notion of our relationship. Punch to the heart number two, which left me angry, hurt, and picking up the pieces of my broken heart. Neither of us meant to make me feel like a fool. My faith and belief in the man I love overruled my trust and belief in my intuition in myself. His fears fueled cowardice and overruled his kindness and courage to be honest with me when presented with opportunities to do so.

Each and every one of us deserve honesty, especially in affairs of the heart. When I receive dishonesty in return for my heartfelt love, my sensitive heart shatters with disappointment. No one’s love should be taken for granted, or taken advantage of. My heart is precious, and runs deep with love. It deserves to be valued, appreciated by another unconditionally loving heart. When I decide to give my heart to someone, it is after much consideration; cautiously, not impulsively, and only after feeling a sense of trust and confidence in its recipient. I marvel at my heart’s willingness to love again and again, despite the numerous heartbreaks it’s had from those who have rejected it, and those who have gone out of their way to break it and me. Fortunately, my heart is resilient, and when it loves, it is all in. My heart forgives many transgressions, small and large. When my heart feels troubled, it’s calling me to wake up to the reality of my situation, signaling that maybe it’s time to move on. That’s where I get into trouble. I am a creature of loyalty and I, along with my loving heart, will fight tooth and nail to make a connection of the heart work, because I believe so deeply in the other person, his heart and its potential to love.

The problem? A connection requires two hearts be on the same page.

During this relationship, dishonesty won out over courage when inquiries were made about our future. Every time, I believed in him and our future, based on several conversations asking for honesty about where things were between us and his feelings. I asked if we had a future, if “this” was going anywhere, and each time I was reassured there is, and it was. As a result, I continued to trust and believe the man I love and the relationship. With 20/20 hindsight, I see I ignored subtle red flags. Instead of being a smart woman trusting her intuition, I believed in what I thought were “honest” conversations. Then the red flags grew in size, forcing me to see what I knew wasn’t as they appeared:

~Unsolicited conversations about him and his future did not include me. 
~I was never introduced to people he knew/work colleagues in his community, even when we ran into them.
~I was never introduced to his friends, nor was I invited to hang out with them when opportunity arose.
~Interactions with his kids happened because I encouraged it, he didn’t. 
~I was never invited join him and his kids on Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays, or family vacations.
~I was treated as an outsider when we were with his kids, and as if I wasn't there.
~I received reassurances of a future, but was told “I’m happy with the every other weekend”. 
~He never once told me he loved me in three years, despite my expression of love for him.

This time last year, these red flags pounded me over the head, leaving me with a sickening feeling the jig was up. I asked for space and distance; he told me we’d figure out a way to get things back on track. Over the next month, I went into emotional shock. The truth shattered the glass house with in which I held our relationship, exposing it, and worse, my role in facilitating the delusion I had of it. I had to confess to myself that I ignored my intuition and its earlier warning signs. And my heart writhed in absolute misery missing the man I love, while simultaneously reminding me that he did not love me. I felt alone, unwanted, a loser, and a fool. I continued to fight for us and our connection of heart. However, a heart unwilling to love cannot fight the good fight when it fears itself unworthy of a love worth fighting for.

I now recognize the wisdom of lessons learned from the experience.
  • I held on too long in hopes the man I love would love me; if he ain’t saying it after a year, he ain’t feeling it, nor is he gonna say it!
  • I overlooked the contradictions between his words of reassurance and his actions that defied them.
  • I allowed myself to be played the fool by going along with those contradictions, trusting it all still.
  • I chose to ignore my intuitive gut, and brilliantly played the part of romantic fool for this play called Love for my friends and family.

Love requires sacrifices, always, but it does not require sacrificing one’s own Self-love and Self-respect. Ultimately, I walked away from the man I love because it was the healthier choice for me, my heart, and my self-respect. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was the best decision. 

Today, I continue working through the grief of this relationship loss, and toward finding unconditional forgiveness for us both. I believe(d) he was the one. I still love him, miss him and us. Eventually, hopefully, I will come to some peace within myself about it all, and reconcile those feelings against all that came to pass. In the meantime . . . . .

What I know for sure:
I want and deserve to be happy, even if that “happy” doesn’t include him in my life.