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.

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