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It's been six years since my son's father and I dissolved
our romantic relationship and boy how time flies. I never thought I would
spend this many years so fearful of being hurt again that I'd distract myself
with flings to avoid love and being vulnerable.
There was a time when I idealized the state of being married
and envisioned it as a constant state of bliss. Real-life marriage changed all that
and helped me realize how much honesty, self-awareness and communication is
needed for a marriage to succeed. It takes two to succeed, and at various
times in my first marriage I was not willing to compromise, listen or consider
the needs of my partner.
However, now that I'm many years away from that relationship
and hoping to find a lasting partner, I've learned to get real about what it takes to create a lasting relationship.
Self awareness is the ability to see oneself clearly and
understand one's motivation. In my past relationship, I was so hungry for love
that I ignored signals that we were not emotionally secure and were making
decisions from a desperate place. When
we see ourselves clearly, we can find the courage to make healthy decisions.
Maturity is being able to take full responsibility for myself, my feelings and the choices I make.
Being mature has nothing to do with the number of years
we've lived on the planet. For me, maturity is being able to take full
responsibility for myself, my feelings and the choices I make. It also means
being able to communicate my needs and desires, first to myself and then to my
Divorce is often fueled by blame, and I'm realizing that
blame is poison to any thriving relationship. I shouldn't take a
person's behavior as personal to me. Our partners need a safe environment to be
themselves, just as we do. That begins by ending the blame game. Start changing destructive "It's your fault" attitudes to understanding the other's perspectives and where he or she is coming from.
Vulnerability demands that we allow ourselves to be seen
fully—this includes our neediness, joy, passion and flaws. Love is
not love if it excludes our truest expressions. I've been teaching myself how
to be OK with my feelings being stronger than a partner's feelings, without needing him to reassure me.
5. Staying Present
When things get complicated or difficult, I must keep
showing up until a resolution comes. In the past I'd get so scared when things
got messy emotionally that I'd hide out or do my best to cover my truth. I'm
learning that loving again means being peaceful with the challenges and working
through them to the best of my ability.
6. Knowing Your Worth
It's important to know we are precious and priceless in the lives of those we love. We cannot be replaced.
Divorce can be so devastating that in the throes of
separating we forget how valuable, smart and beautiful we are. We can't love
again and be happy if we don't reclaim our sense of worth and value. We bring
goodness and joy to the lives of those we love. We are necessary to them in
ways we can't even imagine, and that they may not have words for. It's
important to know we are precious and priceless in the lives of those we love.
We cannot be replaced.
7. Have a Life
The biggest mistake I made in my first marriage was not
having a life of my own. I had spent so much time desiring relationships that
my raison d'être had become the pursuit of love. When love arrived, I
didn't have passions outside of the relationship. And so when love ended, the
center of my world collapsed. Now my life is centered around my work, my child and my own fulfillment.
I've discovered that, as trite as it sounds, you can't love
another if you don't love yourself. Sadly, in my experience, I find that most
of us do not know what self-love is. I know I didn't. Self-love is the act of
caring for ourselves, listening to our hearts and meeting our deepest desires
to the best of our ability. For me, loving after divorce is loving myself again.