To say that this has been a summer of change for me is way beyond an understatement! But of course, these changes began long before the summer started. You see, I have primarily moved alone through the world in recent years…. And I’m pretty darn good at it, if I do say so myself. I am, what some friends have kindly called “fiercely independent,” so life seems to go easier, and dare I say better that way. I’ve tried dating, relationships, and even marriage once… and let’s just say there are enough amusing stories in there to keep everyone laughing (and crying) for quite a while!
Well, late last year the opportunity presented itself and I decided to take a chance and embark on a new relationship attempt. And wow! Without going into too much detail (names should be changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty!) let’s just suffice it to say that like all relationships this one provided opportunities for growth… maximum opportunities!
First off, the situation is fairly unique. Although I live in the suburbs, I have never been inclined towards the domesticated version of 2.3 offspring and a minivan. In other words, this wouldn’t be a zero – 60 situation with me suddenly having to learn how to live with someone 24/7 after 11 years of being “mistress of my own domain!” So far, so good, right? Hardly. Turns out we are very, very much alike in some ways, and very, very different in others. (All you longtime relationship people quit snickering!!) I was mostly prepared for this… mostly.
I, of course, spent some time pointing fingers and blaming him, “if he would just act right [read, the way I think he should be] everything would be just fine!” Gradually, I began to see where I was doing some of the exact same kind of stuff that made me upset with him. Who’d a thunk it!?! Then I had to deal with myself, of course… and who wants to spend the summer (or anytime) doing that?! But I knew the choice was either that, or get to do it the next time I decided to try a relationship… because this one certainly wouldn’t survive. (I feel it very important to point out at this juncture, that it wasn’t all one sided… if only to preserve a little piece of my ego. The same thing was happening on his side of the equation too.) There has been a great deal of mirroring going on… admittedly, sometimes funhouse style, but valuable mirroring nonetheless.
So, flash forward to almost the end of the summer… I discovered some incredibly difficult information about him. You know, the kind of stuff that makes you doubt everything you think you know. (And no, for the record, he was not putting kittens into blenders or anything of that nature.) But it was like a brick upside the head to me. I was so stunned, and in shock, that I actually posted on Facebook the effect it was having on me. This is a big deal because I am not one to post every detail of my life for the world to see. In fact, rarely do I share what’s going on with me, much less the details with anyone other than a select few people that have been my confidants for decades. But many of those relationships have gone by the wayside in recent years, or morphed into a “less than safe/supportive feeling” situations… so I was desperate… and again, in shock.
Here’s what happened… people came out of the woodwork! I received more texts, calls, emails, comments, IM’s, and every other form of communication available these days, in a 24-hour period than I had probably received in previous three months combined. Dear friends that I hadn’t spoken to in years called from the other side of the planet. I could barely finish one call when the phone would ring again. Now to be clear, I did not spend that time regurgitating “my story” over and over again for sympathy and/or attention. Some offered support for whatever I may be going through, without wanting or needing to know the details. Others offered distraction, an ear, or a shoulder… whatever it was I needed, they let me know all I had to do was ask. Some offered refuge if an escape or change of scenery was necessary. And a very select few listened to everything… without judgement, without suggestions, with perspective only if it was requested… simply put, they met me in that space, in my pain, in my fear, in my confusion, with nothing but love… they opened up their hearts and they just loved me.
I was stunned. I cannot think of another time in my life where I had ever been the recipient of so much care, concern, and love. And it was exactly what I needed. In fact, it was what I needed more than anything else in the world that day. It healed me. Did it make the catalyst disappear? No. Did it remove all of the doubt? The fear? The pain? No, it did not. Did I suddenly understand and learn the lesson that was before me? Nope. But it did do two miraculous things for me. It turned down the volume on all of that angst and noise inside my head. More importantly, they let me know that I was not alone in my suffering, in my growth… not just in that moment, not just that day, but ever. I was reminded, ever so gently, but clearly… that not one human being is immune to the growing pains that life presents us.
I’m still not completely done with that lesson just yet. (More on that to come.) But I feel more movement and more hope than I had. Sometimes that is all we need to live to fight another day. And I definitely, had more fights to come that week. Hurricane Harvey was in the Gulf of Mexico and heading my way…