Taking the next step.

One thing about hitting rock bottom, in a relationship or otherwise.

Choices become simple again.

I’m not saying that they become easy.  Just simple.

It is like learning how to walk all over again.

Take the next step.

And these are the steps I have taken since I said goodbye to 2012:

  • I realized that the new relationship I had forged with a man towards the end of 2012 was not giving me what I wanted, and so I ended it mid-January, quickly, and with very little emotional trauma.
  • Made a list of attributes and values important to me in a man.
  • I paid attention to people again, strangers, and realized again how much I loved people.
  • Realized that I didn’t in fact hate men.  I loved them.  Loved their quirkiness, their idiosyncrasies, their physicality, their humor, their strength, everything.
  • Dated some wonderful men and just as easily, let them go, since they didn’t have all the attributes I was looking for.  Easy to do when you make it about values.
  • Allowed the man I broke it off with in January back into my life, with expectations for the new relationship clearly defined.
  • Realized that he met all the attributes and values I had delineated earlier in the year.
  • Didn’t get scared.
  • Didn’t build castles in the sky.
  • Just as quickly realized that I had to live each day purposefully.
  • Which meant I had to choose, consciously and deliberately, to enjoy what I was experiencing in the moment, without fast-forwarding ahead in the relationship, anticipating the various scenarios I would normally spin in my head.
  • Which is really hard to do.  But oh, so fulfilling.

And when I live like this?  Taking the next step, consciously and deliberately, without thinking too far ahead?

I’m happy.

Right here and right now.

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Soul.

I am a soul.

A soul that has a really hard time with learning the lessons it needs to learn this time around on earth.  Because this soul is stubborn.  And believes that it is right and all the signs, and portents, and situations that cross its path…they are wrong.  Everything is a battle.

Everything is suspect.

There’s something to be said for being a soul like this.  All the struggles, all the experiences, the influences…when they finally break through one of its many walls, the wall is obliterated.  Crushed.

Once it learns its lesson, the lesson sticks.  Because the soul is still stubborn.  And now it clings on to its hard won truth.

2012 was the year of my despair.  I was faced with the unmistakable fact that my husband had filed for divorce one month shy of our 15 year anniversary, and that the door was slowly closing, leaving me on the other side.  After so many years together with him, it was hard to accept that it was over, and that while he would always be in my life as my kids’ father, he would not be in my life as my partner.

And that was hard to accept.  Because no matter what we had gone through the past few years, and it had been a lot, I couldn’t fathom life without him.  Because I didn’t believe in divorce.  Even though I laid out ultimatums towards the end, in the deepest part of my soul, I hoped that he would call my bluff, tell me he was truly sorry for all that he’d done, and become the husband I wanted him to be.

But the part I was forgetting was that I was equally to blame.  I was his Judge, Jury, and Executioner.  Towards the end, he had no hope of ever being right in my eyes.  I was righteous in my belief that he was wrong.  And who could withstand that storm?  Not him.

We are both deeply flawed people.  Deeply flawed.  It is easy for me to see the things in him that need improvement.  It wasn’t so easy to turn the mirror back to me to see my culpability in the fifteen slow years leading up to this moment.

While I believe that we are responsible for our own decisions and choices, I also believe that the energy and feedback from the person you are with plays a large role in who you decide you are going to be.

And we were poison for each other.  We knew it, both of us, but we kept trying to make it work.  And then finally accepted that it just couldn’t be.

But once that acceptance has been reached, therein lies freedom.  The strings that tied us to each other are still unravelling, but emotionally, mentally, physically?  We are free of each other.

Free to learn who we each are, on our own, individually, again.  A friend gently held a mirror up to me one day, when I was railing about Pete’s seeming inability to be a good father.  He said, “I wonder if he feels unable to be a good father because you have made it so hard for him to measure up.  Because you are doing it all, and there is no room for him.  And so he just doesn’t try.”

I looked in that mirror and hated what I saw.  At first I jumped to deny my friend’s insight.  But later that night, I sat with myself and looked for the first time at who I had become.  A bitter, torn, righteous, avenging and disillusioned woman.  I broke down finally, in tears that had no anger, no self-pity, nothing but compassion.

Compassion for the woman I saw, and for the man who had once loved her.

And finally, I was able to let it all go.  Just like that.  The anger towards Pete, the self-pity, the misery, the martyrdom…everything.  Gone.

And what was left was a distilled purity of thought: I had helped bring two beautiful souls into this world.  And it was my responsibility to help nurture those souls towards their life purpose.  And I could do it, with help from the other person who helped bring those two souls into this world.  But in order to allow him to participate, I had to let him in.

With Compassion.

Finally, I realized why my soul had to go through this.  Through wisdom and compassion (discernment, insight) comes enlightenment.  And while the understanding is fragile, it has come.

My soul is stubborn.

Once it learns a lesson, it holds on.