Approximately 18 years ago we crossed paths. Feeling unworthy I ignored the obvious. I was a young, single mother with 2 little girls, just beginning my legal career. He was a single, young professional who had the world at his fingertips. Prior heartbreak and disappointment would not allow me to consider the possibility that we could have something special. When it came to matters of the heart, I chose to follow the path of safety. So I walked away and turned to what was safe.
Safety for me meant that I placed myself in relationships that did not push me emotionally. Safety for me meant that I did not have to open myself to the idea that I deserved to be loved just as fiercely as I loved. Safety for me meant I was able to keep my guard up.
Growing up in a household that was void of love between my parents left me scared and unsure of myself. I did not know what happiness between two people looked like, or, felt like. Going through life I looked for role models. I wanted a guide for how true love was supposed to look and feel. Unfortunately, it seemed that the couples I was exposed to were content rather than connected.
So quick to end relationships in my younger days, I felt myself falling prey to societal standards. Everywhere I turned the message was clear. The rise in divorce rates was attributed to individuals not willing to push through and work hard for their marriage. So, I hunkered down, rolled up my sleeves, and worked. I ignored all of the warning signs and waited. I ignored the other women, I ignored the physical aggression, I ignored the venom that spewed from his mouth, I ignored the venom that spewed from my mouth as the anger and resentment grew within me. I ignored the emptiness that existed in both of us as we continued to fight a losing battle. I fell into a life of contentment hoping that one day we would feel connected.
Being in my forties, and the emotional upheaval caused by my decision to walk away from my marriage, has forced me to take a closer look and ask, “How has safety been working for me?” And as I take a closer look, the honest answer is, I have known for some time that I am not compatible with my “safe” choices. As much as I want to point to the volatile nature of my relationship and say that is the reason I left, the truth of the matter is, I could no longer bear to stare at the wall, feeling this deep level of emptiness, wondering, “is this really what love is supposed to feel like?” “Why do I have this deep yearning for something else?”
Almost 18 years later I have come full circle. Certainly, I wonder “why did it take almost 18 years for the light bulb to go off?” But, the truth of the matter is, while I daydream about all of the ways our lives could have been different, I know that the separate paths that we traveled, over the past 18 years, were necessary. I know that the separate paths that we traveled, over the past 18 years, have connected us even more. But for the bumps and bruises experienced on the path of “safety”, I would not be willing to consider the possibility that love should feel good, not safe! Love should make me laugh like there is no tomorrow. Love should make me take a closer look at myself with my defenses down. Love should “enhance” the person that I am. I guess emotional upheaval’s can sometimes be a good thing. I now know that I am not willing to settle for a life of contentment. Realizing that has opened me up to someone that I am connected to.