Making myself whole again

I know I can be rather cynical and snarky sometimes, even though I know that neither looks good on anyone. It’s been something that I’ve been trying hard to change for the past few months – one of those resolutions I made when I moved out of my old apartment, along with moving forward instead of being rooted facing the past and leaving the past behind me where it belongs.

It seems to be the year of friends-in-couples moving in, becoming engaged, getting married, and having babies (many of whom I grew up with, including childhood friends and one of my own siblings). This weekend alone there were two weddings in my social circle, in addition to one happening last week and three more set for two weekends from now. There have been a fair number of first wedding anniversaries, too. My social network feeds are full of newborns in pink or blue hospital tuques and booties or of babies still in the “X months old” stage doing all their adorable drooly “firsts,” while the friends who aren’t quite there yet are posting photos of the new keys leading to cohabitational dwellings or of joined hands, one of which is now adorned by a dazzling ring.

And here I am – single, when a year ago I had stars in my eyes and hopes in my heart for all of these things with the person I thought was going to be The One. I would by lying if I told you I no longer swallow the bitter pill of breaking up whenever something reminds me that I’m single in the midst of all these happy couples in various stages of their relationships. I would be lying if I told you I no longer stop dead in my tracks in the middle of any given day because it hits me like a ton of bricks – that the dead-certain journey and destination I thought I had in my last relationships was, alas, just another one of those runaway trains.

It’s not like I can’t get out of bed in the morning and make it through the day, or that I have to keep faking smiles and fighting back tears. Trust me, I’m okay with things. Really.

But any love that you lose that you felt with all your heart, believed in with all the faith in your soul, and hoped for in any prayer is going to leave deeper cuts than you’d like to admit, right?

However, admitting to this is part of the healing, and after a long winter, fleeting spring, and sweltering summer, here I am in autumn, single and finally admitting to the fact that maybe I’m not quite as healed up yet as I’d like to have everyone believe.  I’m working on it, though.  Really.

I have never doubted that I made the right decision and, when sitting in Mass today listening to Father’s homily, I was reminded of that fact. You see, I’ve spent the last few weeks in a pretty rough patch that stretched across all aspects of my life and I was, at one point a few days ago, so close to tipping over the edge of regret and self-pity. But today’s Gospel included that bit about cutting off or tearing out the appendages that cause you to stumble – and as much as I had loved and cared about the other half of my last relationship, by the time it ended there was too much stumbling on both sides of the equation for it to have been healthy, on any level, for either of us.

But none of it was wasted time for me, because I was able to grow and I was able to learn over its duration, and coming out of it with that growth and knowledge gave me the foundation I needed to rebuild myself.

“There are many loves in this world,” as the saying goes, “but never the same love twice.” Even if you end up with somebody from a past relationship, it’s still a new kind of love because you’ve both grown and changed in that time apart.  I know I will never have that love – or any past love, for that matter – again, and I’ve come to accept that. However, when love does find me again, I know that it will be the right one if I go into it as a whole person and hold on to it for good reasons – reasons that don’t involve the fear of being alone, the desire to be adequate enough for somebody to take notice, or any one of the other things that played into why any of my past relationships happened.

In the meantime, though, I’m choosing to see singlehood as a blessing…because really, it is. It suits me at this point in my life, and for once I am in the right frame of mind to be doing things for myself on my own terms. It’s not selfish of me to do things by myself or spend money on myself if that’s going to improve who I am and make me a better, stronger, and more whole individual. It’s not cynical of me to hide certain posts from my news feeds that make me feel inadequate, unworthy, or unsuccessful simply because I am not in the same position as many of my friends and acquaintances, for that’s removing unintentional negativity from my immediate vicinity.

And it’s not spiteful of me to say I would never go back to any of my past relationships to recapture what they were, because if a relationship doesn’t make two people grow closer together towards a common goal, it’s not the right relationship. I’m single right now because I have not yet found the right relationship, and part of the reason is because I’m still a little too rough around the edges to be the best partner I can be for the kind of man I know I want – and I think that I’ll know who he is when he forgives me for taking so long to make my way to him.

But I’m on the right track now, I think, with all the things I’m doing to make the most out of my current state of singledom, and I’m sure that for the right guy that counts for something.

Seeing through the rain

Walking home in the rain from the cinema last night, I was waiting to cross the boulevard and thinking about how much life has changed in the last year.

I realised I’ve found more of my adult self in this last year than I have in all of the years combined since my twenty-first birthday, and a lot of that is down to having learned how to love and live for another person.  I’m not talking about living for somebody else in the sense of depending on them for validation and worth and purpose, but rather in the sense of being able to unite your own dreams and plans and goals with those of another person…simply because you share a love with them that is genuine and runs deep.  You open yourself up to a whole world of good and bad when you love somebody that way, but if it’s all meant to work out with them all of the good makes up tenfold for everything bad you have to experience.    You love them enough to want them to be happy, and trust that they see the same thing when they look at you.

Seeing him smile and hearing him laugh made me feel happy because it meant he was happy.  But what made me even happier was waking up every day of our relationship and knowing that I was one day further along in human plans that finally seemed to line up with God’s plans…that I was making a choice of my own discernment and will to fulfill a call to a relationship heading towards marriage and family.

I told him more than once that I love God more than him – for no other reason other than because it’s the truth.  What made me happiest about the relationship we shared was the fact that it fit into what I knew God wants for me, which meant my personal happiness was finally firmly rooted in someone eternally constant and loving.  The human heart is fickle, as we see over and over again whenever we love and lose, but God is love.

The catalyst to the breakup was a decision made in his part that caused confidence and trust to fall out on mine, thus causing the worst kind of pain initially:  a selfish one that’s rooted in pride and a false sense of betrayal.  I say it’s the worst kind of pain because its root makes it hurt even more than it should, because it makes us blind to anything else but how it makes us feel.  This kind of pain demands angrily of the human love, “How could you do this to me, after all I have endured for you?”  and, equally angry, of God, “I was doing as You commanded then, so why must I suffer now?”

While we can never truly know why people do what they end up doing, deep down inside my heart I know that what he chose to do was not fuelled by anger or spite or a desire to cause pain.  What made me feel his intentions as painful actions was the fact that loving him made me want to love God less so that I wouldn’t lose my relationship.  I was deeply unhappy and struggled in trying to reconcile the two – in trying to have both even though the more I tried, the more unsettled I felt.  But when I saw how this same conflict was beginning to manifest itself in our relationship, I felt a different pain.  It was the kind that comes not out of feeling betrayed, but rather out of knowing that what you’re asking of the person you love can’t be given to you without it being detrimental to their own pursuit of fulfilment, peace, and happiness.

To those two infuriated demands I mentioned above, I never really got an answer to the human question – though I did get an answer to the divine one through a long and difficult discernment.  I asked God why, and He replied, “Because I have commanded you to love others as I have loved you.  Because I am Love, and made you in that image.”

I am still fighting through both kinds of pain.  The first pain slows down the healing, which strangely enough motivates me to take the second kind of pain and offer it to God in the hope and trust that He can tend to all of my wounds.  I have that hope and trust in Him because through all the worst storms of my voyage so far, He offered me His hand to help steer my ship towards safe harbors.  Through every difficult and painful experience, I have come to see God’s hand in my life, and until last night I never knew how to explain that revelation in human terms.

But today I finally can, because the analogy came to me last night as I stood in the rain at the intersection of that windy boulevard.  In the same way that I can see the shape of the wind as it blows through the raindrops right before they hit the pavement, I can see the shape of God’s hand in how my life experiences sculpt me into the daughter He envisioned long before I began to take on human form.  I was made in His image, not He in mine, and if choosing to learn how to love sacrificially — as He did, on the wood of the Cross — is how I may better reflect that image, then may He heal me so that one day I may again try loving another person as He has loved me.