Through the last 4 years I have been journaling like crazy! Trying to dig deep looking to make sense of life and what I need and want going forward. I think this commonly happens for people who go through a major loss or a major change in life. It is something that we don't voluntarily sign up for when all is well but, when all that is well is stripped away and it's just you sitting in the middle of a field by yourself, it feels like you were just dropped out of the sky onto a different planet. Then it's up to you to do your work, take the journey and find a new path. The other option is to have a piece of your soul crumble and die a little. ...And no one wants that.
You have a trunk of tools to use on the journey that sometimes leaves you digging so deep it just looks like crap being tossed out all over the place with only your dirty feet sticking out the top. You meet characters along the way who are teachers. They come at different times and all play a unique part in the story. Some won't leave no matter how much you think you want them to go. They leave you yelling at God because you've already learned this lesson 100 times. Or at least you thought you did. You continue to call out to the great goblin king even when you know you should stop. Why not create your own drama if it's not already happening? (Labyrinth reference: I know you're all thinking of David Bowie in tight pants right now.) Some of the characters are great gifts that don't at all fit the suit you thought they would arrive in.
Life is like a story book, the journey away is as much fun and just as important as finding your way back to the Shire. I look at the journey away as a metaphor of moving away from the life I used to know when I was married and going back to a single 21-year-old's life. Coming home is being able to find some peace in being more settled again into a life that holds pieces of what I really enjoyed about my life when I was married. Not necessarily being in a relationship, but enjoying my home life. Without all the joy and pain that has come out of this chapter, I would not be able to come around to the place I am today.
My therapist once said to me, "tell me what you've learned about yourself through your relationships with the men you've met." This is an interesting way to look at things and a good way to turn things around on me when I often felt like, why isn't this the person for me? why can't this work? (shoving square pegs into round holes) I'm tired of being single, on and on...failed relationships, non-relationships, play-relationship madness...the cycle doesn't end...blah, blah, blah...ruminating craziness in my head about why the hell my marriage had to end and shoot me back into the single world of "dating" hell. Bless her heart (my therapist that is). That's why I see her for mental tune ups when my thought process heads on a downward spiral.
I have learned about long-term relationships and what it is to truly love someone through difficult times, what it is like to love so much that you know what you want and what they need are not the same and that in order for everyone to be well, the relationship needs to end. I know now, that I have the capacity to be a very committed partner and also what it is like to create a home with someone. I know from my marriage that I loved being in a relationship where my partner was my best friend and that a real love goes deep is one of the most beautifully satisfying things we can experience as humans.
I came out of being married with some broken butterfly wings and didn't feel like my voice was very strong. Like a butterfly with tarred wings...
I had to learn about my own sexuality again. This was important, I mean, come on you don't come out of being married to a trans person and not totally have to re-evaluate sexuality and gender for yourself as well. Everyone else gets confused just contemplating what it is to be trans, what that means and also how gender and sexuality don't fit into a neat little box like we were taught as kids. I lived the transition with another person and played the role of a lesbian for 4 years. We found a loophole to same sex marriage and were probably one of the first same sex couples to get divorced. Take that for rules!
I learned a lot about making mistakes and voicing things that need to be said out loud to another person which meant a good deal of tequila, tears and disagreements happened. I will also say that learning some grace in making my voice heard was part of what I learned. The early trials in speaking up probably came off as harsh and lacked any sort of grace, so thank goodness for the tequila. Haha! I learned that I could make a decision then change my mind even if it made no sense at all. A big one was learning boundaries and how I want to be treated. I had to learn that boundary was even a word that pertained to relationships then read an entire manual on how that worked. It was like learning a new language. That I have a voice in things and don't have to sit around and put up with a ton of b.s. This all took me a long time to figure out.
On to learning about respect, my self-worth and that some are easier than others (relationships that is...). I started to come back to a place of knowing that I needed deep emotional connection with another person and also the desire for a partner who shares similar values.
I learned that I can say no and not have to justify my decision. Just "no" is good enough and that I will be respected and heard when I say it. This was one of the kindest gifts I was given. The realization that I get to say no. NO!!!! There I said it. And now I practice happily and often. As I was unpacking years of crap from that trunk on my journey, I kept having to learn that I can say no, be respected and still have a friendship with a man. (We should teach this to young girls in sex ed class...seriously.)
Funny enough, I also learned from men I met that I should be more picky. Some of them even warned me about themselves, they were like "what...me? No, not me I'm not available. I'm a disaster. You really deserve someone great because you're really great." Can that get more clear? That's God just yelling at you in as plain a way as possible. So I learned that I try to make square pegs fit into round holes. I do this well. I needed to learn to quit doing that! Walking away is a good option especially when you really have no investment.
I need a partner who is very emotionally in-tune and connected. I am one of the most emotional people I know and I need another human who is going to be emotional and connected in their body, heart and mind to meet me in this place that only a handful of us humans go. We leave everyone else running the hell away at 1000 miles per hour. Emotions are scary, especially with other people. We're a rare bunch that requires more. More of what? ...Just more.
Last summer I woke up one day and laughed to myself with a great sense of clarity and thought, oh...it is love that I long for. Nothing less. My ability to love is great and I have a lot of love to give. I want to put that energy into someone who can give and receive love in the same way that I want and need.
I am learning that when things are right, they happen. I don't have to make anything happen. No shaving off corners of square pegs to fit spaces they don't want to go. I can just be me. I can be the strong girl on the outside, super sensitive on the inside, say no without a long explanation and I can demand love, friendship and intimacy all from the same person because I believe that it does exist.
I think the biggest thing I have learned is how to love myself. That I will never abandon or betray myself. No matter what happens, I am always here safe and secure for me.