As I approach these Days of Awe, I sit in contemplation about my primary relationships.
There is a quote by Samuel Beckett that comes to mind:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
I have failed many times.
I can sit back and say it was not for the sake of not trying. But as I approach these Days of Awe, I recognize that I wasn’t ready.
I had a habit of sending my partner back again and again to address the work that was her own to do (which is something I will always maintain), but what I see more than ever is that I needed time to heal a part of myself that had been harmed and hurt.
My partners wanted and needed me in ways that interrupted this healing and until this healing happened, I couldn’t possibly be ready for love.
15 years ago, on this holiday, my biological family chose to part ways with me. The details are messy.
For the next 10 years, I was lost. And I can finally admit, part of me was broken in a way that tried to heal and move on knowing my loved ones still lived and breathed in spite of me.
To say it was hard, is an understatement beyond understatements.
At year 10, after a lot of hard work, we reconciled. The reconciliation took time and care and a lot of love and it was something I never imagined would happen.
But, my family chose to part ways again. That was 5 years ago.
As I sit now, approaching these days, I feel deep compassion.
Compassion for myself. Because I recognize that this has been a lot to have lived through. And because I recognize it showed up in all of my subsequent relationships. The last one being the one which I experienced during the absence, the reconciliation followed by the departure again.
During the previous relationships, however, I now see that I was defended against being loved and defended against being ALL IN because I needed to save myself.
I needed to save myself from being left.
From being manipulated.
From being with someone who needed too much from me.
From someone who might hurt me in the ways my family had hurt me.
After having lived through the second leaving, however, I no longer feel this way. Something became inviolate in me and it was both soft and strong at once.
However, I recognize more about myself in relationship than ever. On the outside, it felt and looked like I was making only healthy choices:
sending my partner back to herself to do work that was hers to do, asking her not to put me in the position of doing it for her.
But on the inside, what I now recognize is that it was IN the sending her back where I was defended.
Until I had dealt with the ghosts of my family.
Until I fully faced the loss the second time.
As much as I loved hard, my heart was defended against being loved.
THAT was my ghost. And although I don’t have the answers as to what lies ahead, I know my heart feels steady even amidst the moments of pain or uncertainty or loss or anniversaries like this one. Which means to me that the ghost and I have become old friends and she has nothing to hide.
Have I been in a relationship since? No. But that probably has more to do with the last breakup than with my family. Or maybe it has to do with both.
But I learned a lot from stepping back in and I will never regret that experience.
I was no longer lost.
I was wholly accountable.
I listened harder than I ever imagined possible. As a result, words were spoken to me that were so painful, so unbearably painful, and… I was able to take them in and most importantly, I was able to forgive them.
I was able to do that because I had already experienced what life without them was like and the truth (as well as life experience) afforded me more clarity, more wisdom, and more love.
When they ultimately chose a divide at first I didn’t think I would know how to survive it. But then, I recognized that I had only shown up fully. That I was only there to love them. And that had been my only aim. I hadn’t been defended against being loved either. I had been all in. And although it failed. I hadn’t.
As these Days of Awe approach, I feel compassion for myself.
I can hold the truth now that I was defended against being loved. I feel the rumble inside of me when a cherished person is kind to me. The way it washes over me like gentle soul medicine. And I know that all is right with the world.
I also know that I have chosen challenging relationships in an attempt to heal the part of me that had been lost .
I feel compassion for those whom I was defended against. Yes, they sure had their work to do. Yes, we loved each other. But there was no way that our love was going to make it until I was left alone (which was something they each had a difficult time with) and which was so deeply critical and necessary for my healing.
I feel compassion for my family. I don’t know what they struggle with. But I know they are not immune to pain.
I feel compassion for all of us not immune to pain.
Most of this situation is in a place where love lives. It’s no longer dark. It’s not hidden. And it doesn’t shrink me.
As the New Year approaches, and as my heart expands, as this is the 15thanniversary of when this all began, I send love to all those who have loved me. I no longer feel defended against receiving it. I know now, more than ever, that love (most specifically the love that lives in me) never dies. And I send it right back.