No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. - Marian Robinson
After two failed marriages, I cannot help thinking sometimes -- where is my happily ever after? My happy ending? What happened to it? Where is it? Is it hiding? Did it run away? The fairy tales I read as a little girl told me we all have a happily ever after. So where's mine?
Often in the middle of the night after my son has gone to bed, and I'm alone, I ask these questions. Don't get me wrong. I actually enjoy being alone. I am quite happy to have the silence envelope me at night. I am content to go to bed alone in my king size bed. I am satisfied to go to sleep when I want, eat when I want, leave my toothbrush where I want, my dirty clothes on the floor if I want, keep the house organized how I want. Being alone is not the problem.
My sorrow comes from not being alone but from being lonely.
I am grieving for a marriage that is never to be. Certainly, I am extremely grateful for my son. Having him in my life fills my heart with light and love. But at times when I'm feeling sorry for myself, I begin to feel robbed of the false fairy tale of getting married, having two kids, and living happily ever after.
Photo by epSos.de. (Flickr)
And as I think on it further, it's not the loss of the fairy tale I grieve, but the loss of partnership. I grieve for the man I thought I knew. I grieve for the loss of my best friend. I grieve that there is no one to call when I have a bad day. There is no one to call when I have a terrific day. I grieve for the love and trust that I should have had in a true partner. I grieve knowing that I will not grow old with the man I thought I loved and thought loved me.
I grieve for the man I fell in love with, who never truly existed.
My dream, the future I thought I would have, was stolen. And I realize how lonely my life has become. I wonder -- why me? Do I not deserve happiness? And this leads me further down the black hole to What's wrong with me?
Of course, my feeling of loneliness has not been helped by attempting to date again. First, going out with men after an abusive relationship and divorce is a huge leap of faith. It requires trust in myself to make good choices, and to not be attracted to the same type of man. In addition, it requires trust that not all men are controlling and self-centered. Achieving this level of trust requires courage, hope and faith.
One would think by meeting new men I would feel less lonely. However, the opposite has been true. Dating is similar to going on endless job interviews one after the other, each one ending with, "Well, you are not a fit for this position at this time."
Each time I go out, I try to be positive and hope there will be a connection. Each time I am opening myself up a little making myself vulnerable again to rejection.
This constant up and down of hope and then disappointment when there is no connection is extremely exhausting.
The experience only reinforces the thought of What's wrong with me? When the man is apparently not attracted to me I can't help but to think, What's wrong with me? Is my nose too big? Do I have too many wrinkles? Am I not skinny enough?
Dating triggers all my underlying insecurities, my old baggage from my marriage and abuse. These feelings of inadequacy, insignificance and unworthiness rise up to my heart and brain with full force. What's wrong with me? What is so wrong with me that you felt you could to treat me with such condescension and disdain? What is so awful about me that you felt you could to hit me? What is so horrible about me that you felt it necessary to slam my head onto the tile floor? What is wrong with me?
The answer is absolutely nothing!
There is nothing wrong with me. I am a human. I have both good qualities and bad qualities. And while I may not be a gorgeous, long-legged, supermodel, or a Ph.D researching a cure for cancer, I have a good heart, and I care about people. And this is enough.
I am humble enough to realize that I have much left to learn in this life. There are areas in which I need to grow and learn and heal. And I realize now many of my insecurities stem from my childhood. (Yes, I know. The classic: blame it on the parents). I know my parents love me, but through their own issues of insecurities and life challenges, I was raised feeling unworthy, insignificant, and having to constantly prove myself to be recognized.
This has led me into codependent relationships where I was again trying to prove to others that I am worthy and significant. And always failing, because I was choosing the wrong partner.
So where is my happy ending? My happily ever after? Who knows. Maybe a happily ever after does not require finding a true love and growing old together although it would be nice.
Maybe a happily ever after only requires you to love yourself.
For me an absolute in an happy ending is seeing my son grow into a happy, successful young man whose success is defined by him not our society. And maybe, just maybe, along the way I can learn to love and trust myself again.
As Melody Beattie says in The Language of Letting Go, "You are lovable. Yes, you. Just because people haven't been there for you, just because certain people haven't been able to show love for you in ways that worked, just because relationships have failed or gone sour does not mean that you're unlovable. You've had lessons to learn. Sometimes, those lessons have hurt. Let go of the pain. Open your heart to love. You are lovable. You are loved."
Disregard the notion that society would have us believe that happily ever after requires you to be married to your soul mate, grow old together, and live happily ever after. Some are lucky to achieve this. Many of these people likely have their own challenges with health, finances, or a death of a loved one. We never know. Just because we have not and may never find our true partner does not mean we are robbed of own happily ever after.
A happily ever after only requires you to live successfully as you define success and ultimately for you to love yourself. So, be open to the universe. Be open to receiving the love the universe has to offer. And be open to loving and trusting yourself again, In that opening, you will find your happily ever after.