All my life I have been obsessed with love. Next to all things spiritual and mystical, love has always been at the top of my list. And like most little girls, I dreamed of meeting my knight in shining armor and marrying a rich and handsome man and pa pow, living happily ever after.
Problem was, I had absolutely zero ideas of what a healthy happy relationship looked like. At the age of three, my mother had to literally “run away” from my father, while holding me, my father chased her in an attempt to beat her or worse. My oldest half-brother tackled him to the ground before he could get to us. This was the last of many abusive instances I witnessed from my father. After that, I saw my father a mere few brief times in my life and he died when I was 14. Rightfully so, this left my mother deeply and forever wounded. She lost herself to addiction and continually traded love and sex for security, thinking “this man will be the one to save,” and this process went on and on. Each and every one of those relationships was so toxic and still often physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive. She was so deeply wounded, struggled with chronic depression, and often had difficulty caring for my needs. She suffered so terribly that often our roles reversed and I became her caretaker. Unconsciously I tried to keep my needs and wants small and tried my best to make her happy.
As I began my own dating process in my teenage years, I had no idea what to even look for. I was simply looking for my knight, that man that I could fall and surrender to and become one with, and definitely not any of the kind of men my mother dated. As a Pisces, I was a hopeless romantic. My first boyfriend in high school and subsequently the father of my child was my first real relationship. As with most relationships at 16, I grew tired of him literally in the first few weeks and was ready to find another boyfriend. Problem was, he was my first sexual partner and I had no idea or understood the power of sexuality and attachment. He clung to me so needily, and when he pleaded with me, with tears running down his face not to leave him, I acquiesced, putting his want above my own desire. Looking back I had no idea that I was acting out in codependency. I couldn't imagine hurting him after I had sex with him and somehow I believed I now belonged to him. To make a long story short, I spent 5 years and had a child with a severely insecure and controlling young man I never loved for the fear of telling him “no.” I spent years regretting and hating myself for abandoning myself, for being so controlled, and for having no self-respect. He was not my prince.
In the relationships that followed I had a myriad of partners, I was choosing at random and just as quickly saying yes to whatever came along. Although I was lucky to be devoid of physically harmful abusive relationships like my mother, I often found myself in uninspiring, boring, or dominating relationships with men that wouldn’t meet me and grow with me as I longed for and were far from the prince I initially projected them to be. But I found myself with a strong desire to please and be loved, and I would yet again lose myself only to reclaim myself and get the hell out. I would meet men I deeply desired that perhaps could have met me, but my own self-worth and self-esteem were so little, I was certain I wasn’t worthy of the knight I desired, and I would steer myself away from these men so that I wouldn’t possibly have to feel their rejection. Rather I would end up with men for the longer term that I eventually coined to be “low-hanging fruit.” They were easy to reach, they likely wouldn’t reject me but they wouldn't even come close to being able to meet me in the ways I desired. And although I threw myself into the romantic ideal I had created with these men, and they would fall short, I would eventually devise a way out.
As the journey continued, I would continue to have relationships with men that were shut down, and like me, avoided conflict, and like my mother, they often suffered from some kind of addiction. They were usually kind, but devoid of meeting me in my depths. They didn’t want to share my deep desire of growth, co-creativity and connection and I often found myself emotionally, spiritually, and sexually empty of the deep love I craved.
At one point, I went on to marry a lovely man although I had once had a foreshadowing that our relationship would last only 10 years. I went on to marry him anyway and I abandoned authentic parts of me to show up as the pleasing and doting wife. For the first time in my life I truly felt loved and protected in a way I hadn’t seemed to before and I was willing to sacrifice parts of me to get that need met. I let my little girl self be loved by this deeply protective and caring man. It was the first time in my life that I actually connected to the fact that I had acquired a deep deep daddy wound as you might have gathered from the first part of my story. I fell in love and let this man show up in all the ways I thought a daddy would, he cared deeply for me, he fiercely protected me and adored me.
Problem was because I was looking at him through my child's wounded eyes, I never actually saw and accepted the person he truly was. My insecure inner child was highly triggered by his relationship to alcohol and drugs and I would act out in rage when he wouldn’t return home after a binge all nighter. I would criticize him for not being there for me and not showing up the way I believed he was supposed to. I would feel unsafe and unprotected, this too was not the Prince I signed up for and I demanded that he would change if he truly loved me. And when he met with either resistance or despair, I would rebel and assert my independence. I began to take up “platonic” but flirtatious behaviors with other men who appeared to want my attention and gave me their adoration. I even began to threaten my husband that if he didn’t show up for me as I demanded, I was certain another man would.
This all led to a complete disaster, and the man I thought would never leave me and would adore me forever simply left. I was crushed
This led me into a deep Dark Night of the Soul and the deepest grief I had ever known. Not only was I grieving this man and the loss of his care and protection but I was grieving this part of me that hadn’t ever known the care and protection of a mother and father who were there to care and show up for me. I blamed him, I blamed my life, and worse I blamed myself. I was ashamed, I felt banished and the grief continued as the family I had created fell apart.
For the next few years, I went to the darkest place I had ever been. Lost and afraid. But I vowed to do the “inner work” to discover what I didn’t know. Something in me knew I wasn't a victim. I had an inner knowing that this wasn't true, but my emotional body was stuck in the blame, the shame, the guilt, and simply the pain of the loss. For the next three years, I cried more than I had ever cried in my life.
One of the things I got so tired of hearing when I was going through my divorce was the assurance from my well-meaning friends, “he just wasn’t the one for you.” While on some level, I could concur, my gut knew there was a bigger truth to be revealed. It wasn’t even about him. But rather, I had an immense opportunity to really learn more about myself, and dive deep into my unconscious pain and wounding. I had an opportunity to better understand why I had attracted him as a partner, why I eventually wanted to push him away, and what my unconscious motives were driving me, and what truly needed healing.
Because this pain was so significant, I swore I would learn as much as I could so that I would truly call it a healthy relationship one day. That kind of trauma was excruciating and I really didn't want to have to experience it again if I didn't have to. Over the next three years, I immersed myself in whatever I felt called to support the process of healing. I got an amazing therapist, I traveled to ancient sites across the world. I poured my tears into the Pacific Ocean, cried my way through Petra, wept my way through the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, and asked for forgiveness at Mother Mary’s chapel in Turkey. I set off to study Tantra in India and learn the many faces and flavors of the feminine and how to worship her. I did Panchakarma in Sri Lanka and tended to the cleansing of body, mind, and spirit. I studied more Tantra and Sacred Sexuality in Thailand, learning from the lineages of Osho, Tibetan Buddhism, and more. I read books upon books about relationships, trauma, and attachment. I hired an amazing coach and began to discover the wisdom from all of this.
And then that’s when it happened…after three years of travel, wild experiences and lots of studying, and a deep commitment to healing my brokenness I began to blossom. The grief began to lighten, the nightmares lessened, and sure enough, I began to feel a sense of love again. This love was intoxicating, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I woke with it in the morning, it hung around all day and it even came to bed with me at night. I began smiling at the peacefulness I felt alone. The desperate longing for my ex and any partner for that matter softened. The longing became sweet, more like that feeling you get at Christmas when you can’t wait to open your present and at the same time you savor the wait. I began to love this feeling so much that I stopped thinking of partnership. I became in a love relationship with myself and it was ECSTATIC. I began to feel such an amazing feeling of ecstasy that I began to feel tremendous gratitude for my ex and our parting. I thought, if the gift of this amazing journey was for me to fall in love with myself (by the way, something I had never really felt before) then it was all worth it. In truth, it was the only journey from the head to my heart where I discovered the golden chalice of my own true love.
In the end, I didn't meet another Prince, but this Queen met her King. And with my eyes wide open, in full awareness. I showed authentically straight out of the gates, I let him know me right away in both my awesomeness and my wounding. It is a relationship based on openness and willingness. Devoted and committed to each other's growth and evolution. And I believe it is just the beginning.
Ultimately I don’t know what will happen in life. But I do know that we are co-creators to our destiny and not victims of it. We can’t really know what pains and losses we will experience, but we do have the ability to choose the kinds of experiences and people that we decide to grow with or not. With some conscious awareness, we can choose to have relationships more out of kindness and gentleness, with grace, with ease. I believe we can choose the world we want to live in and I believe it begins with the relationship with ourselves and in partnership.
Moreover, I am so committed to this work because I truly know what is possible, but only if we are guided to another way of being and shown another way. And no, it is not easy and isn't for the faint of heart. You must be willing to truly see yourself as you are and where you have come from. You must learn to confront those dark and painful areas, and in time learn to love and accept those parts of yourself. When we begin to do the work within ourselves and to give ourselves a new narrative of what is possible in and out of a relationship then that narrative is indeed possible, I’ve personally experienced it and have worked with so many other couples experiencing this same fulfillment and nourishment. Being in a healthy relationship will not solve all your problems, you will still be you, with all your quirks and core wounds, but I promise you that you will learn to show up differently, with more grace, more love, and more compassion for yourself and if you are in a relationship with another for each other. And no this is not a facade living behind the screens of Instagram, with a happy, “look I found the one! Look at me, I’m so happy.” Rather it is, I know what it takes to dive deep and face all that pain and brokenness and come back up for air, and bring all that wisdom to my relationship. It means I show up in truth, even when it’s scary, it means I pay attention to who is driving my ship, the wounded little girl or the empowered woman, it means I am conscious of what I say to my partner, it means I sit in humility and ask for forgiveness if I was wrong. It means I'm constantly committed to my shadow work and dealing with grief at every level of expansion. It means I recognize that this journey is lifelong, there is no endpoint, but if you are committed you don't wait for the gold at the end of the rainbow but rather create and enjoy the gold along the way.
And yes, my love, it also reveals that true love and happiness do exist.