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I stopped trying to find “happily ever after”. I learned to understand that it belongs in those one to two hour fairytales that I watch on screen. I realized, I didn’t see the person in front of me when I was focused on the unpredictable forever. I would create a story of how a partner should be. He should react this way, when I do this. He should buy me flowers. He should choose me over fill in the blank. Why can’t he be more like that? Just writing this ties my stomach in knots. I should-ed these poor men to death.  I have no idea how they could say I was needy…choke, choke, choke. My expectations were completely out of whack with reality.

I didn’t know any of them. I knew who I wanted them to be, to fit into what my fantasy of “happily ever after”. I didn’t want any of them for who they actually were. You wouldn’t blame me if you knew some of them, but I wanted to be in that fairytale where the woman saves the man (hold on a minute, laugh break). I had no idea how ugly this tale turns out in reality. Even though, I have plenty of examples of healthy relationships around me, it took me years to break free from the toxic formula of my mom and dad’s relationship. They both went on to have healthy, beautiful, and different kinds of relationships.

My dad and my “other mother”, were together for 21 years until his death. I remember being in my teens or early 20’s when they explained to me that they were happy now and they enjoyed each other’s company, but if it ever came to place where they didn’t, they would set the other one free. They didn’t want a piece of paper telling them they were tied together, their souls told them that. They exchanged rings and committed to each other, but not legally. I have never been against marriage; I know many wonderful, healthy married couples. This touched me, because it fit them perfectly. What I realized, they didn’t focus on the fairytale; they focused on the moment in front of them.

My mom stayed single for a very long time. She spent a lot of time working on herself to ensure she wouldn’t repeat the old and unhealthy patterns of her previous relationships. When she met my stepdad, she was perfectly happy and content living the way she was. She wasn’t missing anything. They were two whole people. I am fortunate to see them on a daily basis and watch how they communicate with love after 18 years. Do they have their disagreements? Of course, but they don’t use the past as a weapon. They stay present, and work their way forward together.  They maintain their own individual identities. They are just as strong together as they are when they are apart.

Seeing the three different relationships of my mom and dad, dad and “other mother”, and mom and stepdad helped me to see relationships operate in different ways. It helped me to not judge other people’s relationships and compare them to mine. Each relationship comes with its own lessons meant for the couple in the relationship. Two people come together for different reasons. I realized that two people could make a toxic couple, but can go off to have healthy relationships. Sometimes, it is the toxic relationships that help us appreciate the healthy ones.  I know I had to go through all my relationships to learn who I was and what was right for me. It took quite a few, but I am grateful for every one of them. Each one allowed me to dig a little deeper and learn a lot more about the person I was, and the person I wanted to be.

For a long time, I hid from my own challenges by finding partners I viewed as sicker than I was. We would both be on a path of bettering ourselves, but I would feel like I was ahead of them (BIG LAUGH). I had no idea, I was as sick as they were. I would stay in a relationship until, I was truly in a place that didn’t match their energy. When I gave up “happily ever after” and started focusing on what was in front of me, I naturally had a healthy relationship come into my life. I have slipped into brief periods of letting other people’s fantasies of our relationship get into my head, including my children’s. When I do that, it doesn’t feel right, and I stop focusing on what is right for us. I’m happy, I’m aware enough to catch myself in other people’s stories of who they think we should be. I know it is not ill intentioned, I know they speak from a place of love and what feels right for them. It doesn’t mean I have to attach to it. If I get angry, insecure, sad, excited, I’m attaching to it, and it means I need to look at what truly feels right for me. Some elements may stick and others may not.

The relationship I have now, is right here and right now. That is what works for us. We are happy and we enjoy each other’s company. In the almost two years we’ve been together, we haven’t called each other a name out of anger, and we communicate when things aren’t sitting right in our heads. We give each other space to be individuals and support each other’s dreams. We definitely don’t agree with everything, and we are very different in the way we do things. The difference, we respect each other’s differences and laugh about them a lot. To me, it is so much better than a “happily ever after” illusion. I see him, and I love him. He is not expected to be anyone else in my head. Do I know if this love story will last forever? No, and that’s ok. I know it is here now. I know, I’m happy now. I know, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Today, I let flowers bloom. I know they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, without any expectation to be something different than what they are. Appreciate the differences in others, learn from them, and figure out what is right for you. When two flowers are meant to bloom alongside each other, they will. Notice,  in nature each has their own space to grow separately, each needs a healthy root system, if not, they smother each other. Then, neither flower/plant/tree has space to grow, and they both struggle to survive.

The energy we give our own roots is important to how we will share space with others.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

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