Friday, July 15, 2011

Alone Isn't Lonely

I have the unique experience of seeing both sides of a fence.  When I was in my late twenties, I longed for a mate.  I tired of dating and the start-and-stop interruptions in my life.  I opined for a steady constant.  Someone who would be there through thick and thin and love me like no one else, no matter what.  I wanted someone to make me feel good about myself.  I would hear of engagements and sigh in my season of life.  Would it ever happen for me?  I wanted to see what it would be like when "the two shall become one".

It did.  I met a smiley, talkative and handsome man.  He paid more attention to me than anyone I could remember.  He told me on our first date that I was beautiful and then he added, "I bet you hear that all the time.", I laughed and blushed.  Six months later, we were engaged.  I was so happy. I wanted everyone to have what I had.  I would pray for my friends by name, asking God to give them the same wonderful gift He gave me.  We both looked forward to our wedding and all the trappings that a match made in heaven should have.  Could life actually be any better than this?

I suppose it could, but the fairy tale failed for yet another couple.  We didn't complete each other even though we had each other at 'Hello', literally.  The fantasy of him filling in all the holes of my insecurities was a delusion of grandeur.  He didn't cure them, he exposed them unwittingly.  Every time he failed to meet my unspoken expectations I raled at his insensitivity.  He was selfish.  Me?  Well, he just didn't appreciate me enough. 

I was sold a bill of goods like so many women before me.  Hollywood loves to paint an image of our other half being able to anticipate and meet every need almost with telepathic intuition.  Flowers show up at the end of disasterous day at work, complete with take-out and a candlelit dining room.  How ever did he know? 

He doesn't.  No person should ever be subject to being your sole source of happiness.  The expectation is, for all intent and purpose, emotional abuse. Granted, I am looking in the rearview mirror but that also gives me incredible wisdom to warn those before it's too late to avoid the potholes.  It's no one's job to make me happy.  I either am or I am not.  You'd be amazed at how easy a happy life can be.  It's as easy as making your mind up to be.  It is as simple as staying focused on being grateful.  It is as merciful as being as quick to forgive as you'd like to be forgiven.  It's that elementary and it's doable.  It takes deliberate practice.  Just like any start of a new routine.  You need to give it time and consistency before it becomes habit but it is worth sticking with for your sanity and the health of your relationship.  If you have issues in your life that stand in the way of peace, get help.  Don't look to your poor spouse to be the salve for your wounds.  That's God's job. Never elevate anyone in your life to the status of God. You'll always be sorely disappointed. 

I have had a great opportunity, with my husband's passing, to look over my own shortcomings with soul searching and prayer.  I wanted to make no provision to fall into the same patterns I've had before in letting someone else determine my state of mind, good, bad or otherwise.  They were, at times, hard to look at. I had to come to terms with some emotional patterns in my life that caused pain in my relationships with others.  One of them was anger.  I became frustrated with people easily and anger always followed.  I would feel justified in my emotional response because they should know better.  In all of this, I seldom was able to effectively or proactively communicate what my needs were in the first place.  I would sour when they weren't met. This was true especially of my relationship with my husband. 

Great peace came when I realized that in my making amends with behaviors past and asking God to bind my broken ways that I felt a tranquility and ease with people that I hadn't before.  As I sought recovery from my old ways, healing came.  The patterns slowed and then stopped.  I was able to state what I needed and see what the response would be instead of silently and anxiously awaiting outcomes.  I was less anxious with others so I didn't stress as readily.  More patience came.  The more I could articulate, the more I could relax. 

Something else happened.  I didn't feel lonely.  I wasn't in any hurry to find another.  I felt whole on my own so I didn't have the need to go chasing after my next relationship.  There was no need to meet.  Sure, I do feel a little solitary sometimes but I am not feeling like I am missing out on any great thing like I did before.  I know it will happen again and when it does I suspect that I'll be in a much better place to say, "Hello".  The holes are filling in. 

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