Nothing feels more pejorative than being told to forgive yourself when you don’t even know who the hell you are anymore because a lifetime of energy has been invested in defending yourself. You have been strong enough to survive. You have fought the good fight. You have thwarted disappointment and championed justice. You have made the money, paid the bills, and woke up for 5am palates.
Let’s not even mention the narcissists you have had to put up with, your fucked up childhood, the trauma that happened in college, or the years it took and is still taking to realize your dream. Actually, let’s mention that last one. Is there any other point to living than to hold fast to a vision of who you are becoming in every moment?
We all have a purpose and a path to that purpose. It looks and feels different for everyone.
And the common truth for every human is that we all are figuring it out one moment at a time.
We build bridges to our futures by getting married, getting higher education, traveling the world, having children, innovating, and expressing ourselves through the many mediums of art. Conversely, we burn bridges by divorcing, giving up on our dreams, staying in one place for a long time, having and abandoning our children, being ridged, and judging everything that is different as wrong.
Sometimes that path to the bridge is long and winding. Let’s just say it is always long and winding with intermittent moments of magic. That’s life. And the most important bridge we can build is forgiveness.
It is obvious to look outside of ourselves at other humans we can forgive, circumstances we can forgive, or even forgiving our higher power. But, the most profound forgiveness happens between our shadow and our light.
That which you don’t own up to will own your ass. Think of all the things you judge out of your reality. Are you judging men harshly for hurting you? Are you blaming women for the losses in your life? What hurts have turned into judgements? What disappointments have transformed into walls? What is blocking you from really living your destiny?
The obstacle is the path. Sometimes we have to release years of pent up rage and frustration through the cathartic act of burning old love letters, screaming “Fuck you” at the top of our lungs, or finding some safe container—like a therapist’s office or boxing gym—to access our body in a way that hits the reset button.
One of the greatest tools to access forgiveness and to start building the bridge to more possibility is to ask yourself, “What’s not wrong?” There are some lessons that are more difficult to integrate than others like divorce, chronic illness, or rejection. And if you stop to ask, “What’s not wrong?” then the lesson will reveal itself in its purest form. Often times the strength to emerge as more of who you really are takes being broken open.
Forgiveness is an inside job. It takes resources such as faith, community, willingness, and acceptance to take what was broken, and rather than glue it back together, expand the space by bridging the broken pieces.
Every place there is resistance is an invitation for forgiveness. Every person you dislike is provoking you to forgive. Every stress that arises from the feeling of not having or being enough is stressing the importance of forgiveness. Every time you want to shut down and hide is the time to begin to build your bridge.
Now is always the best time to forgive.
They sit across from me—couples desperate for answers on how to stay together, singles panicked that their last love was in fact their “last love”, and partners at odds which each other who see breaking up as the only path to freedom or at least relief.
I would say that my life path has had a unique yet common trajectory. A friend pointed out to me that I exposed myself to every weird emotion possible and was meant to be a relationship counselor. She made this comment after I told her that my teen years were spent lusting after this nineteen year old air force guy who used to sneak me on base, into his dorm room, and there we would lay side by side. While he slept I would just stare at him and then go home, listen to Garth Brooks, lament and write really bad poetry.
In some ways, my life has been poetic. It has replicated the soliloquies, prose, and sonnets I poured onto paper as a youth.
In my life, love has mostly been tragic.
Of course I couldn’t accept that tragedy was the hallmark of love, so I set out to research it. I spend ten effen years in school, in and out of bad relationships, in love, falling out of love, single and happy, single and lonely, and just plain single. I traced the trail of love a thousand times over until I could look at it from a bird’s eye view and scrutinize it with the eyes of a lynx.
What can I say? Relationships are hard. It’s not just a well worn saying. It is so factual it could be a law.
In my life, in the lives of my clients, and in the lives of dear friends I’ve witnessed the elations that come with being in a couple and the sickening defenses that are employed when feeling misunderstood. Much of the time and energy that gets expended in relationship has to do with each party explaining themselves and making sure that the internal picture he or she holds for himself or herself is validated by his or her partner.
Validating someone else’s existence while maintaining your own is hard work. This is especially true when the person who is seeking validation has no fucking clue who they are. And who we are is a moving target.
It gets even trickier when both people are discovering who they are through the vehicle that is the relationship.
But wait, there’s more!
When in the relationship people often discover who they are by uncovering what they don’t want. And then there is even more. Once what is not wanted is discovered, plans begin being made for what to do about it and expectations get projected onto the other party about how they should act so that at least one person in the relationship can get what they want.
Game. Set. Match.
We haven’t even begun to complicate things. First there is a desire to get what you want. That desire gets projected onto a lover. Then that lover fakes like he or she hasn’t an insecurity and can be the thing you need or you just assume they will be. Next, you realize, “Holy shit! They are not living up to my ideal.” This process can happen in five minutes or five years. When it happens sooner than later it just looks like rejection but when it happens later than sooner it looks like a string of justifications.
It sounds like, “He was just so good in bed I couldn’t leave.” “She was pretty good company most of the time.” I haven’t forgotten about sex. No one ever forgets about sex.
Sex is the great multiplier (pun intended).
Even one night stands create history between two people who would otherwise remain as close as strangers who sit next to each other on the same flight. There are those rare and beautiful moments where this orchestra of ego, desire, lust, fantasy, mommy issues and daddy issues coalesce into a cohesive relationship. Hollywood has built an industry off of these moments.
And relationship counselors have built an industry on all the other moments—the crises and the awakenings.
So how can you tell if your breakup is a crises or an awakening? The simple answer is that it is a crisis if you jump into another relationship or use some form of distraction to numb out rather than take the time needed to be introspective. If you skip learning from what you’ve experienced—live the unexamined life—it’s a crisis.
And in crisis blame, codependence, and addiction often get confused for true love. There is no force more powerful than true love.
Having a long-term, lasting and sustainable relationship is a humbling experience. It takes time to arrive at a place where you can be genuinely curious about how your partner views the world. They are more than just a sounding board, a validation machine, or an approval meter. They are so fucking beautiful in their uniqueness that you can’t help but want to drink in all parts of them thereby being transformed.
Waking up requires listening. Listening, like wisdom, doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over the course of many nights, days, events, emotions, and celebrations.
If your breakup teaches you these things it is an awakening:
1. Be humble and listen.
2. You do not have the answers for someone else’s life.
3. You are your own person and must remain your own person.
4. Communication is king.
5. You are ten times more clear on what fits in your life and what doesn’t.
6. Timing matters. Right person. Wrong time. Wrong person.
7. Sex isn’t the point.
8. You are a better version of yourself for having loved, continuing to love, and for getting the fuck out when you did.
9. He’s not wrong. She’s not wrong. It just didn’t fit.
10. Love never dies. It just expands through the cracks of a broken heart.
It will take time to feel the pangs of crisis melt away and the insight of awakening dominate your awareness. It will take more time than you want it to. And in the mean time, you may numb out, hook up, get down, force the issue, play with fire, try again, isolate, burn time on social media, and so on.
Sometimes before we come more of who we are we are less of who we are. We people please. We flirt with delusions of grandeur. We sell out, put out, and numb out. On the way to awakening we pass through the gateway of fear and the terror of crisis.
You can’t really get it wrong.
Just keep going. Just keep growing.
The Truth About “Meant to Be”
Every single person has a soul mate and is a soul mate. There are several other fancy terms that encapsulate all the romantic notions humans perpetuate about love. Some are searching for “The One.” Others are holding out for their Twin Flame. And some people do meet their counterpart while others don’t.
So how do you know if what is occurring in your life is actually what is meant to be?
Simple answer, because it is. But, nothing about relationships is simple.
In fact, it takes a lifetime to get to know someone; that someone being yourself. It is the most steady and constant, albeit frustrating, relationship you will have. I know it is trite to say that and healthy relationships are predicated on high self-esteem—getting to know yourself.
Self-esteem is like Texas Tea; oil that is. It fuels a whole bunch of things, keeps things flowing and well, well oiled. Self-esteem is the voice that says to a lover who is not on the same page as you, “I understand we want different things and I am not going to give up my values to be with you.” Self-esteem can carry you through the valley of the shadow of death. Evil will fear you! And self-esteem is at the core of meant to be.
When self-esteem is in low supply a whole slew of dysfunctional behaviors act as understudies. They barely know the role and fake their way through the really important parts. The plot line comes right out of codependency and addiction.
Self-esteem says, “I am valuable and worth loving in a way that feels good and is honoring to everyone involved.” Its understudies say, “People and the world need to change to make me feel better and if they don’t there is something wrong that I will devote all my time trying to fix even if that means lying to myself and others.”
It is convenient to lie because it dispels the discomfort of not knowing. In other words, there are no certainties in life. Self-esteem gets this. Nothing lasts forever; even telling the truth. What was true for you at twenty, “I’m not ready to have children” may be a total lie at thirty.
Lies go on about forever. “It will always be this way.” That is the great illusion of romance, “Happily ever after and so on.”
Essentially, when you love someone and they don’t love you back; they could be your soul mate. Soul mates don’t always take the form of partners. Sometimes they are teachers—the most ruthless and brutal kinds. True soul mates sharpen our edges and dull our senses.
They can make us better people or lull us into a stupor that takes true loves kiss to wake from.
If a soul mate has drifted into your life, they are meant to be there and when they arrive will shape the role they play. If a soul mate shows up at a time when you are receptive to being in a committed relationship they may not feel the same. It is not because they are malice or cruel. It is because they are acting as a strong force in your life for self-examination.
Next to our parents our soul mates contribute the most to our lives. They can even help us repair all the damage parents do (there is no escaping it.)
And when things are charged up and alive between two people, it is natural to get attached. It is natural to fantasize about forever. It is natural to set goals and expect certain outcomes.
And things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, having the bottom drop out and then picking yourself back up again is what builds self-esteem. Being coddled creates the Peter Pans and Pinocchios of the dating world. Self-esteem transforms us into real boys and girls who know that you cannot change others.
You must simply let them be who they are. If this is done then who they are freely and willingly will choose to be with you or to not. There is no coercion or manipulation involved. Meant to be is the result of allowing things to be as they are.
It is the continued application of compassion and acceptance. It is the giving and receiving of freedom.
I’ve been in love with someone who has yet to develop the life skills needed to sustain a committed relationship and while his company was soothing in the moment it did little to provide me true security. In fact, for a while I tried to show him how amazing I was by giving and giving. This didn’t work because he, of course, could feel my desire for commitment under my giving. There were strings attached. So, rather than be false in my giving, I made a request for what I needed and set him free.
In this way, if he returns to my life it will be meant to be because choice not manipulation, truth not fear motivates both of our beings.
Say what you mean and it will give meaning to your being.
Simply, do not fret about outcomes that don’t match your desires. Your desires are being refined by such outcomes. And when you do get what you want it is because the timing is right, you are alive and full of choice, and all parties involved feel the same way.
The truth will set you free and it will determine your meant to be.
Relationship is Home
There are moments in life that feel impossible; moments where the vision of what could be is not enough to alleviate the pain of what is. In places like Boulder Colorado, Ashville North Carolina or Santa Cruz California people talk of these moments in astrological terms. “It is because of the eclipse that I feel like shit.” “It is because of the placement of the planets that I am having a difficult time manifesting my desires.” Granted, planets and moons have some sway but the real gravity in our lives can be found in the strength of relationships.
Friendships, lovers, parents, mentors, teachers, students and even passing acquaintances influence who we are and who we are becoming. Family is the original care-giving network. It is a place where values are instilled, morals are imbedded and love is shared. Of course, not all family structures are equal and romantic relationships is the playground where family patterns get repeated.
Romantic relationship is second to family in its impact to the directionality in one’s life. Moreover, romantic relationship is the egg to the chicken in that without it families would not form. And family is what you are born into while romantic relationship is something you choose. Some would argue that fate imposes both. Either way you slice it they are both influential and form the fabric of life.
Further, after childhood years are traversed adulthood is the labyrinth we all must walk through and it is not an easy journey. It is not easy because childhood is about learning the rules and adulthood is learning which rules you are willing to break. It is about becoming your own person.
Becoming your own person is both an exercise in awareness, willingness to participate and make some new rules. Simply, we learn who we are through relationships.
I was answering questions during my intake for acupuncture and one of the questions asked was, “What is home to you.” I started to describe a simple home filled with plants, a loving husband and simple decor. Then I paused and my heart answered the question in a succinct and sentimental manner, “Relationship is my home.”
I imagine this to be true for every sentient being. Home is where the heart is. It has also been said that wild hearts can’t be broken. It is poor misinterpretation to believe that wildness staves off defeat, disappointment or delusion. All hearts can be broken. But, wild hearts are wild because they cannot be domesticated by the will of another, the force of planets or the influence of family tradition. Wild hearts seek out and find their truth north.
Finding the second star on the right that leads straight onto morning takes perseverance and endurance.
A foolish farmer plants seeds and expects them to sprout the next day. The paradox of inspiration is that it can be felt instantly and take years to make manifest. Inspiration is the seed. Commitment is the soil.
The longing of the soul informs the timing of planting seeds. Every person has a dream. When I rise in the morning I never think about slipping on a suit and going to the New York stock exchange, plumbing clogged pipes or building a home. I think about writing articles, healing broken-hearts, dancing, hiking and doing things that nurture my soul’s longings.
I have come to discover that the visions we hold for our life could not come into our consciousness unless those visions are actually possible to realize. This is what is meant by “God does not give you more than you can handle.” You will not be inspired beyond your capacity to realize that inspiration. Think about the ingenuity of man. Think about Felix who skydived from space. Think about acrobats. Think about the Wolf of Wall Street. All reality begins as a flicker of a notion. These notions are then realized through movements, through reciprocal relationships and are refined through rejection.
And life is not a sprint; it is a marathon.
The comforts of home sport a wild heart. Initial inspiration plus devotion results in realization of desire. That which feels impossible now is but a moment drawing you back to the drawing board. Home can exist inside the arms of the one you love or it can be found inside the seeking of truth. Home is a road paved with yellow bricks that leads to a wizard with a single power—to convey the lesson that power lies within. Home is courage, brains and heart accompanying you on your life journey in the form of friends.
Home is the relationship you form with your existence. It is what it is. Be what you will be. As for me, I’m going home.
Author’s note: I dedicate this article to the love of my life. If I know what love is it is because of you and because of love I know who I am.
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