I committed to forever and followed that amazing path of love. It wasn't exactly the romance I envisioned... because I was too awkward to be dipped and kissed. I didn't wear dresses or red heels or put my foot up in the middle of the park on a hot summer's day like they show you in the movies. I wore hoodies and sweatpants with sneakers. I kept telling myself everything was going to be just fine. And it was for a while. I convinced myself it was, even when the many red flags were present.
But in reality, we were two people who re-enacted a mirror to our own parents' codependent relationship. I got married thinking that was the next best step. I knew that there was so much more to marriage but I didn't know the extent of how to actually do that. When two people are completely unaware of the reality they find themselves in, the effort seems to stop when comfort sets in.
We take for granted that there's actual work needed to make a relationship thrive. Just because we make a promise, doesn't mean that we stop watering our garden. We take for granted that our vows are just words. We hold onto words and stop taking action because we said the word 'forever'... and therefore that commitment more often than not evolves into complacency, laziness and minimal accountability.
We'd gather amongst our circle of wives and complain and bicker about our marriages. It would become a girls club where we'd bash and imitate our husbands' deep voices when pretending to talk like them cause that's what we're supposed to do.
Resentment is normal, I've been told. Sex stops and that's normal too. Sometimes they even stop asking for it and that relieves the pressure of the women to stop faking a headache or being tired.
Passion is also out the window. Becoming roommates is the next step to your forever. I was right on track with this conditional love because a lot of people told me this was normal. Isn't it messed up how deeply programmed we are to accept this instead of making an effort to keep the fire going? We try so damn hard to get to this place of "ever after" and the moment that becomes a sealed deal, we eventually stop giving a shit.
I've tried so hard to keep the peace in my last relationship that I developed a deep resentment and I know he did too. We lived a predictable cycle of upset, unspoken words, days of silence, shame and guilt, me taking responsibility and promising to do better next time. Saying sorry meant peace.. until the next cycle.
I definitely didn't feel safe enough to speak up and voice my feelings. I wasn't nurtured enough as a child to learn how to do this safely and efficiently. I just felt like whatever I thought or felt was irrational and never made an effort to be seen or heard. I bottled everything in and the only time I spoke up fully was when I demanded not to be interrupted. That was also the moment I decided on another type of forever... a forever attached to 'I am done'.
At what moment did I stop considering my own husband? When did I stop waking him up in the middle of the night to come to bed? When did I look at him and recognize that our love was not enough to stay? Did I fall in love with him or an idea in my head?
I feel that this relationship and marriage played a necessary and beautiful role in my growth and evolution. It showed me what I needed to heal in myself, what I didn't want in a relationship, what I truly deserved, and how to create healthy boundaries.
I personally thought I was dead inside. That my lady parts were paralyzed and the shop only opened once a month. There are so many people who get so lost in this web and so many that are willing to accept their own fate of this toxic and dead end forever. I took for granted that our vowed guarantee of love was enough to preserve us. I ignored the signs for a long time and got lost in my own delusion and self- created world.
And one day I made a courageous choice and ended it. We were both dead in that relationship and we had kids in the mix. It didn't feel good at the time. It tore me apart to have to be the one to make that decision and follow through. We had exercised our relationship to as far as it could have gone. And to be honest, when you have so much resentment built up and so many unspoken words, there comes a point of no return. Love and forever left us and I had to start the process of healing through that.
One doesn't realize the dysfunction until you can take a good look at yourself and the relationship as a whole. I can admit I didn't know how to make it work. I just lost that feeling or trying to reach my unrealistic love story with someone who couldn't meet my needs or expectations. But I take responsibility for not using my voice. I didn't know how to ask for what I needed.
After we separated and eventually divorced, I was able to nurture myself back into a place of healthy love. I was in a new mindset and had already began the healing process of understanding my codependent nature. We get so easily tricked into the trap of romance and an idea of what makes an ideal partner. We don't even realize how we are programmed to believe that we are incomplete without our partners. "You complete me" is a popular and unhealthy phrase heard often. We need to be pieced together to be whole with our beloved and separate "better half". We are not taught that we are whole on our own.
By putting our partners on a pedestal, I've learned that we do not give them permission to expand, grow and evolve. Instead, we try to mold them to be exactly who we want them to be instead of seeing them for who they truly are. With that comes the consequence of disappointment when they don't follow through on our unrealistic expectations.
Once I got my head out of the delusion of "what love is supposed to look and feel like", I learned that true love actually exists... but it took a lot of fucking hard work and commitment! It took a lot of deep shadow work and looking at the ugly parts of myself. I had to be shaken out of that deep programming of romance and understanding that relationships can get fucking ugly at times and your partner is literally mirroring the shit out of you.
It's not always gonna be rainbows and unicorns, it's gonna be painful at times but fucking REVOLUTIONARY for your growth.
When you commit fully and completely to yourself and your healing, you learn exactly what you want and don't want in life and in relationships. A healthy relationship asks that you show up and take accountability.
And I'm sorry to break it to the romantics out there but there is just no guarantee of forever. That was a hard one for me to accept.. there is only the guarantee of Now. Romance isn't always about the shit that they show you in the movies... it can sometimes show up as a simple "I love you but I can't talk to you right now" in the middle of an argument or vacuuming because that's simply their love language.
It might spark a bit of fear in people... that need to know that this will last forever. How about if I told you, if your partner can commit 100% of themselves to you right now and for all the now moments that exist, then they will always be in a place of honesty, of improving themselves, of committing themselves fully and completely without taking for granted a forever you may never see. There's beauty about the impermanence of life itself. We get to make better choices by appreciating what we have right now instead of naively trusting that "forever" will take care of the rest.
In my current relationship, we decided to commit not only to each other but to ourselves. I appreciate the beauty in trusting that we are each taking accountability for ourselves so that we can both evolve into better versions without any expectations of each other. The moment you see your partner as an imperfect human instead of an idealized version, the more you can appreciate them as a unique expression equal to your own. That is true unconditional love and acceptance- to hold a safe and sacred space for the growth and evolution of your partner.
When they grow, we grow. When we grow, they grow. It is a symbiotic relationship, interdependent, not codependent.
Our partner is not responsible for our happiness, but instead, they add to it like sprinkles on a cupcake.
It doesn't take much effort to fall in love. Anyone can do that. But it takes an immense amount of effort to show up fully and completely every single day. It's never going to be perfect but that's the whole thing... it's the everyday awareness of giving a shit, of speaking the honest truth and stating your needs and desires knowing you will be heard and seen. It is in knowing that you love your partner so much more than you did yesterday and that your love will continue to grow and expand as time goes.
Forever isn't a guarantee but I take a lot of comfort in knowing that our love and commitment to our own individual growth is what waters our ever growing garden. The love we feel right now is far more potent than a forever of uncertainty. True unconditional love is giving a shit every single day and proving it. I don't even fantasize anymore about being dipped for a kiss but if it were to happen, I'd awkwardly own it in my hoodie, sweats and sneakers... all in the name of romance.