During my childhood, I always thought that the society is based on the feeling of love and that love is the only thing we should strive for. That’s at least what I learned from my mum’s behavior and my close surrounding. All you need is love. There a person there waiting just for you. Etc. Fairy-tales. Well, after I gained certain real-life experience, I realized there’s something deeply wrong with this postulate. To a certain point it is true – don’t get me wrong, I am an altruist and I deeply understand the true importance of empathy. But, when it comes to relationships and finding a partner you would like to spend your life with, well, in my humble opinion, there are things apart from Love that should play a very important role, too. My experience thought me these are called Reason, Self-Awareness, Personal Growth and Wisdom. And I stick to a belief that these life lessons are the best things that have ever happened to me. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
L 1: Love – Falling in love vs. Loving
I fell in love so easily when I was a teenager. To me, falling in love was the most important thing in the world. It proved I was alive. Of course, being all so naïve, I had to learn the hard way that love is not just stars and butterflies. It so happened that me and my first boyfriend shared the same romantic soul and a tendency to idealize a partner. After two years, his fantasies first melted, and the moment he stopped feeling the butterflies, he panicked and broke up with me. I was so devastated and hurt! But this pain I felt taught me such an important lesson – falling in love is definitely not enough. It’s not even necessary! It just means you want your desire to be fulfilled. And this is not so mature, you’ll agree. Love needs to be empowered with trust, understanding and tolerance, and these feelings ask for a pinch of reason and wisdom as well. So, let’s step to Lesson 2.
L2: Reason – Ideal partner – What a waste of life
I didn’t like the idea of being called a reasonable person. Growing up was, for me, incredibly scary. I didn’t want to grow up – that would mean giving up my dreams, getting old and having to pretend to be an adult. Searching for an ideal life partner goes in the same basket with the ideas of growing up I just mentioned. It’s not real. What’s even worse – it’s not healthy. It immediately reminds me of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, who wore the same wedding dress for years, waiting for her dear one to come back. “Ideal soul mate” doesn’t exist. Sad, but true. So, stop searching for him/her or you’ll end up being unhappy all the time. I realized I need to learn how to get to know a person I liked in the first place. And in order to do that, I first needed to get to know yourself – which leads us to step 3.
L3: Self-awareness – Who are you?
Breaking up and being left on my own was a frightening idea. For some time after a long relationship I quickly changed partners in order to get rid of that fear. I tried to stop the emotion by walking on clouds. But, “despair is the price one pays for self-awareness”1. It took me awhile to understand that uncertainty is a welcoming idea and that being single can truly be awesome. Why? Because you have time to get to know your own fears and accept them. Accept who you are, with all the mistakes you made. Accept your own demons. Only then you can confidently stand in front of the others. And you won’t need anyone else’s appraisals.
L4: Personal Growth – You can’t save others if they don’t want to be saved
Once I stepped into marriage for the first time, I had enormous amounts of energy, love and dedication, romantically and somewhat desperately wanting to succeed. I was so sure I’d be able to change my ex-husband’s inertness and lack of self-confidence. I was a dedicated psychotherapist, a wife, a lover, a cook, basically, I took over the roles in order to save the marriage that was doomed to fail. Because it takes two to tango. I embraced the idea of personal growth wanting to teach my partner the lessons I learned. But, after some time, I stopped trying and decided to leave. And that was the best step I have taken for myself. That was my growth.
L5: Wisdom – Learn to let go
I feared I won’t be able to cope with the divorce and all the ugly steps. However, with no kids, I quickly found the best way of how to file for divorce in Oregon, where I used to live, and everything went smoothly. I moved and I left enormous burden behind me. I took a while to get over the feeling of failure, but letting go was a life-saving step that made me feel alive again.
I like thinking that it’s in man’s nature to constantly search for beauty, harmony, fulfillment – in short – we constantly reach for love and emotion. The way we’re going to achieve this do is entirely up to us. And the consequences and results are, thus, also, our own to bear. Follow your heart, but choose wisely.