With An Open Heart

I don’t know about any of you, but I’ve started questioning this cultural expectation that we’re supposed to be with one person for the rest of our lives. And that if we walk away from a long-term relationship, marriage or partnership, that somehow we’ve failed. Believe me, the romantic notion of ‘happily ever after’ is one that I love, especially in the context of film. Always rooting for the couple to make it in the end, having spent 2 hours invested in their cinematic journey together. And relishing in the belief that when the credits roll, everything I witnessed remains safe and true. Unrealistic, yes. However, there’s something so beautifully hopeful there. And after all, hope floats.

Love cannot be quantified. It’s organic, fluid and doesn’t necessarily fall into the “forever” category. For some, we fit as a couple at one particular time. And when one evolves, and another stays still, things can change. This doesn’t make either wrong, it simply alters the path that two people set out to embark on together. What may have started as two, becomes one, until you find another person who opens your heart to what you’re needing in that next moment.

Personally, I’ve never fully bought into the story that one person will complete me. I often marvel at my friends who have committed to their person for the long-haul. I admire these couples because it shows that there’s a level of effort being made to sustain the union. There have been stages of my adult life in which I was open to a particular individual because it was the right time. Who I was, is what I attracted and vice versa. Each relationship meant to serve as an offering; allowing me to heal old wounds and ultimately contributing to a rich personal growth experience. I’ve found these people to be my greatest teachers, ones that often strengthen my purpose and shine light on the parts of myself that required a little tender loving.

In the times when I’ve had this unrealistic expectation of my relationships, this quiet unwavering pressure sets in, slowly decaying what could’ve been. Where is this going, what does it mean, will we get married, have babies, etc. It’s overwhelming and even the best of people falter under the weight of so many what ifs. Instead, there’s value in being in the moment, taking the pressure off and fully experiencing what is right in front of you. Even if it’s only short-term.

I believe there is power in saying goodbye. People change. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead of viewing it as some kind of betrayal, try looking at it as a gift. Two years ago, I ended a relationship that forced me to reevaluate my current life circumstances and areas in which I conceded, putting other’s happiness high above my own. Our ending was the catalyst for me to take some action, instead of staying stuck in something that wasn’t right anymore.

During that relationship, I experienced many joys, including navigating parenthood (albeit step-parenthood). At its best, my relationship provided a sense of comfort and safety; opening my heart to both my partner and his 6 year old daughter. For awhile, we fit, and we fit well until I began to notice the imbalance of it all. I was conceding and compromising too much and as I grappled to identify reasons for that, our dynamic shifted. As a result, we became misaligned, stopped putting in the effort and eventually our currents could no longer flow together in existence nor harmony. I came to recognize that as I gave so much of myself, I began to lose who I was at my core. And with that, came tremendous sadness, confusion and resentment.

Instead of staying in something that no longer fulfilled my purpose or my emotional needs, I came into my own and began the process of introspection; something that I had been hiding from for years. And then after some time, I met one amazing person who changed the course of my life in so many ways. It was unexpected, beautiful and real. We fit for some time, loved and supported one another until one of us was unable to continue due to their own limiting beliefs. And so we said goodbye, holding onto something special yet recognizing it was time to move onward.

When feelings of the heart change or more importantly, if you’ve grown apart, do everything possible to come back together again. Look within and always try. But if you’re the only one trying, what is it all for? An equal measure of effort, understanding and attentiveness needs to be in place for the work to happen. Allow one another the space to have their own experiences to evolve independently while also staying connected to the partnership. If you’ve done everything possible and still find that it’s time to separate, listen to that intuition and make decisions from a place of raw authenticity.

If you’re committed to every aspect of yourself, your partner’s personal development, and are able to recognize that relationships take work, even at their peak, than hold on with all your might. Stay the course, be curious, take risks, identify areas that are holding you back. Don’t just give up without knowing why. We were put on this earth for connection and deep intimacy. Don’t let fear influence the decision to stay or go. For you never know who may walk in or out of your life.

We may not always go where we intend to go or end up with the person (or persons) we imagined would be our forever. Ask yourself who can you become from these experiences? There are so many loves to be had, in more than one capacity, and sweet moments to cherish. Don’t put yourself in a box and certainly don’t settle for something that no longer feeds your soul. We are not meant to struggle in connection to one another. We’re here to learn from and become better versions of ourselves. Be brave, carry on and remain open to the possibility of it all.