Gotta Love Somebody
When I was married, and incidentally cheating on my husband, I got together with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. I think I was reaching out to all my former mentors because I didn’t know what the f*ck to do.
I was unhappy, cheating, getting away with it, feeling shitty about myself, and looking for answers.
I told him how miserable I was in my marriage. He said: “But you’re going to stay in the marriage, right?” My face twisted up in a grimace. I told him I wasn’t so sure about that. He asked me if I was cheating. I said no. I lied about my lying. The double whammy of lies. It felt doubly bad.
He told me about his second marriage. He was happy. He told a story of how they “ran into each other” at an event out of state, years after we’d all worked together. I was pretty sure the story was fabricated and that he had been cheating on his first wife with his now second wife (we’ll call her Vicky) at the agency back when I was fresh out of college. Takes one to know one.
But now, as I sat across from him at this lunch that I’d requested in some kind of desperate attempt to…be saved by him…. he told me about his marriage with Vicky. He seemed happy in a way I had never known him to be. I remember word for word what he said next. I didn’t take it in that day like I do now. Hell, I didn’t even have enough life experience to get it then. This is what he said: “You’ve got to love somebody, sometime.”
I went on, as you probably know, to choose divorce myself and did not stay with my partner in crime. I’ve had a number of relationships in the past 16 (!) years since I’ve been divorced. Some good, some horrible, and everything in between. I learned and I grew and sometimes I experienced pain so deep I got really motivated to look at myself and wonder what it all had to do with me. NO ONE can be that bad at picking people! (No, I’m sorry-not-sorry to say: we pick exactly the right people to shine a light on our deepest core wounds so that we can heal them.)
And then, one day, about six months ago I started dating a man that helped me realize what my friend meant all those years ago. It doesn’t really mean that I didn’t love the others. I did. It’s simply that now, I’ve done enough of my own work letting go of the past- that I’ve kind of run out of excuses to keep ending relationships. Does this mean I’ve arrived? Uh, no. It means I project less of my shit onto my partner because there is a whole lot less unhealed stuff to project. And when I do project, it doesn’t last long. And somehow, he can tolerate my new, less intense “stuff” that still lingers. And I can tolerate his. And we learn from what comes up for each of us. And we grow. And we do better next time.
And finally, finally, as terrifying as it is sometimes, I have to admit that I can see myself doing this indefinitely. And that, my friends, is what my wise mentor was talking about. Lovin’ somebody sometime. I highly recommend you just keep going ’til you get there.