Breaking up is hard to do… especially as a mum

Unexpectedly, during a conversation with my guy, he and I saw unbridgeable gaps in our relationship and so decided to end it. 

Even though my head could hear and understand what he was saying, and even though I had already realized these gaps, my heart has been slower to catch up. As my first “real” relationship after my marriage ended, I knew I had a lot to learn and had a lot of room to grow. He was perfect for me while I was navigating this new path, and I deeply appreciate and cherish him for that. 

But I’m sad, nonetheless. 

After about a week, I realized I wanted to talk to trio about him and I. I finally felt capable of saying the words “we broke up” without throwing up or crying, and didn’t want to wait too long because I anticipated one of them would ask “when did this happen?” and couldn’t handle the deception of either lying to them about it, or letting them know it happened a long time ago. 

So without much preamble, I just baldly stated that we decided to end our relationship. They had questions, and I tried to stay open and honest and respond with age appropriate answers. At one point I teared up a little, and that alarmed my oldest (he was very concerned if I was Ok) and saddened my youngest (she didn’t want me to be sad), and my middle just sort of let it wash over him. 

The perspective my oldest shared was amazing – he recognized that it’s not as devastating as a marriage break up, and that having misalignment is ok because there is the capacity to learn. He kept checking in to make sure I was ok, and asked poignant questions like, if he told me he loved me and wanted to get back together – what would I say? 

I’m glad I waited until I was no longer so cry-y, and I’m glad that throughout our whole relationship trio and I chatted about what was happening in my dating life (to a certain degree!!)

Having kids helped me maintain my rudder during the tumultuous years after my marriage ending, and they continue to ground me and highlight my path as I experience other relationships. 

I feel deeply blessed that I had the experience of this relationship, and for my kiddos who are with me on my journey. The path may be rocky or difficult to discern, but I trust my feet and my heart. And I know that I can’t get lost, maybe especially because I’m a mum.

xo 

Navigating dating like a ropes course

Maybe you remember that dating and getting to know someone is new for me. My whole world can easily be seen in the eyes of trio, and there aren’t any men reflected there (for better or worse… and it is what it is).

So maybe you also know that there *has* been a man recently who has shaken me up and shown me that it’s okay to date and enjoy being out with a man who opens doors for me, who is interested in experiencing new things together, and can talk about everything and anything with warmth and kindness.

Recently, he and I were joking around, but the concept of something he said really stuck: that it can take a long time (like, a couple of years!) to find all the corners in another person and decide if it all can truly be embraced and loved.

Whaaat?

Does everyone else know this but me?

*That* is what dating means?? That we’re setting out with the intention to find all the icky bits and the lovely bits and the hard bits and the soft bits, and to see how they all mesh with mine? And probably, to find some of my own bits inside that I didn’t realize were there too. This is a concept WAY more grasp-able at 39 than it would have been at 19.

As a visual person, I imagined a ropes course. A very long course with varying degrees of challenges. In dating, we go through this sort of together; checking to see how we enjoy each other, how we handle the tough spots, how we communicate and celebrate the successes, but also to learn about when we want to go it alone and when we want support, and how to be okay with all of that. We can see each other no matter where we both are – do we encourage or get frustrated? Do we wait for each other or is it a race?

SONY DSC
Little Cove, Tobermory

This shift was quite profound in the way I consider dating. It relaxed me. It allowed me to see a larger picture. For him and I, it’s not a race. We *want* to experience the full course and learn as much as possible about each other. We want to see how we each deal and communicate and to see how we grow as individuals.

There’s a definite ending to the course, when we can go into the chalet and enjoy a hot bevvy and maybe a dip in a hot tub together – but we can also tap out at any time and feel richer because of our time together, and realize we know more about ourselves and the world around us than we did before.

How magical is that?!

 

Dating done different

The last time I dated in earnest, cell phones were brand new. And I was only just barely out of my teens. I now have a teen of my own. Weird.

The really weird thing is that I have to use a new paradigm. It is inappropriate for me to ‘act the role’ when I’m meeting someone new. I have balls now. I get shit done. I’ve lived, and loved, and lost and there’s not much someone can show me that’s new.

This dovetails back to my questions about why bother dating at all? What am I really getting out of it? I don’t need another person to take care of, nor do I need a man to take care of me. This has stymied me and prevented me from exerting any effort into the relationship world. Not to mention the fact that I don’t really understand what is so great about relationships anyhow. But that’s a story for another day.

Today’s story:
Sliding over the details, I met a man. This man shakes up my world and asks me to set aside that which I thought I understood to try and consider a new perspective. He listens, and offers insight, and reflects concepts and understandings back to me. He inspires me to be real and genuine and authentic and is helping me understand that my own self-love is the first ingredient in a healthy relationship with others. He operates out of a dating paradigm that is unlike anything I’ve ever known or understood. He has a laundry list of characteristics and traits that I enjoy – I’m sure you know the ones I mean.
The thing that sets him apart from any other man I’ve ever known is his spark and zestiness combined with a wisdom and depth that I wasn’t expecting.

He says no games, and I actually think he means No Games. I can be pretty direct and open with my thoughts and feelings, but I have a hard time trusting over the long term. The part with No Games that I struggle is in the behaviours and weird emotional bits that drag me into the familiarity of push-me/pull-me.
Into me getting wrapped up into what-is-he-thinking-about-right-now?
Into does-he-really-like-me?
Into me analyzing myself and every exchange we’ve had and wondering if it was the right thing to say.
Into thinking about who sent the last text or the first text and therefore who should be texting the next time.
Ugh. Like super-ugh! Who has time or energy for *that*???

So I found and adopted this New Way of Thinking of Relationships:

  • We are sharing life’s adventures
  • I am practicing acceptance and empathy
  • I am developing my communication skills
  • I am learning about trust
  • I am present in this moment as I lift my eyes up and take a look

This has shifted my relationship focus off of the generic him who stands before me, and lets me dive a little deeper into the real individual standing beside me. It takes away the slightly aggressive and possibly antagonistic face-to-face quality of comparing, and lets me look sideways at him to imagine him as my partner, walking beside me for this part of my journey. In a very real way, it puts me back in my own shoes as I walk.

If I am getting huffy and hurt that he’s not responding to my passive-aggressive hints, I remember that I’m learning about trust and am developing my communication skills – I have the power to change the conversation. And if I don’t like his answer, I can practice empathy and acceptance. And if I look up and see that we are no longer sharing life’s adventures – then what.the.fuck. am I doing here? And then I have more decisions to make. It’s still early days so he and I haven’t had any moments where I’m hurt and huffy and trying to force him to get a clue. I very honestly and directly tell him what I’m feeling and thinking and we go from there. He hasn’t yet told me I’m ridiculous, nor has he intimated that he doesn’t want to talk about it. It feels that he sets things aside and hangs in with me while we work through stuff – all the while asking questions, telling me stories or things from his past, making poignant comments.

Obviously, I could go on and on about him.

However – it stands to show that there ARE other ways to date. And there ARE other ways to consider what dating might mean for you – maybe it’s not acceptance, maybe it’s something else. But I believe it is through dating (and all relationships, really) that affords you the ability to learn and grow.

That is a new thought for me. And maybe that’s part of the answer to “Why bother dating at all?”

 

here comes the sun
Here comes the sun