I have a joke on Twitter that if you take the "I" out of married and say that I was "marred" it's still completely accurate. I was marred by marriage; if you were to have asked me even a couple of days ago, that would have been my answer. I loved fully and openly, fought for my marriage and lost big time. I was taken advantage of, betrayed, neglected, and abused. That's one perspective no one would have faulted me for having - divorce shatters many illusions and leaves crippled hearts in its wake.
Sometimes the miracles isn't in "I do." it's in "Undo."
It's amazing how perspective can change over the course of an hour, a day, a week - or in a second. A new perspective is like a wild wind funneling through a silent, dusty, forgotten home. Refreshing and renewing, it carries away the past on the breeze.
Instead of being the victim, the wounded one with the closed and closely guarded heart, afraid to trust and love again, what if the opposite were true? What if I wasn't a victim at all? What if my marriage was a testament to my loyalty, tenacity and dedication? A sign of my unwavering commitment despite the fear and the unknown terrain? A symbol of my faith in the goodness that I believe exists in all people and the possibility for change to occur if one wants it badly enough? And statement of my willingness to try again and again despite crushing failures to put my vulnerability on the table?
Now, my perspective is: fuck victimhood. Fuck it with a capital F. Not to say that I was perfect, I wasn't. I just know that I can either give myself some credit or go on feeling like an idiot. I was naive and didn't know how to ask for what I really wanted or needed, even from myself. Instead of reliving all those years as wasted and angry that I can't get them back, I'm deciding that my marriage meant so much more than the pain; it was an education. A willingness to fight for love until it could no longer be resuscitated. When I look at myself from this perspective, I'm fucking awesome - I much prefer that to one of a sad-eyed martyr.
My eight year marriage began when I had just turned twenty: wide-eyed, blindly optimistic and stubborn as all hell. I picked up the red flags after I was married and got a good hard look at the mess I married into. It was too late to turn back, especially where love was involved. The marriage was one of struggle and silences, of omissions and emotional espionage.
I supported another through his faults, humanness and foibles, encouraged him and was a shoulder to cry on. Not allowing his bullshit and fighting bitterly because of it. Perhaps he was not ready to change. Perhaps he was not ready for real commitment and what it took. Maybe he wasn't ready and open to the challenge to show up and surrender. And that is okay. You can't demand from another what they cannot give. I know that I at least showed up and gave him my love and loyalty, even if it bored him. Even if he took it for granted. I know now that he tried his best to love me in his way.
In the end, it was a worthy cause.
I learned what I wanted, needed, what I should fight for and when it was time to let go. I learned to fight for myself, to listen to and trust myself, to take care of me by listening to my intuition and never betraying that voice. I learned to draw boundaries, even if they were in crayon, to protect myself and to ask for what I need. Broken relationships are not a failure or waste if we have learned from them and grown into who we are, fully honoring ourselves.
I was born knowing how to love fully unafraid - I walked towards the fire, I jumped from the heights, I faced the dragons. I knew how to reach out to those who did not know what love was or were too hurt to allow it in. At some point, I forgot who I was. A warrior, a persevering fighter whose willful demeanor frustrated those whose aim was to control. To love another is never a waste, it is a gift.
By being a lover, I have learned how to love myself. It didn't happen the other way around, this was my path. I had learned how to love others openly and wholly while denying myself that right. I gave and gave until my well was empty, and yet there were plenty of tears. I was screaming on the inside for love, for some kind of compassion but there was none to be found in the sands of what remained. I got the leftovers. When we don't love ourselves, only what's outside of us, we fall in love with takers. When we can truly give to ourselves, take an interest in what our soul yearns for, to make ourselves happy to honor our feelings, to hold ourselves sacred in the physical, we will find another generous giver who reflects the love we have bestowed upon ourselves back to us, and it's a glorious thing.
I spent many years perplexed by how to love myself. I thought I did. I really did. I soon realized that I was numb, that I didn't listen to my own body, my emotions, the feelings and sensations that told me what was right and wrong for me. It took nearly going blind to stop me in my tracks. What had I been missing? I was not receiving. I started to feel my emotions, I began to follow my own joy. I traveled, went to concerts - anything that I loved I would multiply. I would say yes to what I loved. Friends, dancing, surrounding myself with what really lit me up. One day I broke down and cried. I realized that it was all icing, I was happy, but it was a happiness that would crash like a cheap high. I had my icing, but no fucking cake. I needed something substantial before I could add on any more levity. My heart broke open again. From there I began to search for deeper meaning of what I really desired and wanted in my life. This changed everything. I saw my blind spots, what had been holding me back all along. And I began to become that stubborn tiny warrior again. Day by day I earn her spirit back. I beckon her to come out and play, to show up to be authentically her because she is a magnificent creature. An angel with a dirty mouth. Gentle and wicked. Shy and boisterous. Serious and irreverent. She has so much love within her to give. Now she's ready to receive. I can't wait.