I love Laurel's blog entry about Surrendering to Difficult Relationships.
But in reality, what is missing for me in this blog is the “reality.”
That reality, for me, is that the answers to these very important steps can only arise from a state of spiritual maturity, growth, and self-love.
Authentic handling of these steps requires a space of clarity and openness; a willingness to be vulnerable; and, most important, a space in which you first love yourself, without the affirmation of those around you and outside the boundaries and expectations of our social world.
I lived this reality.
My marriage was in tatters in 1996. For the next seven years I tried everything – anti-depressants, counseling, self-help books, church(es), more counseling, alcohol, and obsessive working and career climbing. Thoughts of suicide became more and more common.
I now know that I fought for this most intimate relationship in the most absurd way – first, without any self-love and self-worth, and second, in the company of others, allowing their influence to take precedence. Social norms and pressures prevailed, keeping the marriage vows and knot tied for more than 20 years.
Finally, I could not take the relationship any more. I garnered enough courage to somehow edge out my fears. I left. Broken. Shamed. I left feeling like a failure. Socially, I felt unacceptable.
No doubt, I left my marriage in fear and resistance. I didn’t surrender to the relationship out of love.
I had to first connect to me - my spiritual core to love myself. I had to tap into the universal love, abundance, intelligence, and peace that were in me all along before I could love someone else, authentically. Only in that space could I ever surrender to a difficult relationship like my marriage.
Over the last decade, through gratitude, meditation, prayer, friends, and mentors, I returned to love. It’s in that space that I can authentically develop, maintain, surrender, and, yes, leave relationships (if my true self leads me that way).
I realize now that my soul won. I left that relationship to save myself.
In 1996, these "relationship steps" most likely would have annoyed me. I wouldn’t have understood their essence.
Today, in my space of self-love, the power of those steps is amazingly alive and resonating. In fact, in a space of self love, surrendering to relationships in this way becomes a natural way of handling life.
I now view all relationships as gifts—opportunities to surrender to myself, others, my core, offering more views of forgiveness, boundary setting, self-realization, acceptance, awareness, and life.
I also see relationships as dynamic. They can’t be possessed or bounded by a time frame (and certainly to a "death do we part" perspective). I accept that each will change. I depend on my true self to guide me on their shape. I now know that it’s ok to let them be or go, and if that means leaving a marriage or changing a relationship with a parent or child to evolve into something else, that’s ok, too. As long as the changing occurs in a space of self-love.
Many years after my divorce in 2005, I reached out to my ex-husband from my space of love (not fear or resistance) to establish a relationship at a different level. I remember it as one of my most scary, courageous, vulnerable and forgiving acts. Unfortunately, he was not receptive and that relationship never evolved.
And that's ok.
It wasn’t about him.
It was about me, and the continued growth of my soul.
The relationship was one of my greatest gifts in this world. And, I love him more for that gift every day.