I grew up being exposed to a high dose of Disney movies. I loved them! The animals that talked, the magic and fantasy, the romance…
The romance and princesses were my favorite. Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were the top 3. They all ended with “Happily Ever After,” the prince and princess smiling and waving as they set off on their lives together.
Later on in my teen years I listened endlessly to songs about falling in love and heartbreak. I experienced my own version of each and cried myself to pieces feeling the over-dramatization of it all.
Movies did it to me, too. All of it creating a longing for the happily ever after that never came.
Until… I fell in love AND had kids! This must be it. (I’d said that to myself so many times before). But if this wasn’t significant evidence, I don’t know what was. I held that relationship like it was magic. Destiny and divine intervention.
When it began to fall apart I was in denial. That denial kept me anchored to that relationship for many unhealthy years beyond what a more self-loving and compassionate version of myself would have allowed. I wanted my white picket fence and to raise my children with their dad and if that wasn’t going to happen, obviously I had failed and something had gone seriously wrong. I mean, wasn’t falling in love about doing it the “right” way? And hadn’t I been “in love”?
After that I lost my identity completely (or found it) and was really confused for a long time about what it meant to be in love. I dated, made sacrifices, was over-generous, struggled with loneliness and rejection, made unhealthy choices, and put myself way outside of my comfort zone in my effort to find love again. I realized 3 major things:
- I had to love and give to myself first.
- If I wasn’t grounded and satisfied with my life, my kids suffered.
- I was the magic! — and it was up to me to choose who was going to be lucky enough to receive it, versus trying to find the person I would magically fall in love with for my “happily ever after” to come true.
I still live by these lessons. I take time to practice self love by giving myself what I need on a regular basis. If I’m not happy, it’s up to me to figure out what I need rather than expecting someone else to make it happen.
When I wake up in the morning and feel dissatisfied, I know there is something I’m not addressing within myself. I get real with myself to inquire what’s going on. What wound from the past is up for clearing and making peace with? I learn how to console myself and ask for what I need, knowing that I may not get it, and I don’t let disappointments get the best of me.
I’ve become more adaptable and resilient than ever. Rather than distracting myself from my feelings, I feel them and then find the support I need to move through them in a safe and authentic way.
I find self-forgiveness goes a long way because I know I’m not perfect. I find people who get me and who I trust to listen and hold me in my imperfections without judgements, and I practice letting go of judgements of myself and others.
Right now my growth edge is living happily ever after, not because I’m with a wonderfully amazing and conscious man now who I will be marrying this summer, but because I trust myself to bring my best tools and tap into my best self under any and all circumstances.
Not because I’ll never get angry or temperamental, but because I’m more committed to love and compassion and putting myself first so I have better capacity to hold others compassionately.
In that way, I have fallen in love, and I will continue to, over and over again…