I’ve been pondering some things that a certain person said to me a few days ago. It really struck a chord with me because not only did it hurt, but it also smacked of a superior judgement that the person thought they knew what was good for me, better than I would know myself.
"I wish you had stayed single longer, you were just starting to grow as a person."
I thought about this statement for quite a while. It bothered me. I had just entered a new relationship, one that was bringing me much joy and satisfaction, but one in which I was doing some heavy duty soul searching and self discovery as well. How was I not growing?
I did just get divorced officially in January, around the same time I started seeing this new person, but I had been separated from my spouse since before I left him in June, technically single for well over a year. I was single for a while…
I had entered therapy in August and had been actively working on myself and re-discovering how to stand on my own feet without a man in my life, live independently, be responsible as the sole provider for myself and my child. I had proven to myself that I could do it on my own!
Through therapy, I realized that I could be happy by myself but the therapist also assured me that it was alright to eventually allow someone truly special and worthy of my time into my life. She helped me discover that while I am a uniquely open-minded, easy going and tolerant person, I could still set boundaries in my relationships that would keep me healthy and I should be proud of who I am and all of the wonderful qualities I have to give to someone deserving of them. She helped me identify qualities to avoid in a man and to differentiate between wanting a relationship for the sake of being loved and loving someone for the amazing qualities they possess. I had found that special person!
I read somewhere once that people in healthy relationships are statistically more healthy on average. It makes sense, endorphins, oxytocin - the pleasure hormone, smiling all day long; it’s got to take pressure off the heart muscle and reduce anxiety and stress when you’re that happy. I am so happy!
So I thought and thought about this issue and asked myself this question: Can you practice Radical Self Love and be in a relationship at the same time?
In February, I took the Radical Self Love workshop, while at the same time, meeting my eventual partner for the first time. I was really emersed in the concept of Self Love and was feeling amazing and empowered. The workshop was a 28 day exploration into the soul of Self Love. At the end of that time, I felt more aware of who I was, more aware of what I needed in my life and more capable than I had in a very long time. The work did not stop at the end of 28 days, I continued to look within and delve into the darkest depths of my personality and emotional being, even as my relationship developed. The work does not end when I enter a new relationship, there is always going to be the need to develop my authenticity, to create and recreate my personal boundary system, to stand in my own power and love who I am. There is always going to be the need to grow and to change and to modify perceptions. Those things can be done solo, but they can also be done with a partner who cares enough about your personal well-being and happiness that they want you to do the work, and they often will want to know about it and do the work with you.
So I have to look back upon that judgement, that cold, harsh criticism and say this: "No, you’re wrong. I am complete and whole and beautiful. I can love more fully than I ever have and I can be in a healthy relationship because I love myself! And because I did the work and will continue to do it, I am strong. Perhaps you should think about doing that for yourself."