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Kissing Zoey

Hindsight 2020: Acceptance, Tenderness, and Emotional Resilience

What’s past is prologue.

William Shakespeare

Important Note: Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me over the last few months. Your compassion means so much to me. It’s been a tumultuous ride and I finally feel steady enough on my feet to share my voice once again. This post is a personal update from the shock and raw pain of my March blog post. I have been—and continue to be—transformed through this disorienting time and it’s leading me in the direction of greater love, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, and tenderness. Time and space are proving to the ultimate healers they have always been credited to be, and I’m slowly finding my way toward a “new and improved” state of being.

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Free at Last

The abrupt ending of my personal relationship along with the heartless execution in which it was delivered has given me ample food for thought over the last several months. In the severing of my two-decade long partnership, my relationship with the personal development collective that was once so meaningful, and of an identity bound to a dying civilization, I’m discovering a personal freedom that knows no bounds. I’m free from the limitations of expression that inevitably surfaced within the confines of a stale “life partnership”. Free from the need for external voices to point me in their “right” direction. And free from the need for structures of a way of being that bound me to who I once believed myself to be. In many ways I’m free for the first time in my life, with an immense opening to create the life I’ve always longed for. Every day that distances me from my old life is another leap forward into the creation of an entirely new way of being. When my ex-partner walked out of my life in February, I closed the door behind her forever and faced into a brand new chapter in my life. Giving birth to this new, more expansive space for self-creation is not only liberating, it’s also proving to be humbling and existentially extreme.

The Progression of Healing

There was a time not long ago when all I wanted was an explanation…a simple apology to ease the burden of pain from being so profoundly wounded by someone I once loved. But I know that an explanation or apology is not possible from someone incapable of humility. It wouldn’t change the outcome either. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t want the outcome to change anyway. I’m unquestionably happier on my own. I’ve since realized that the apology I once craved had to come from within—to myself, from myself—for not honouring what I already knew in my heart: that it was time to be alone.

For months I questioned my relationship to the ex, spinning myself into tighter and tighter circles endlessly going nowhere. When I began questioning my relationship with myself, however, I started making progress. It began with asking myself bigger questions. Important questions. Deep questions. How do I define myself without the external reference points of a familiar relationship? How do I come to know myself more intimately on my own? How do I find someplace else to stand inside of myself without the need for familiarity and the external reference points that create a sense of certainty? Expansive questions that were as exciting as they were terrifying.

Everything I once knew that I had held as real and true fell apart with the four words she uttered on that pivotal afternoon in February: “I want to decouple.” In that moment, I felt two very distinct sensory cues: “oh my god, how am I going to hold this household together and keep my animal family, the one she just abandoned, safe and secure on my own?” (and just as a global pandemic was also altering the face of the world). In that very same moment, I also felt the immense relief of, “thank god I finally have this opportunity to be alone and finally discover who I really am.” The two, almost polarizing sensations co-existed in my body at exactly the same moment. The absolute panic that what I knew and what was comfortable and familiar was falling apart, and the sheer excitement that something new was coming my way, something that I get to create entirely on my own without the burden of anyone else’s fears, judgements and limitations slowing me down ever again.

The bottom line: she did me a favour in ending our atrophied relationship. While it was terribly executed in its painful brutality, it was a favour nonetheless. I wanted to be alone. Period. I was ready.

It was absolutely and unequivocally the best thing to ever happen to me. I have never felt more autonomous, self-reliant and free. There is no longer any need for compromise in any aspect of my life anymore. Not now. Not ever. No need to walk on eggshells to “keep the peace”. No more dancing around someone else’s exhausting need for external validation and relentless pursuit of perfection. No more tiptoeing around “bad mood mornings”. No more intolerance, impatience, or judgement for not being good enough. No more comparison. No more self-righteousness.

No more betrayal.

No more lies.

Repeatedly I’m hearing from the many beautiful people in my life how much more relaxed and happy I appear. Until I was liberated, I had no idea how much underlying tension I was holding from being in relationship with someone who was so rigid in their thought process, and someone who didn’t share my ideal for spontaneity and flow. With six-months of emotional distance now separating me from that pivotal moment, I finally now know, in every cell of my being, that I complete myself. Every relationship that I now share with friends, family and the natural world feels more pure and sacred than ever before.

Accepting me as…Me!

Shortly before we parted ways, my ex scathingly accused me of wrongness for feeling with the emotional intensity that I do. “I never need to go through ‘dark nights of the soul’ for my evolution and it’s not holding me back”, she arrogantly declared. Perhaps that is so. But the beauty of individuality is our uniqueness. I happen to be a sensitive empath, a feeler to the extreme; a blessing in the intuitive clarity it affords me in moving through life, and a curse when in relationship with the emotional status quo. Her propensity toward comparison and superiority was an exhausting drain on my sensitivity. Without the capacity for empathy in one’s self, the life of an empath will always appear foreign in its intensity. The relief I feel at no longer carrying this underlying tension defies words.

Even though it was temping to feel victimized by my personal situation as global dystopia emerged, I realized that it was also a denial of the joy, appreciation, gratitude, and profound liberation I was beginning to embrace in my life. While occasional bitterness about the lying/cheating/betrayal still lingers, it has significantly softened as I accept that I’m much happier on my own. My rhythm of life is more spontaneous, effortless and relaxed without the constant compromise of co-habitation. I value my independence and quality of life above all else. I will never compromise myself again.

My tears have finally dried up and I’ve integrated this loss into my life in ways that are making me stronger, more loving, more tender, compassionate, and far more resilient.

It’s one thing to grieve the dead, but something very different to grieve someone who is still alive; someone who had become unrecognizable and wreaked havoc in the lives of so many. While the one-two punch of the pain of lying/cheating/betrayal followed by a global pandemic that has turned the world upside down has been exceptionally painful, I’m discovering a depth of soul beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

Love…Real Love

While I once tried to find love with someone else, I’ve since discovered something more potent: love for myself. Total. Complete. Absolute. No “partner” required. Not ever. Unless I so choose, that is. And if that time should ever come again (highly unlikely, I love my freedom!), gender is irrelevant. In fact, I’ve had so many loving men (and women) supporting me through this time that I cannot ever wear a label again. My heart is open to love all. Right now, however, the love that means the most to me is the love I’m discovering for myself and for the beautiful friends who have been so supportive and nourishing during this traumatic time in my life. Never have I been in such high demand socially, which is both beautiful and life-affirming, especially in this isolating reality we are now living in. I’m finally having fun in my life once again. Love—real love—is all around me and I’ve deprived myself for far too long. I’m eagerly making up for lost time.

Flipping the Mirror

Over the last few months I’ve been owning my part in the breakdown of the relationship and finally allowing myself to see where I betrayed myself by not honouring the desire to exit long ago. While I wasn’t miserable in the relationship, I was increasingly restless. Perhaps it’s less about misery, however, and more about the numbness that complacency delivers. The truth is, it became old at least a decade ago and I became complacent in the routine familiarity of comfort, patterns and co-habitation.

The temptation to stay put, no matter how bad or dull things get, is huge. After all, who wants to rock the boat, shake up what’s comfortable and willingly plunge into the chaos of change? It’s especially tough to let go if what is being given up isn’t all that bad. But as Carl Jung once said, “For better to come, good must stand aside.”

When I look back at my life six months ago, I was in a radically different place. In the early stages of shock it was easy to blame my ex for the betrayal, cheating and lies, but the truth is, I lied to myself by staying in a relationship I no longer belonged. I betrayed myself by not acting on my truth. I cheated myself out of the life I was craving to live. I tried to convince myself that I’d outgrown who I was within the relationship. But in reality, I’d long outgrown the relationship itself.

Since that time—with focused determination—I’ve been eliminating the noxious roots of betrayal from my life once and for all. It’s proving to be my ultimate teacher, leaving the deepest scar on my well-worn life. Betrayal, which once blinded me from the obvious, has given me the greatest clarity by imploring me to go deeper into myself than ever before as I come face-to-face with my own self-collusion. Through the pain of this deep healing, I’ve been making peace with my entire past.

In turning the mirror of betrayal back on myself, I see more clearly all the ways in which I betrayed myself by negating the obvious signs of lying, secrets and cheating from my ex. I ignored it all in the name of “love”, or so I thought. Truthfully, however, I ignored it all in the name of fear. Fear of being on my own. I also ignored all the signs of relational decay that showed me that I should have been the one to leave a long time ago. My own fear of uncertainty bound me to my own self-betrayal, however, so I’m healing from that as well. It’s hard work. It’s painful and it sucks. As the saying goes, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” While this doesn’t make it any easier, it’s certainly proving to be true for me.

In no longer being bound to a stale personal relationship, I now have the ability to connect with myself in deeper ways and heal the aspects of myself that I had compromised and given away throughout my entire life. The burden of someone holding me back is no more. In hindsight, I needed to be free. And as time and space continue to work their magic on my ever-expanding awareness, I can see that I was anything but free. I honestly wonder if it’s at all possible to be in a romantic relationship and ever be truly free. It’s easy to delude ourselves into believing that we can be with someone and feel free, but relationships require (often exhaustive) effort and compromise. As my friend Russel, says, “Marriage (and long-term relationships) is one night of passion and the rest is just one long compromise.” Can’t argue with that.

I’d signed up for a lifelong commitment without fully understanding how long life was, and how much living there was to do. As painful as it has been to let go of the mental constructs that I’d created around a reality that included someone else, I now stand in a place of pure strength where I will never again give myself away. In that I become my own best friend. I become more resourceful. I become more empowered. I become more resilient. I become more self-compassionate.

Any coward can run into the arms of someone else believing they are transformed in the process. There’s no growth in the comfort zone, however. It takes great courage to stand alone and face one’s self head-on, with heart, mind and eyes wide open.

No More Distractions

Without the distraction of someone else as a constant in my life, I’m finally able to discover my truest, deepest essence without anyone else imposing their beliefs and judgements on me. I’m now experiencing life directly, not filtered through a relationship anymore. There is a fullness in experiencing all of it directly now. It takes immense energy and attention to sustain and maintain a relationship. I much prefer channelling that energy into experiencing life itself: my own thoughts, experiences, discoveries, and observations. All mine. In many ways it feels like a luxury. To walk and revel in the birdsong, stop and stretch when it feels right, to be creative with my own vegan cooking in the kitchen, to discover the immensity of my veggie garden green thumb. To be spontaneous in the moment and flow with my own rhythm without anyone holding me back. The many perks of my singleness include stepping into life entirely, my own way.

Instead of remaining trapped in the victim mindset of “I was screwed”, I’ve since embraced the empowering mindset of, “I am liberated”, free to create a more spontaneous reality for myself, released from the confines of what once was. This unpleasant life circumstance is proving to be a huge gift. It has opened endless space for me to embrace everything that was once absent from my life. There are no excuses or distractions anymore.

One thing I’ve discovered repeatedly throughout my life is that the lessons learned and the wisdom gleaned from overcoming adversity are never forgotten. They become great opportunities for healing through falling apart, and through rebuilding one’s self to become better, stronger, and with greater self-awareness. I will never forget what she did to my family and I. I will however, let go. That is where my greatest strength lies.

Shift in Perspective

A breakthrough happens the moment a new choice is made in life. When I chose my own healing, even amidst the pain of betrayal, and even in the face of a dystopian reality, everything changed.

Loss creates an opening to not only see ourselves with more clarity, it allows expansion beyond perceived limitations. The reality of human existence is that “awakening” rarely occurs in a comfort zone. Where evolutionary leaps occur are in the experience of disorder and chaos, both in life and in our world. Life is constantly flowing between disorder and order, and disorder is always an invitation for change.

Through all of this, both personally and with our strange global reality, I’ve discovered a much greater sense of my strength, resilience and power. I’m also more forgiving with my confusion, fear, uncertainty, grief, and the sense of chaos that still rises within my body. I realize that there is no “getting it right”. When I do what is right for me, my life works.

As my brother-in-law recently said to me, “2020 has been a mostly miserable one for you.” In many ways he’s right because there is so much more beyond the breakup betrayal, and the betrayal from the personal development collective I once trusted that I’ve also had to navigate. Just this month, my dear, sweet dog, Zoey passed away after 15 amazing years of life. The four days prior to her departure were devoted entirely to her home hospice care. It was peaceful and without distress. Even though I’ve been through this many times before, this is the first time I’ve gone through it alone.

Zoey lived fully until the end. She chose the moment of her last breath in the comfort of her home with me right by her side. She died entirely of old age. No illnesses, ailments or diseases. A testament to a life well lived. With the exception of the last five months of her life, the bulk of her 15 years with me were also enmeshed with my ex who adopted her with such conviction, and sadly, who abandoned her with such flippant indifference. “Send me an email when she dies”, the ex said to me before she walked out of all of our lives. Who says that sort of thing? The callousness defies words. Needless to say, a lot of deep emotion has been unearthed with Zoey’s death that I wasn’t expecting. It’s proven to be more than the loss of a beautiful soul companion, it’s also another end to a huge chapter in my life. When I buried Zoey on August 6, I also buried another significant part of my personal history.

2020 is proving to be a notable year for goodbye’s, for grieving, and for letting go. It is also becoming a time for new beginnings and for rekindling old friendships, new friendships and for opening to greater love and compassion.

What I’m continually discovering this year is that to claim my absolute autonomy in the world, life, in many ways, had to abandon me. With each step forward, I continue to discover how tender, how true, and how powerful I am. I’m discovering the qualities of deathlessness and indestructibility of my true, essential nature. I’m discovering that my true nature cannot be harmed despite being lied to, betrayed, gaslit, yelled at, abandoned, broken, forsaken. I’m being shown that my light cannot be extinguished. I’m discovering the deepest truth of what I am. I’m also discovering that no experience, no matter how painful it may be, can actually harm me. My body, emotions and ego can be harmed, but my essence is indestructible. That’s my greatest personal discovery through this painful process of betrayal.

I’m now grateful that “best friend” debauched my ex. It was the kick in the ass I needed to finally get on with my life. My way.

I recently received a beautiful message from someone I deeply care about as follows, “Being single looks fantastic on you! I noticed how beautiful your skin and hair look. Your eyes are clearer, a striking turquoise blue. And you look leaner and fitter than ever before (and you were already that!). You look at least 15 years younger than your true age. You are one gorgeous woman who is shining brighter than ever before.” Like Eckart Tolle once said, “When the ego weeps for what it has lost, the spirit rejoices for what it has found.” I guess there’s truth to that. My inner light is beginning to shine more brightly, outwardly. And how can it not? I’m surrounded by love, I have a clear conscience, and I’m no longer half of a relationship. I’m finally whole. There is also nothing more freeing than a clear conscience.

While it feels like this year has painfully upturned and reshaped so many lives, it’s obvious that this is a time for massive change. Either we embrace the chaos and evolve through it, or we slowly die inside from an inability to release the past. In choosing the former route for myself, I’m now deep in the turbulent process of personal reinvention with this fresh start. While it’s often challenging to see through the unsettled dust of a painful ending, it’s true that with every ending there is a new beginning. The ending of a stale relationship is proving to be the beginning of the best time in my life. 

 

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