The One After The One

HeartDuring my separation and eventual divorce, I exclaimed I would never love again. (Though I very much hoped I would).

For a year I was, to put it bluntly, a train wreck. I went out frequently. I drank a lot. I took on various lovers. I “fell in love”, i.e. became infatuated or overly attached a few times. They progressed differently. All ending in rejection.

One I slept with, hopes soaring, only to be ghosted. Another one I never had feelings and advances returned and months later the quasi-friendship fizzled out. Yet another one, I even dated for a month. He brought me flu medicine and after he left, I texted him to make plans when I felt better. He called me right away to break it off.

I also did some rejecting of my own.

I was startlingly unknown to myself still. I set out to date and possibly sleep with guys in all different shapes, shades, and personalities. Maybe I was trying to figure out who I was by trying others on?

By May ’16, I had had enough of dating and casual sex and swore it all off indefinitely. I started a new job at this time.

Over the next couple of months, I got acquainted with the company interns. One in particular, was quiet and shy. He wore skinny jeans and cuffed his short sleeves.

In late June, at a company mixer, I found out he had recently turned 21. Shit. Though I thought he was cute, he was much too young. I gave up on pursuing him but over the remaining summer, we started to talk frequently and became friends. We often lost track of time by way of long and sometimes deeply personal conversations. He didn’t make my heart flutter but he sure warmed it.

Our eyes would linger sometimes. He wasn’t someone I usually fell for. Despite his age, he is mature and responsible.  He is stable and sweet. Engaging. He enjoyed my company and I his.

In August, full of liquid courage and at yet another company mixer, we crossed into romantic territory.

The first three months were thrilling and terrifying. I assumed he’d get bored of me after two weeks. (He thought the same of me.)

By the second or third month, we were discussing serious topics which took us both by surprise. November we moved in together. April, we were engaged.

A happy occasion which set in motion a six-month long bout of depression.

I felt angry all of the time. I went back and forth between wanting to be with Ian and wanting to end it. I did it so much that even I got sick of my indecisiveness. My co-dependency was kicking into overdrive the more he withdrew.

We started growing apart.

Mid bout, I came across an article by Dr. Henry Cloud. It all suddenly made sense.

That train wreck year of mine wasn’t me trying new things and having fun but me avoiding the healing process for my divorce. Unknowingly, I was carrying around suitcases full of guilt, shame, hurt, grief, and fear.

Before, I had triumphantly and smugly thought that I was way over my ex. But I had never let myself grieve for the whole person. I only acknowledged the parts that hurt me. My pride didn’t let me acknowledge the complete person and good qualities that, to my dismay, I missed. I contributed to our unhappiness and toxicity and I also had to assume full accountability for my part.

My crushing guilt came from feeling as if I had moved on too soon. I felt as if I didn’t deserve to be happy yet. I felt like a cliché having discarded my first husband and moving on to a younger man.

After reading the article and doing some soul searching I knew I had to let myself grieve and I had to forgive myself.

I also took time out and questioned why I was with Ian and why I wanted to marry him.

My intention was to stay single for at least a few years. But Ian and I became friends and it just progressed naturally. Turns out, he is someone I have always longed for and we complement one another well. Most importantly, I trust him. When it is “all hands on deck”, our little ship sails smoothly and beautifully.

We still had a few rough months after this. We were both very hurt and distant. Ian was cold and resentful of my indecisiveness. I felt abandoned by his withdrawal.

With time, though, we found our way back to one another. We gathered our courage and poured our hearts out, agreeing to start with a clean slate.

We haven’t looked back.

We still have disagreements and we always will but we explain ourselves now. We get to the root, discuss what one of us did or said that was not healthy, and we find ways to fix it then and there. We are committed to the long haul. I am committed to the long haul.

By letting myself grieve the end of my marriage and for the person I had known for ten years, I was healing and strengthening my heart to love again. And to love them with a healthier and more mature heart.

It’s okay that I still love my ex. Once we’ve loved, I don’t think it ever goes away. We may think we hate them but I think the hate is really only hurt and disappointment.

All of this is okay.

By acknowledging the pain from lost love and agreeing to grieve, forgive, and let go, our hearts and emotions will heal much quicker. This process will fortify us and allow us the ability to truly love, not only someone else, but ourselves as well.

 

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Enough

pexels-photo-618545.jpegI’ve done a little updating recently. I changed the name of this blog from Kristin Growing Up to simply, Kristin Cox. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still growing as a person but I’m hoping to do more with this oft neglected site. I still don’t know what my niche is but I think for now, it is about life and what I think and feel about it.

I have wrestled with many of the same issues over and over and it’s been a long (and still ongoing) process of weeding through them all. But one thing remained true throughout is a need to write.

For the majority of my life, my mindset has been that I had to do everything and be perfect at it. While reading over my old posts (some I’ve kept, some I’ve deleted), it was a running theme. Especially this one.

You’re a Grownup Baby, Now What? was written back in 2013, before intensive therapy. Since that post, I’ve had over 4 years worth of reading hundreds of self-help books and articles, navigated new relationships and jobs, and a shit ton of trial and error.

I like reading that post in particular because it reminds me of how far I’ve come. I know why I wasn’t trying or why I was falling short: I was scared to death.

I believed that I was suppose to do it all. Be it all. That I was suppose to be a master of something right out of the gate. I didn’t know it was okay to mess up and make mistakes.

My parents told me I could do anything, acting like I was the last savior of the family. The hope rested on my shoulders to carry everyone out of poverty. One can only imagine the crushing burden it had on me.

During the same time, I was constantly shamed, ridiculed, and made fun of. Anything I did was criticized, either outright or subtly.

My dad always pointed out weaknesses in my drawings, never including any strengths. My dad is also the master of backhanded compliments.

Once when I was 15, I wanted to try cooking oats for myself but keep them chunky. My mother always cooked everything to death and liked her oatmeal kind of soupy and gelatinous. She deemed my oatmeal a failure and the entire potful was thrown out in a rage.

I vacuumed wrong. My tone and volume of voice was too loud or too low. My hair wasn’t the right length. I wore too much makeup sometimes and not enough other times. I came to believe, wholeheartedly, that there was something inherently wrong with me.

When it came to writing a story, I assumed I had to write it linearly and have everything sound perfect the first time through. Getting stuck or not knowing some scenes or writing weak sentences meant I was no good and there was no hope. (I also believed everyone else in the world could mess up or not be very good at something at first, just not me.)

I didn’t know I could write a draft over and over. I didn’t know I could write shitty sentences then go back and make them not shitty. I didn’t know that I could make mistakes and go back to correct them.

I rarely read books on writing. I thought I didn’t need to. Well, SHOULDN’T need to. In the past couple of months, though, I have been reading them. And what a revelation they have been! Published authors write badly when first starting out or they write badly still but they know they can go back and fix it.

I have gained so much from reading about the fears and apprehensions they experience. I have also found that how authors approach ideas and the writing process is similar to my own. (I just thought I was doing it wrong since it was me.) It turns out, I’m human like the rest of them.

There has been this life long blockage that seems to have finally been freed. I did a lot of soul searching and asked a lot of questions and had more healing in 2017. I went into 2018 knowing that I want to write. I NEED to write. I MUST write.

And it’s okay to mess up. Or I have to rewrite a story 10 times or more. Or I can let myself write and not judge myself to death. I’ve been trying to be perfect at everything for so long, all the while not believing I was worthy enough for any of it. I’ve expected everything to be perfect upon first attempt and you know what happened? Nothing. I did nothing substantial I cared about for a long time. A lot of years spent too afraid to really try on my own.

But I know better now. I don’t have to be afraid. I can be me and that is good enough.