If you’re new here, my Monday musing is some loving guidance I send your way weekly to tide you over or top you up or get you through. I believe that shit happens but we can fix it and feel so much better when we do. Life doesn’t have to feel this hard. LOVE doesn’t have to feel this hard.
Second chances are born every minute of every day; the chance to do something differently or better, to see it anew, to heal, repair, restore and bring in love. All kinds of love, but yes, also and especially romantic love. Like little daisies reaching for the sun, we want to grow, to learn from past mistakes. We want to feel warmth and passion, or be seen and heard and understood. We want to feel healthy, respected, compatible –as in Pina coladas, champagne, getting caught in the rain, not really being into health food. I’m really vibing with that song lately. At the end of the day we want to suffer less, rejoice more in our relationships and our lives.
Most of our dating cards are filled with scores from our past relationships. We look to past relationships for reference as to how to do it better this time. After all, second chances are born from the wreckage of first chances gone awry. We grew apart, we never should have been married, we weren’t compatible, she cheated, he cheated, they were a narcissist, her family got in the way, he cared more about his career, we were never in love, she was controlling, he was controlling, we fought, he was crazy, she was crazy, the children were crazy, the therapist was crazy and by the end, even the dog was crazy.
Typically there is pain when things fall apart. And we don’t always have a very good place or process to answer that pain. We let time heal us, which makes our healing relative at least if you ask Einstein. But seriously, even when our pain is less visceral because time has passed and we are ready to try again there are usually some sharp bits that have been embedded in our tender places that may not hurt if you stay really still, but there’s no staying still when you’re getting out the old track shoes or pom poms and trying out for the team one more time. Go team!
Which brings me to the problem with the whole second chances business at a conceptual level, which is the same problem that underlies the whole New Year’s resolution craze –the reason we feel so tempted to make a do-over every December 31st at midnight o’clock. We blame the year, 2020 that beast! We blame the past. We blame all of the circumstances that befell us; the wrecking balls, canon balls, bowling balls, the out of left field balls, and we drop a bigger ball from Time Square (think about it) that says I am going to out drop you. But underneath all of this is a message that says it’s on me. I just didn’t have enough resolve, or I can find more resolve and that is the answer to all of the struggle in my life, just pile on the resolve. And yet what do we typically create resolutions for? To answer all of those areas that are really hard for us, confusing, seemingly unsolvable. And what message does that send to ourselves? This one: I haven’t tried hard enough. Ugh, friends ugh. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Those areas in which we struggle are the ones that require tenderness, patience, care, a deeper emotional understanding, some support, help, encouragement, coaching along. Those are the places that hold the sticky shards of the past.
We don’t take the chances in every moment because we are afraid to eff it up. We are afraid of how much resolve it’s gonna take not to eff it up, and we are flattened by this pressure before we get out of the gate or we wildly overcompensate. We need to change the rules of this game.
Which brings me back to your dating card (well and friends it applies not just to dating but to all of those tendencies toward perfection when we try to try again). The overly determined dating card looks like this: She’s got to be beautiful but not so beautiful that men will always be hitting on her, but also cute and adorable and girl next door. She has to be Snow White loved by the woodland creatures, not capable of hurting a fly but life of the party by night, classy sparkling and clever. She can bring home the bacon fry it up in the pan and never let you forget you’re a man (worst body spray commercial of all time) but also she just happens to like the same sports as you and doesn’t like to talk about feelings.
He oozes so much charisma you almost forget that he is salt of the earth and humble as a hobbit. He can wipe a snotty nose while changing a diaper and barbequing a tofu dog. He will pierce you with his gaze over a bottle of Amarone and undress you with his knowledge of Russian literature while taking over another Fortune 500 in his sleep. If you run and leap he will appear like Ryan Gosling and catch you with his actual biceps and six pack, the abs not the beer.
We don’t really want to marry a mythical creature, because even a mythical creature is not going to save us from our perceived failures and our hurts and our self blame. Even Super Gal, Guy, or GF is not going to stamp our passport to Worthy Ville, or make up for those years we blame ourselves for wasting with They Who Will Not Be Named. Also, mythical creatures are less mythical in 3D. They actually want and need and feel things outside of our imaginations, which is really confusing and inconvenient.
I want your next relationship to be your last one and your best one, which isn’t going to happen if dating is a test you must pass. If every potentially romantic encounter or match is either you better not eff it up or here is your chance for absolution no relationship will have room to breathe and neither will you. Every behaviour or characteristic that doesn’t wow you will frighten you, and the card will get so crowded with rules and regulations that dating will feel like a applying for medical insurance.
It is important to gain some insight into who you are compatible with, and what kind of relationship you want and why. Spend some time understanding what excites you. Cultivate and nurture along the ‘you’ who feels alive and magical and passionate because that is the you we want making the relationship decisions, and that is the you whom we want the relationship to kindle.
But that mini-golf game where you slipped on the Flintstone bridge and the ball bounced off your forehead before landing in the that little kid’s ice cream and making him cry, well it’s time to forgive yourself for that mishap. Your relationship was never supposed to be a statement about you, a test you could pass or fail. It was supposed to be a sacred place of sharing and intimacy and growing friendship and passion and love. Nothing that happened means you don’t deserve that now, and nothing the world has to say about it means anything until the world learns to mind its manners and practice some compassion already.
YOU CAN’T FAIL LOVE.
Decide today that you are worthy of love so that you can quit trying to prove to the world that you are. The good old world has it upside down.
I encourage you to go ahead and take your tenth second chance.
Do it for love. For your Love-loving self who has so much to celebrate and share and give. Atonement is so 2020.
After all, it’s hard to drop a ball when it’s holding you up.
P.S. 2021 I am bringing on the love. I’ll be featured in a podcast all about better loving, from healing your broken heart to intentional dating to creating a relationship that thrives, and I’ll be launching a sister site for all of you relationship and love enthusiasts, with all kinds of insights and offerings. Stay tuned!
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.