It took me a year and a half to say YES to a new relationship.
After being with someone for 11 years, I knew that the next time I agreed to go “all in” with someone, it would have to be with someone that I could see myself with – long-term.
I took the first year after my break-up to myself to just do me – and when I began dating, everything I thought I knew about the dating world had (shockingly) changed!
I wasn’t a 23-year-old fresh-out-of-college girl anymore; I was now a well established 30-something woman with a career and real responsibilities!
And as you can imagine, my lifestyle and standards had changed.
I’d dated some really great guys – and some… well, interesting characters. But none captured my attention fully and despite having fun and cultivating meaningful connections with a few of them, I couldn’t bring myself to commit when the conversation of being “exclusive” came up.
One of my best girlfriends did a great job at keepin’ it real with me too, which I appreciated tremendously.
“Sheree, why are you finding something wrong with all these guys…?” she would ask. And I didn’t know. All I could say was that it was a feeling… and something was missing.
I now know that while my response was absolutely true, part of me was also scared shitless of investing again… and having my heart broken. Because we all know that heartbreak sucks serious ass! Nobody wants to have their heart broken, yet… it’s part of life.
I had been on all the dating sites/apps at this point and it seemed a rotating sea of the same faces over and over again. I was optimistic, but not entirely hopeful this would be where I found my happily-ever-after.
It was in June, while I was sitting in a Mastermind that I got a message on Match.com from a guy, who although absolutely adorable physically, was entirely too young.
At the time, I had no idea what pulled me to respond (I’ll get to the reason I now believe this happened in a bit) – other than a feeling… and curiosity.
I politely declined his invitation to chat, stating he was too young and I am sure he was amazing, but I was looking for marriage and a family – I was ready to settle down.
Side note: in the online dating world, as it turns out, this upfront conversation is actually very well received – which I love!
His response: “me too!”
Now, I put myself in his shoes and at his age (mid-20’s), I was definitely NOT ready to settle down… nor were any of the guys I knew! But he was from the Midwest and hadn’t been in San Diego even a year so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Hell, what was the worst that could happen?
After some hesitation, I agreed to a phone call…
It was brief, but he seemed sweet and I agreed to a date. If nothing else, it would be something fun to do with someone new. I love adventures!
But to my surprise, we actually had a great time!
The physical chemistry was undeniable from the beginning – but as we got to know eachother, I found we had more in common than I thought when it came to the things that really mattered.
He was kind, caring, compassionate, supportive, open, fun, loved his family and friends, ambitious, smart… and yes, totally hot. (don’t lie to yourself, that shit matters – on some level, anyway)
The next 3 weeks were a whirlwind. We both allowed ourselves to be completely open and vulnerable. And I noticed my fear dissipating…
The age gap no longer bothered me and I begin to soften into the woman I had been holding back from really being seen.
When he said he wanted to be in a relationship with me, I initially said no. I still had questions and didn’t know with certainty that I wanted him to be my next boyfriend – it felt weird to be considering an actual relationship, despite wanting it deeply, after being with someone for so long previously. I had no feelings other than friendship for my ex, but I somehow felt like I was doing something wrong. There was a sense of guilt, which I believe was fear once again… (and for the record, that left almost immediately).
Another week went by and he posed the question again only this time, with conviction I said YES. No holding back. I was ready and I wanted to see where this journey would take us – together.
I trusted him quickly. I felt safe, cared for, respected, accepted. I was ready to open my heart completely to someone new. And that was scary! But also exciting.
It wasn’t long after that things changed though.
We noticed differences between us – which can be very healthy, when open, honest, loving communication is present. And it appeared those differences created separation. I wanted to dive in and work through it all as a couple because relationships are not something I take lightly. But I didn’t have the chance.
I still don’t know what happened… and maybe I never will. But a couple weeks later, things ended between us. And not well.
I am not going to share the gritty details because it involves another person and that’s not fair. But I will say that despite my attempts to express myself from a place of love, speaking calmly and trying to understand, nothing I said was received in the way I intended. And in the end, I was really hurt by his actions (and lack of) and his words.
At first, I was pissed.
I was mad at myself for trusting him and opening up and believing this could be something amazing.
I was angry at him for putting on this “front” only to show me a completely different side of himself that had the capacity to cut me so deeply with his lack of love and respect.
I kept asking the Universe WHY he’d been put in my life if THIS was to be the outcome…
And I listened…
And my questions were answered.
You see, I don’t believe people are brought into our lives without purpose. Good, bad or indifferent, each interaction we experience matters. And with this particular relationship, I believe he was placed in my life to show me that I COULD love again – that I had the capacity to open fully and FEEL completely vulnerable with another person and trust that LOVE exists.
I know I am worthy of it. But I began to question if I would be waiting my whole life to find it and would it be too late for me to have a family at that point. (as women, we do think about these things because biology is real, like it or not)
So I made a decision.
And I let go.
I released the pain – the anger – the hurt. And I forgave him.
Holding onto those emotions didn’t serve me and it didn’t allow me to step into my power in a way that made me feel good and aligned with my true desires.
I wrote him a letter – and mailed it. I did this for myself, more than for him. Because I needed him to know my intentions were, are and always will be of love and respect. I needed him to know that I saw him as the man I met in the beginning and that man was incredible. I needed him to know that I was grateful for our brief time together and thank him for creating the space for me to open myself up to love again. I needed him to know that I valued him and believed he was worthy of all that he desired. I needed him to know that I cared.
It was a freeing experience and in doing this, I committed to releasing expectations of any outcome.
(I want to be clear – I believe he is a good person with a tremendous capacity to love fully and be an incredible partner. I cannot speak for him but I can say that I saw a beautiful side to him; if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten into a relationship in the first place. I am by no means challenging his character or intentions; we never know what’s going on in someone else’s inner world. And I believe without question that he truly possesses all the good I saw (and still see) within. I KNOW in my heart that he is the man I was drawn to initially. This experience does not take away from any of that.)
I know that what we had was real while it lasted. I know how I felt and I believe 100% that he felt it too. But the truth is, not all people are supposed to stay.
Sometimes the only reason we experience anything is for the lesson. And then the Universe says, “you’re welcome” and moves you forward.
Time has no bearing on the heart.
And while I hadn’t fallen in-love, I loved him as a person – one human being to another. So saying goodbye hurt. It still hurts.
But with pain comes growth and with growth – the world opens that much more.
Another one of my best girlfriends reminded me something so important – and so powerful.
Allowing ourselves to open and let down our walls from past hurt or whatever it may be – is BRAVE. And we may have to have our hearts trampled on a few times before we find the love we seek, but it’s worth it. Because WE – YOU and ME – are worth it.
So while the idea of heartbreak isn’t exactly something I get excited about – the idea that on the other side of it is another opportunity to bring me closer to that in which I deserve and want without question. And that’s love.
Soul-penetrating, breathless, passionate, unimaginable conscious connection with the man of my dreams. And it’s possible. I know it. And it will happen. I believe that.
So to all of you questioning IF love is possible… the answer is an absolute FUCK YES!
And for those too scared to break and be vulnerable… I want to encourage you to OPEN yourself – and stay open. Because when you show up authentically, with all your crap (we’ve all got it, babe) – you will bring more alignment into all areas of your life. And that includes… LOVE.
You CAN have it all. You may have to shed a few tears in the process and experience pain, discomfort and a few WTF moments. But it’ll be worth it. I promise.