This past Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and my husband and I had plans. We got dressed up to go out on a date to a romantic classic movie and dinner afterwards. I even wore a lace form-fitting dress. And if you really knew me, you would know that “form fitting” and “dress” are not words I use often, let alone anything that I wear often. But to tell you the truth, I felt beautiful that night and I was so happy to be out with my Valentine.
While sitting in the theater waiting for Casablanca to begin, I snapped a quick selfie of my husband and posted it on Facebook and Instagram. The caption read, “Watching a classic love story with my classic love.”
But the minute I hit publish, I felt a sense of regret. Not for sharing my happiness of the moment but rather for how others may view it.
You see, this photo was an example of sharing the “shiny parts of life” with none of the work that went into the moment. I would never want someone to look at my life and feel sense of lack in theirs. I would never want a to wife to look at a home cooked meal and feel comparison for my husband taking me out to dinner. And I would never want someone who is lonely to think that having someone in their life would fix all of their problems.
The Story Behind the Photo
Here is the truth: less than three years ago, with a tear-stained, makeup-smudged face, I was yelling, “Does this mean we are saying it’s over??” And neither of us could really answer one way or the other. Here I was, neck deep in a failing marriage. Again.
There was sadness around my relationship with my husband falling apart but want to know what really hit hard? I was the common denominator of yet another failed marriage.
I’m not saying that I shouldered the full responsibility but I realized that I had the opportunity to look at the role that I was playing in this repeat process. I no longer wanted to point fingers in my husband’s direction in blame. And I could no longer look to him to make me happy if I wasn’t willing to create my own happiness.
It was time I look at my own patterns. It was time to recognize messages from my past that I had adopted as my own. It was also time I started filling my own cup; to give myself what I needed and ask from my husband what I wanted. To let go of fairy tale dreams and become the woman I was pretending to be. It was time to own my shit.
Getting Real with Our Mess
We all have places in our lives where we are unhappy. Maybe it’s our marriages, our health, our finances, our jobs, our unfulfilled feelings. But what we do in those moments once we recognize these situations is a choice.
If you listened to last week’s audio, I had a chat with Mark Jaffe about choosing “happyness” (yes, it’s spelled with a “y” for a reason). What I realized after our conversation is that living a life well lived means a constant renewal of choice.
Choosing to be curious about emotions that you can’t identify and look underneath to see what the situation is really about. Choosing to step into the messy parts of your life instead of dulling the pain with Netflix and wine. Choosing to fill your own cup so that you can pour out to others.
You don’t need the drastic wake up calls of impending divorce or worse, deathbed realizations. You just need to be intentional in participating in your own life, full on.
The Current Situation
I’m not going to say that I’m perfect and have it all figured out. But I do know that my husband and I make time for one another now. I also am better at asking and taking the lead in my feelings and want I need. It’s a process of peeling back layers of 50+ years of experience and conditioning. And what I’ve found in my marriage is that my honesty and growth has encouraged the same with my husband.
Most of all, I have learned that the compassion and love that I need to give to my husband is also important to give to myself.
Now over to you
I’d love to hear where the unhappy places in your life that need your attention. What are you willing to choose about dealing with them? Leave a comment below or send me a message on the contact form for a private conversation.