The American's call it a 'do-over', I like that term, it suggests second chances and the opportunity to try again. My life after divorce is just that, an opportunity to 'do-over', but there is inherently a flip side. With that second chance, comes the pressure of getting things right the next time. Is it really worth all the effort and risk, I ask myself? The easy answer would be a resounding yes, but in reality, the heart and mind aren't dissociated and they argue amongst themselves.
My heart tells me there is the fairy-tale of finding that special person with whom I can grow old, who will share my indignities and who love and respect me despite my faults, someone to fulfill my hearts yearning. Once dating again, it is relatively easy to fall hopelessly into the romantic thrall of a new partner until the logical mind starts screaming 'but what about the kids...the in-laws...the ex-spouse...the hurt...getting naked with someone new!' Fortunately these thoughts don't really become a problem until faced with the prospect of sharing myself again. The whole question of dating is a minefield of rational and irrational thoughts including, 'can I do this...do I want this...do they want a do-over, someone who has already been around the block once before?' The questions keep coming, having been recycled, I wonder whether my experiences will hold me in good stead, or else strike me down before I even hit the field...where does it end?
I think that everyone ultimately wants to love and be loved unconditionally, which is pretty much why we marry in the first place. In marriage we unconsciously invest so much of ourselves in the other person, which we don't even recognize until it is all over, and the marriage (or relationship) simply falls apart! When the walls come tumbling down and suddenly that loves becomes conditional, it is hard to remember who we really are again and rebuild our lives and shattered self esteem.
Learning to fly solo again is difficult. You have to un-learn all the habits and behaviours of 'coupledom'. Suddenly you are responsible only for you (children aside) there is no-one to check your excesses, 'woohoo, bachelor(ette) pad, ohhh, candles, lounge cushions and frills'. But you are never the same. I question my sense of self and my ability to make reasoned decisions. Ultimately a deep seated fear of failure lurks in the subconscious and I question whether I am capable of making the 'right' decisions since I got it so wrong last time and yet, I was so sure I was right then! That is the point of experience I suppose, learning what brings people together initially, isn't always what keeps them together for a lifetime. In some cases, isn't that lucky?
Whilst time doesn't heal all wounds, it does help to give perspective. I would never go back and change my mistakes and do those over, because I know how easy it is to be clever with hindsight. I am happy to allow them to stand as my testament to being silly, not stupid, or at least I hope so!
My greatest challenge has been realizing that change is an inevitable and necessary function of life, without it all things wither and die and so it is for relationships. Admittedly, I still find it a scary prospect, but one that brings with it, opportunities, rather than problems. I am finally opening up in ways I have never imagined.
Who is Laughing Now?
Regardless of the dramas and heartache along the way, learning to laugh again has been good for what ails me. I have discovered that when I accept that choices made, are never in, or of themselves, inherently right or wrong, they were simply the most appropriate at the time, I can look back and see them in perspective. As trite as it may sound, I have learned a lot from the error of my ways, and persecuting myself I have learned, is a waste of valuable time and energy. Life is far too short, besides the persecution job belongs to my ex.
Doing it Again
Getting to know myself again hasn't been quite as bad as I thought and what I have found is that I am not so bad after all. My weaknesses don't imply imperfection, they are my catalysts for change. It has taken one special person to show me that I don't have to be afraid of myself. Without me knowing it, he penetrated my defenses and reminded me I can safely be vulnerable. Slowly and carefully he manoeuvred me back into the land of loving. Ever watchful, the protector of my heart, the mind, has counseled me to be cautious but open, but it is far too late, I am learning to love again.