What my (mis)adventures in dating taught me about how to truly let go
Britney said it best: Oops, I did it again.
One of my new year's rituals is reading my journal from the past year to reflect on the experiences I had, what I learned, and how I grew. From the first entry, there was all the wisdom and insight that could have made last year the year I dropped my old relationship patterns once and for all. There was even my proclamation, made after a mostly miserable New Year's Eve, that I was absolutely done settling for less than what I want. In my journal was a full analysis on where the pattern came from, why I perpetuated it, and how it wasn't serving me. I totally got it.
And yet...fast-forward a few months and the old storyline re-emerged. The characters, setting, and backstory had changed, giving the illusion of something new, but I was back to making excuses for a relationship that was never going to work and staying when I should have walked away. Even with a hefty dose of rationalization, I could see what I was doing and why I shouldn't be doing it. But my heart didn't care about the cautions of my mind. Whatever was going on was karmic, chemical, and deeply emotional. To really be done with what that relationship represented I needed to work through it and heal what longed to be soothed by being in it.
Like giving up alcohol or fast food, change wasn't just an intellectual decision—it was a practice of making different choices.
This past year reaffirmed that real transformation takes time and action. It takes recreating experiences as many times as is necessary to gain clarity about what patterns are playing out, what beliefs are underneath them, and what pain keeps the old ways alive. Like trying out a new pair of hiking boots, we need opportunities to apply our new ways of thinking to see where we can make different choices and how it feels when we do. As we think, act, and choose differently, we start building new neural pathways and give ourselves an energetic blueprint for feeling better. Like mastering any craft, practice builds skill and consistency, turning what was once a struggle into a natural reflex. That is transformation.
Sowing the Seeds of Self-Love
What was different about this year's ritual was that there wasn't regret, blame, or my usual self-criticism and judgment at needing to revisit certain lessons. In what was probably my biggest breakthrough of the year, I showed myself a level of compassion that I never had before. Instead of denigrating myself, I learned to love the parts of me that just wanted to be loved. I admired my willingness to see the best in people. I started to appreciate my courage in trying again at love after divorce and my comfort in being challenged.
I gave myself permission to love the messiness of my humanity and the patience to let my journey unfold at whatever pace is in my highest good.
I also learned to see myself as I really am and honor, as opposed to resist, the hardwired parts of me. In asking myself why I would have been drawn to him, I acknowledged what he brought alive in me. Yes, there were traumas he triggered, wounds he soothed, and dynamics he played into. But he also helped me recognize and make peace with how much I crave emotional depth and intensity, how passion and sensuality are healing forces in my life, and how one of my life's discoveries is reconciling intimacy with an unrelenting need to be free. Through him, I revealed more of myself, which is the foundation of growth. With that awareness, I can learn to express my natural tendencies and preferences in healthier, more affirming ways.
From this perspective, the relationship that looked like a "mistake" was actually a tremendous gift. I kept going back, in part, because there was more learning to be had. For a pattern lifetimes in the making, I needed to take it to the bitter end to fully convince myself to change. Though it came with some hard and hurtful times, I'm glad I did. The result of giving in to the wayward pulls of my heart was that I uncovered what was eluding me all along—my own loving nature.
He helped me see, viscerally feel, and consciously embody the unconditional love that I am. As someone who had come to see herself as she was reflected in her family's eyes—selfish, unkind, and unloving—coming home to who I really am, who we all truly are, was the key to finally letting go of old pain. It brought me back to self-love and initiated me into a new phase of being aligned with my life purpose.
Choosing the New
My troubled relationships were the best I could do at the time. Not because I was unworthy of a better match but because I hadn't yet reached a point in my own evolution that would make me a match for what I truly want. And that's ok. Transformation may start in the mind but it becomes real through experience. On this journey, we are presented with constant feedback, via what shows up in our life and how we feel about it, which can be the seed of a different choice. Each moment offers the opportunity to choose the new.
As grateful as I am for that relationship, I never want to go down that path again. And if I have truly released what was keeping the pattern alive, I won't.
Part of self-love is being more protective and discerning of who I allow into my life and making choices that align with my highest aspirations and highest nature.
It is deciding that I am worthy of what I want and no longer settling for an illusion instead of the real thing. That isn't to say I will never compromise or bend, but I am clearer now on what my prerequisites are for being close to me, with genuine compatibility and reciprocity being high on that list. If that means I spend more time alone, so be it. Another part of self-love is finding happiness from within.
Though life can sometimes feel like an endless loop of repeating scenes, we are never the same person going through it. Though I found myself in some familiar unpleasant situations, I brought a fresh perspective to it, which meant I felt different about it, and responded in ways that reflected more of who I am now. As such, things that might have knocked me down and spun me out for weeks were appeased with a few deep breaths and dealt with head-on, where necessary. That is progress.
Instead of faulting ourselves for a situation in our lives, we can look for and celebrate how much easier and quicker we move through it.
Again, that is the journey of the master, the journey of becoming.
Change Comes When We Are Ready
It is true: change can happen in an instant. I've had my share of radical shifts and illuminating moments, which are amazing, but until we bring that insight into how we live our lives, we are susceptible to changing back. That is why transformation is different. Transformation is living from a new and broader perspective, which permeates all you do. That should be a great comfort. Every time you say no to what would feed your old pattern, what you would say "Hell yes!" to comes a little closer. And once you liberate yourself, there is no more going back to chains.
It is also true that transformation comes when we are ready. It can be accelerated through coaching, introspection, and new experiences, but it can't be rushed.
When we accept that we are eternal and life is a journey of self-revelation and exploration of consciousness, there is no point in pressuring yourself to move faster. With growth, there aren't shortcuts.
Nor are there detours. Everything can serve you on your path if you let it. For me to reach the point of "this stops now," I needed to feel the desire for change so deeply in my body and be so convinced I could create something better. That meant cycling through a few disappointing relationships. But so what? In addition to the gift of meeting someone new, each relationship taught me more about myself and brought me closer to what I really want.
As you enter a new year or new phase of your life, I invite you to reflect on what you really want. What are the deepest desires of your heart? Why do you want it? And gently, compassionately examine what you are still holding onto from your past that isn't a match for your desired future. What (or who) can't come with you as you grow into the next version of you? What area of your life is ripe for different choices? What is that one small, sweet step you can take tomorrow and the next day to start to transform your life?
Wishing you a bright new year of adventure, beauty, and love.
Transformation is a labor of love. If you could use additional support in uncovering your old patterns and limiting beliefs so that you can create a life you love, please get in touch.