Navigating the Road Less Traveled
As we grow and enter the age of dating and couplehood, we learn that the road down any relationship welcomes a variety of twists and turns: some familiar, some unknown. In learning to navigate those twists and turns, we come to realize that understanding how our gps system operates becomes almost an entirely separate road all together. This is where having the right partner can make all of the difference in the world.
I come from a relatively traditional understanding about relationships. My parents divorced when I was young, and both remarried. I was raised, however, by my mom and step-dad. Their love story was what ultimately set me on my course to how I would view relationships in my future. My parents modeled healthy and loving boundaries. They were the types of people who believed that marriage came first and foremost, because when your foundation is solid, you can take on the world together. My siblings and I witnessed love that was grounded and stable, flirty and playful, supportive and respectful. It was by no means perfect, but it was strong and unshakeable.
Now, let’s fast forward a whole lotta years…
I’m currently 36 and recently divorced. It’s a sentence I never thought would be released from my lips. I also happen to be in the throes of a new relationship. It’s a path I could have in no way foreseen happening at any point throughout my life, but as it often does, the Universe had plans of its own. So here I am, sleeping in a new home, cultivating a new relationship, and living what feels like an entirely different life. And I am doing so from a very fresh perspective.
It’s likely that more people than not have experienced a much richer and more abundant dating life than I have. I met my ex-husband when I was 22 and we married when I was 25. Prior to him, I mostly casually dated, with none of those “relationships” lasting longer than a few weeks. I was the girl who literally, at the ripe young age of 16, intuited that I was going to marry the man with whom I had my first long term relationship. And so it was. 13 years together, with 10 years of those years married, my relationship with my ex (who is a wonderful man, by the way) was harmonious, full of adventures, and encouraged a wealth of understanding about myself, but as many marriages do, suffered some pretty extreme heartaches. Ones that ultimately I decided I couldn’t bounce back from.
The strange thing about having little to no time between relationships is working through all of the pain and heartbreak while simultaneously feeling excited for my future. To say it’s an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. This new phase of my life is anything but casual. I am deeply in love with a man who is here to walk with me in my darkest moments, and to fly high with me through the sweetest and most profound love that life can offer. However, my new partner shines a light on those pesky insecurities that hovered beneath the surface, and for years, feared the light of day.
As a yoga teacher and practitioner of almost 20 years, I am ever evolving and frequently unpacking the layers to remember and rediscover the truest knowings of my heart and soul. With this work, comes a natural tendency to want to pull back and retreat, for me anyway. Leaning that deeply into discomfort is a recipe for, well, more discomfort. As much I learned within the container of my marriage, so much was left unspoken for fear of causing pain: whether that pain be within my own heart, or my spouse’s. But you know how they say that you can’t leave your baggage behind? This new man, with a new face and a new heart, has somehow figured out a way to call all of those insecurities outside of me. Or perhaps it’s my own growth that calls it forth. Either way, I’ve recognized the opportunity before me as a way to learn new tools, and more consciously navigate these winding and unfamiliar roads. I remain fully aware of my instincts to run, hide, and shut down emotionally, but ultimately know that it’s a defense mechanism. In its place, I do my best to remind myself that those “coping tools” didn’t serve me or my past relationships.
The Practice of Letting Go…
In yoga, aparigraha, by one definition, means “non-hoarding”. However, another way of looking at it reminds us of the practice of “letting go”. And that’s what I’m working on, letting go of what no longer serves me. But it’s no easy task. Even as difficult as my inability to remain open and communicate within my marriage was, it became a pillar of familiarity; and as humans, we often find ourselves attached, or even addicted to, unhealthy behaviors and patterns because they are what we know. Time and time again, we continue to find ourselves in new external environments, but generally repeating the same internal battles. Instead, I’ve finally decided I am ready to break free from those self-imposed restraints, and allow myself to navigate these wild and uncharted roads before me with more trust, more vulnerability, and more love than ever. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
These new, unfamiliar patterns are in fact the roads less traveled. I am no longer running in the same gear, nor operating on the same frequency. I’ll travel this new road, not with baggage, but with the lessons I have learned, to ensure this relationship is always nurtured and does not fall into stagnant and unhealthy behavioral patterns. Every turn is new, every twist, unexpected, and every moment, magic. That, dear Love Junkies, I am making sure of.
Now, where will your road take you?