Monthly Archives: June 2014

Dismantling the Disney: “Happily Ever After”

905510_594416977235214_187631891_oLike most kids growing up in the 90’s, my ideals of love and partnership were shaped by Disney movies, Cory and Topanga, and fairy tales. Typically (and traditionally), the rough and wild boy snapped into shape and fell in love with the beautiful princess as they lived happily ever after in some elaborate castle, under a rainbow, with no mortgage, love handles or life interruptions.

Happily Ever After.

Man, no wonder we’re so screwed up when our relationships end or run far past their expiration date, leaving us hurt and confused. We’re programmed to rely on the fantasy-induced idea of “forever and ever” to fix our problems. After all, we’re entitled to our “happily ever after” with our “one”, right?

Relying on the idea of “the one” and “happily ever after” [typically] isn’t reality but, it’s blissfully forgotten as we stumble our way into passionate, earth-shattering love with rose-tinted glasses on.

However, people grow and people change, even in relationships – especially in relationships.

Growth can mean lots of things – a career change, facing childhood issues or trauma, becoming spiritually enlightened, moving, or simply discovering different things that make you happy.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned: you can support these changes with your partner (this also means giving them time to grow), complementing and incorporating one another in life’s shifts while the other route, what can tear and once love-filled relationship apart, is when partner involvement is ignored or unwanted. With this latter route, someone becomes confused and feels left out which typically results in bitterness about their partner’s change or who they have “suddenly” become without any form of participation.

Please don’t get me wrong, we don’t need to be involved in every aspect during our partner’s life developments and transformations – they are their own person on their own journey, regardless of their relationship with us. However, when we fail to allow room to give support or simply communicate during these times, it can easily and unknowingly carve a pathway of mistrust and disconnection.

It can also signify our role in that relationship is done. Even that relationship you thought would be one of those “happily ever after’s”.

The night my girlfriend and I broke up, she asked me with hot tears streaming down her face, “what if you’re the one? What if I’m making a mistake and letting the one go?”. Instead of letting my ego overwhelm me with a harsh and emotion-filled comeback, these words came to the surface,

“I really don’t think there is the one. I think there are lots of one’s. You will be fine, I was here when you needed me. You’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.”

She might have been shocked by my response (and maybe a little comforted). I was shocked. I had thought she was my “one” from the moment I saw her but, over the past year our relationship was anything but picture perfect, or even alright. Individually, we had changed drastically – and without any involvement from one another.

The fairy tale misrepresentation of reality and ideals on “forever” wasn’t playing out in our favor anymore. Our own “to infinity and beyond” couldn’t fix the damage we created.

Most of us enter a relationship to give and receive love. For some of us, that love and partnership is a beautiful (and fun) catalyst to learn a great deal about ourselves.  When the relationship ends and the fantasy is over, it is our Growth and clearer understanding of ourselves that is the real result of that connection.

This is the hardest lesson a broken heart can learn. This is an ego-less understanding which takes an enlightened heart to see. It is when our hearts are crushed, trampled, and gently reconstructed that enlightenment enters us and those once rose-tinted glasses turn into high definition Ray Ban’s.

My own life journey has already been filled with people whom I loved and learned from, once making my heart swell with intensity and later broken into thousands of pieces in it’s end. Looking back, I see these relationship as a doorways which opened my eyes, heart, and also made room for the next love or adventure.

I don’t know if there is the ultimate “one” for me. And I’m okay with this. If someone else can enter my world, to make me grow even more with their love, lessons, and final exit, that would be fine with me.

However, if someone enters my life and remains by my side for the rest of my time on this earth, learning and growing, I would warmly welcome it. (What a lovely thought!)

For few people, there are relationships where love enters and remains a literal “forever”, through years of all sorts of growth – sharing life together during good and bad (and every moment in between). It’s these kinds of stories of eternal love that are amazing and also somewhat mythical. My paternal grandparents represent this “forever” – they’ve been together for 60 years – gone through ups, downs, and still remain crazy in love, even during a time when one of them is slowly dying of cancer.

I’m not against “happily ever after”, it can exist but it’s not the experience for most – no matter what fairy tales, religion, or love songs tell us.

People enter and exit our life like a beautifully orchestrated play. With these well-timed introductions and departures we are given the opportunity to grieve the loss, rebuild, and grow (and also build walls – not recommended)

Our ideals on “happily ever after” or “the one” are likely to change as we shift through life, learning and expanding from connections with others and yourself. Perhaps, some will find themselves in their own forever relationship. Either way, we’re always growing, to recognize this and learn from life’s transformations is just as beautiful as any Disney movie ending (tweeting birds and rainbow-filled sky not included).

 

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The Grant Adventure: March – June

20140612-175446-64486849.jpgChallenges: Walking on the sidewalk, being around men and freaking out at the sight of the Mega Bus.

Accomplishments: Some walking, not crying at the dog park. pooping on walks (in the grass … yay!) and learning the word “sit”.

 

“Shouldn’t have worn these shoes on tonight’s walk” I tell myself as my wet feet squish against my faux leather Target flats, warm rain continues to hit my umbrella as we walk. Tonight, Richmond’s towering grey skyline looks melancholic from my view on Franklin Street. I exclaim with pride when Grant nervously glides across the street.

As we reach the other side of the street, a man walks toward us, Grant freezes with fear (queue the Pound Puppy face), backs himself under a car as my grip on his leash tightens. The man mutters “what in the world?” as he passes us.  It must be such a sight, a overly frightened dog and it’s owner who swiftly scoops him up while juggling her purse and umbrella.

I tote Grant in my arms for about 10 steps until the strange man is clear out of sight and place him back on the wet and warm pavement.  He makes it the rest of the ½ block until we reach the front door to my apartment.

Success.

I smile and tell him “good boy” with giddy (and slightly annoying) enthusiasm.

I’ve never been patient.  I’m the type who required instant gratification (and expressed frustration when it wasn’t reached) but recently, life has tossed me a handful of hurdles that have turned a lot upside down. This includes learning patience.

With my breakup came the separation of our two dogs. This is where I took on full “custody” of Grant, our rescue beagle-dachshund mix who is scared of nearly everything – sudden movements, the bass in a man’s voice, and bridges.

Moving from the quiet suburbs with a large yard to my friend’s house for a couple of months (while I looked for a permanent place) and finally to a downtown apartment has been an adjustment … for the both of us.  The guilt I felt when I couldn’t find an apartment with a yard was overwhelming.  I thought I was ruining Grant’s life.

Mommy guilt, much?

However, in the back of my  mind, I knew we could do this.  It was going to be hard. Really hard.

There was a moment where Grant came loose out of his collar on the street (my heart nearly stopped), lots of times people laugh when I have to carry him on parts of our walks, or when he projectile peed all over me because people were at my house.

Grant has overcome a lot and in a short time for a rescue (that was likely abused prior to his adoption). He’s learned to walk (still working on this), sit, roam carefree at the dog park, even get on and off an elevator (at my work) and I couldn’t be more proud.

The love of an animal is overpowering if you’re in tune to their little (or big) soul.  The connection I feel for my robust 30 pound mutt is indescribable and makes all the sense why I felt like I knew him the moment I saw his sweet face. It’s no coincidence he was put into my life at this precise moment.

There are no coincidences.

Although I drag my feet every morning knowing I have to walk/carry him down the block to use the bathroom or brace myself for his “freak out” moments, I’m happy to do it. I am learning its not all about me in a very routine way.

My life doesn’t revolve around Grant and I’m not a crazy dog lady.  I’m just thankful for the gifts I’m given at right now, Grant is my gift.

Although toting him in my arms along the street (in those moments where he won’t walk) gives me plenty of confused looks and eye rolls, it also gives me a new found humbleness (and pretty decent biceps).

 

 

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