I celebrated April Fool's Day last year by shoving all my worldly possessions into a moving truck.
I was moving out of the home I had known and shared with my partner for just under five years. I was sad but hopeful, thinking that a temporary move and some space would help us sort out what seemed like irreconcilable differences.
I was a fool for love. I spent ten years doing everything I could to make a relationship of any kind between us work. But no amount of begging, pleading and adjusting my needs, desires and my self influenced her ambivalence in my favor. She thought I was trying to change her but I was actually changing myself so I would be chosen. When I finally left, it felt like picking myself up from beneath the brick wall that had fallen on me many years ago. I was just too much in love with her and the idea of us being together to see it.
What I've learned from the past year is that some things aren't meant for us, no matter how much we love or want them.
Time and space has allowed me to see how much and how often I've been doing that my whole life. The need to be loved made me a fool as I've spent a lot of time chasing people, places and things that didn't love me back. Jobs, opportunities, people--you name it.
What I know about myself is that all that chasing tires me out and eventually I become frustrated. I become someone I don't like when that frustration manifests itself as negativity in some form or fashion. But I do the chasing, which means I can stop at any time. I've endured and allowed things I shouldn't have from people who haven't been very kind, but I forgive myself. It all led me to the place I am today.
With the weight of the world resting on my back, and the road on which I've travelled is as long as it is cracked. But I keep pressing forward with my feet to the ground, for a heart that is broken makes a beautiful sound.
I walk through my days like a ghost in a dream, but the field carries on and my past follows me. It's hard moving on from the things you done wrong, when they play in your head like an old fashioned song.
But when you're wearing on your sleeve, all the things you regret, you can only remember what you want to forget.
-Brandi Carlile, "The Things I Regret"
Grit is good. Tenacity, courage and vision are admirable traits I am proud and grateful to possess. They have served me well in the building of my life's work, including my former careers as a teacher, non-profit office director and in my current adventure as a wellness entrepreneur. Passion, endurance and fearlessness are the hallmarks of many an entrepreneur. You need to be a special breed of "crazy" to break away from the pack and making a living on your own terms, dodging rejection and recovering from the highs and lows of success and failure on a daily basis.
And crazy, I am. I think outside the box. I see what others don't. I have overcome tremendous adversity since I was a young child and it has constructed my resilient, unyielding spirit. I've reinvented myself so many times, it makes me truly feel like a spiritual being having a human experience.
But these strengths become a liability, as they do for others, when we use them in ways that don't serve us. When we overwork ourselves to the point of sickness, when we overexercise to the point of injury, when we overcommit to the point of lost integrity.
If we want to overcome the tremendous odds and high rates of failure to make something work, we often have to persevere at it for a long time, to the point that others might consider foolish. It might be a job, a habit, a relationship--or an idea or vision of any kind. If it offers the same yield in return for our efforts, we can consider ourselves (and it) a success. It's true that I received many gifts from the relationship I was in. The person I loved was extremely brilliant, creative and beautiful. To onlookers, we had it all. But the constant ambivalence of "I love you, I can't do this" on a daily basis outweighed the positive benefits I received from the partnership. It triggered my deepest wound that needed safety and security, especially during my transition, and when I shared this as a need I had, it seemed to fuel her lack of commitment even more.
Part of success means knowing when to stop loving something more than it loves us back. Part of loving ourselves means leaving something we love or have decided we want or need if it isn't coming through as a reality. We need to read the signs early. If something is truly meant for us, it will happen and it shouldn't cost us our health, sanity or personal integrity. If it isn't a "yes", it's a "no".
Be a fool for whatever you love, but just make sure it loves you back.
teasing love image courtesy of this site.