Yeah, that was my ring full of big and sparkly diamonds. It was a gold ring that had a pretty “S” and hearts on the side with little diamonds set inside of the band. There were also words inscribed between the tiny diamonds. Mostly the ring was full of promise, hopes and dreams like other wedding bands and engagement rings.
It all started when they saw me and then I was caught up in the whirl of their charm. We went on the first date, kept dating, fell in love, got married and then what happened…twice?
“Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~
Usually I don’t write about my marriages, ex husbands or boyfriends because re-suffering my regrets or bashing them wouldn’t really serve any purpose. It takes two to tango, so I’m not going through the he did this, so I did that and then try to justify any of it. I look back with the attitude that we both made mistakes one way or the other. We failed each other and we failed our relationship. Don’t you think that is a healthier attitude?
I can’t go back and change anything I’ve done in my past and so I have to forgive myself and them for the parts we played in the demise of our relationships and/or marriages. This attitude of mine did not come easily and is a direct result of the PTSD trauma and the intensive therapy/counseling that followed.
It was rather a drag that I had to heal my soul of the pain caused by my marriages and subsequent divorces in order for my PTSD to go away. I mean, really, who wants to go back and mull them over again and again in their mind. Remembering the bad times always made me remember the good times which then brought pain.
The process proved to be salt in the wound over and over again as my heart refused to let my intellect teach it a few things. One word was not only tattooed all over my soul, but it sang the same tune and spoke the same words continuously.
It was like a horrible broken record!
I have this big issue with failing. Accomplishment, determination and persistence are engrained into every one of the cells in my body. Being satisfied at mediocre or average isn’t good enough for me. If I’m going to do something, I definitely don’t want it to be mediocre. Going beyond and excelling is the only way that I am happy with my accomplishments. Sometimes I know that I go overboard and expect perfection from myself. That makes me my own worst critic and I rarely give myself a break. I’m not saying this is good, but it is the truth.
“I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” ~ Abraham Lincoln ~
Because of this attitude of excellence, I often naively believe that other people live with the same self-expectations. That sets me up for disappointment constantly. I don’t expect other people to be perfect, but I forget that some people are just satisfied and don’t want to learn more or do more. Differences in personalities don’t make one right or the other wrong.
I remember when Alyssa started school, I didn’t feel the urge to demand straight A’s from her at all. Instead I told her, “Do your best and we will be so proud of you.”
The key thought to that whole sentence is that I wanted my daughter to do HER BEST. If she put forth the effort to do HER BEST, then I couldn’t expect more. It is the same with everyone else and especially with those we love. Expecting them to give their best is the only standard we can really hold them to and is only fair.
In a marriage, letting down the walls of protection that guard our heart is one of the hardest things we need to do. Without that vulnerability, the “oneness” and “partnership” isn’t going to bloom. When the couple is one, they are one in marital purpose. Being vulnerable is NOT easy. Opening up the heart is a scary activity because we fear that some kind of rejection could follow. If we find the courage to share all our deepest emotions, then we get rejected, it cuts right to the soul and the essence of our being. Hurt? Oh my goodness! THAT is why we have walls for protection because rejection at that level is devastating!
When I divorced the first time, moved across the country, started a job in the hotel industry and became a single mother, I still felt youthful. By the time I experienced the ending of the second marriage, I felt worn out, used and old. Ashley Monroe totally described me in her song called “Used” found on the album “Satisfied”.
Like an old piano played for generations
Slowly fading out of tune
Like the soles on the bottom of my favorite pair
Of dancing shoes
I know I’m not some bright and shiny
Car that’s sparkling new
Right off the salesroom floor
Yeah I’ve got some dents and bruises
I’ve been dropped and there’s a scar
Where, my heart was broke before
No one emerges unscathed from a relationship that ends. When any relationship is over, the goal is to not only heal from the pain, but also to learn from the mistakes that were made during the relationship. Without taking the time to learn where we went wrong, the likelihood of repeating the same mistakes again and again is high. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to repeat mistakes over and over. My heart can’t take that kind of pain too many times.
7 Lessons Learned
Marriage is a huge commitment. Regardless of popular belief, I do believe that if two people are unselfish and take the time to grow together through experiences, they can have a happy marriage that will last a lifetime. Since my marriages didn’t last a lifetime, what did I learn that will be useful to me and possibly you?
- I subconsciously chose men that had a couple traits like my father because I was trying to heal the father-daughter relationship. Sounds kooky, but it makes total sense when you list a comparison of all the men in my life. Actually, it is a bit spooky that my subconscious brain ruled me so strongly. So I healed the relationship with my dad and that should help me not to repeat this subconscious attraction to the negative traits.
- A marriage is give and take for BOTH people.
- Communication, honesty and trust create a solid foundation. You can regain trust only if you are willing to communicate and remain honest at all times. Without honest communication and trust, a marriage will not endure. Actually, any loving relationship can’t last without these elements.
- A couple that works and plays together stays together. As we age, we change. That is just a fact of life. If a couple makes a point to learn and grow through the experiences together, their relationship will become more solid and love will be continually strengthened.
- Respect and patience for each other will keep the love in a safe and nurturing environment. Differences make the couple well rounded and interesting.
- Two wrongs don’t make a right. I’ve heard that saying so many times, but it continues to ring true. Keeping score in a relationship is detrimental in so many ways. It is inevitable that there will be disagreements and hurt feelings, but retaliation doesn’t strengthen the relationship. Getting back or doing vengeful things will only tear the relationship apart.
- Forgiveness is vital, but part of being truly sorry means that the hurtful act isn’t repeated. Doing something that you KNOW will hurt the other person is not only wrong, but also selfish, disrespectful, arrogant, and cruel. Of course, it also means that you aren’t really sorry.
Where Does That Leave Me Now?
I have to admit that I’m a bit bitter that when I go to bed at night and there isn’t a loving husband to cuddle. This isn’t the life I envisioned when I was a sixteen year old, innocent and a bright-eyed young woman. I would use the word “unfair” in this explanation, but life is NOT fair and I know that to be a fact. No one is ever promised a “fair” life.
The fact that both marriages ended AND because I’m no longer a spring chickie, my self-esteem is not high on the scale. I don’t believe I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread, but do know that I’m not the already chewed bubble gum found on the bottom of a shoe either. One of the wonderful things about having a great relationship is that THEY believe you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not only do they treat you that way, but they make it easier for you to believe it too.
I have, however, made progress.
Believing in your own self-worth is important in being a healthy person and mate. Now that I’ve worked hard and eradicated PTSD from my life, I no longer believe I’m a wimp. This has been my lifelong belief to the point of feeling ashamed about it.
Not anymore. Nope. I’m not a wimp.
I’m a very strong woman who is better than I’ve ever been.
It is too late to be successful in my past two marriages and relationships, but that’s okay. I lived and learned. Hopefully I learned enough that I will make better choices in the future and not the same mistakes.
Ahhhh, yes. The future.
But in the end
I’ll be worth a whole lot more
and I can give like I couldn’t give before,
In the end I can love a whole lot more