Keep your heart open for as long as you can,
as wide as you can, for others and especially for yourself.~Morrie Schwartz
I distinctly remember the time I first thought about love.
I was 5 years old. It was a bright, sunny day outside and my mother told me that she and Dad no longer loved each other; and that they wouldn’t be living together anymore. My little 5-year old world was rocked.
I remember trying to take it all in—to process it all as fast as a 5-year old brain could. Thoughts rushed through my mind one after the other. I would no longer be living with one of them and seeing them everyday.
In this world of change, nothing which comes stays,
and nothing which goes is lost.~Anne Sophie Swetchine
Starting at a new school on the other side of town at the already awkward age of 13, I was desperate for the kind of friendship I could lose myself in. I was completely uncomfortable in my own skin and wanted someone I could join forces with, someone that could take some of the focus off of me.
We met in the lunchroom–the worst possible place for a middle ‘schooler’ who has yet to make any friends. So you could say the friendship was sparked by a sort of quiet desperation.
Love isn’t a state of caring. It is an active noun, like struggle.
To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly
the way he or she is, right here and now.
There are certain things in life that we can’t master simply by memorizing a set of facts or figures. We must navigate our way using past experiences and current feelings, attempting to find what’s “right” when “right” is only a matter of opinion.
Relationships, especially romantic ones, are just one of these things.
Ever since I started dating at the immature age of 15, I’ve always evaluated other people’s relationships. I pay careful attention to the dynamic between two people, taking mental note of the things that other people’s partners do and don’t do for them.
All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.~Proverb
Our relationships with the people around us are among the most important aspects in our lives. That’s why we go through such an emotional roller coaster ride when our relationship is in trouble and we crave to have that healthy relationship.
The possibility of losing the one we love and the relationship we’ve invested so much time in can be utterly daunting.
Take me for example. I consider myself to be in a loving, satisfying and healthy relationship with my partner. But from my perspective, it wasn’t always like that.
Even though this story contains life lessons from a broken heart (a painful break up), its lessons are applicable to many other life situations. I highly recommend reading this, even if you are not going through a broken heart.
We are all faced with a series of great opportunities
brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.~Charles R. Swindoll
Nine months ago, as I carted my meager belongings into my parents house–a move that was supposed to be temporary–my world came crashing down. It was an apocalypse I was anything but prepared for.
After envisioning a walk down the aisle, my relationship of six years came to a screeching, and quite unexpected, halt. My heart was broken. I lost several freelance jobs I had come to count on, and my already shaky income became non-existent. Worst of all, I endured a blow to my self esteem that left me curled up on the couch unable to do anything more than sleep and sob.
The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.~Theodore Hesburgh
In the past month I found out that three marriages of close friends are in trouble.
When I heard about the first one, a husband who recently left his marriage, I cried. It seemed worse than death. With death there is love. With separation or divorce, there is often anger, despair and fear.
I found out about the next one, a marriage in trouble for the second time (that I know of), and I felt sad. They had tried to improve a trouble spot, but it seems they fell backwards again. Why aren’t they holding on for dear life? I asked myself.
By the time I heard about the third one, however, I felt resignation. Or at least I didn’t feel as shocked. I suppose when you hear about something repeatedly, it no longer surprises you.
When it comes to relationships, we all want love, security and support—all can be fulfilled by a healthy relationship. Aside from wanting the security that comes with a healthy relationship, we also want to appear to the world that our relationship is in fact a healthy one.
It’s funny that to the outside world, we try to display an image of perfection… with roses, smiles and rainbows.
But in reality, no matter how hard we try to appear perfect and got-our-stuff-together, on some level, we are also flawed humans trying to cover up that we’re not perfect.
I am one of these flawed humans. I think part of the reality of being human is that we make mistakes, we lose our patience, and that we aren’t perfect. This is the basis for all relationships— healthy or otherwise.
It took me a long time not to
judge myself through someone else's eyes.~Sally Field
Recently, my husband and I had several arguments—one after another, each fueled by the prior. This series of bickering pushed me to examine marriage: both the societal conditioning of how relationships should be and a reflection on my own journey in the love department.
I have been married for five years; but up until this past year, I often hesitated sharing my relationship in much depth, beyond the fact that we had celebrated two proms together in high school and experienced a unique journey thus far. Although I knew my husband was my life partner, lover, mentor, confidant—my one and only now and into old age—I was self-conscious about the layers beneath our outer shell.
Lessons in finding love can hurt and they can be a steep learning curve. Sometimes I wish I had more answers, sooner, especially when it came to discovering the source of true love.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I thought I knew love, but was far from it. In a quest to finding love, I would always try too hard to make the relationship work. It was an effort based on social ideals, but nothing to do with myself. I feared I couldn’t live up to someone else’s expectations. My expectations–for both of us– would fall short.
Despite trying hard to find love outside of myself, I realized at some point I had become who I thought he wanted me to be, not who I really was. I made mistakes. In making up for them, I spent so much time trying… trying to please, trying to be happy, trying to make it work… I no longer knew who the real me was.
If someone who was important to you died abruptly, would you say to yourself, “I wish I would have . . .”? If something were to happen to you suddenly, wouldn’t you want those you care about to have known how much you appreciated them?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then expressing your deep gratitude to those who have made a significant impact on your life should not be put off any longer. There are several good reasons to start expressing your appreciation to these people now.
The sooner you tell them how you feel, the longer they will be able have to take pleasure in the message. Why wait until they’re old or dying? If they do die, there’s no chance at all that they will ever fully appreciate your level of gratitude.
You could miss the opportunity of having the pleasure of giving this gift of extraordinary gratitude to someone who has made a real difference in your life.
They’ll probably be inspired to help others; in fact, the ripples may very well be felt far and wide, and all because you made these individuals aware of how important they are to you.
I recently took my own gratitude journey and reached out to 44 people who had made the most significant impact on my life. I wanted to deliver my gratitude while I still had the energy and before it was too late and the opportunity was lost. I didn’t want to wait until any of our lives were compromised by ill health or imminent death. So I figured that I should tell these people how much they mattered to me long—hopefully, very long—before that happened and I was left with regrets.