Despite having returned in recent months to therapy, I still find running solo to be the best way to stretch my brain (and legs) while exploring my world, both inner and outer. It’s when I feel most able to release the leash I at times hold on my thoughts.
I’ve been reflecting, as one does this time of year, and I’ve been thinking specifically about the men I’ve loved over the years and how those relationships changed me and impacted my life. Without a doubt, each one has been unique. It seems that love, like snowflakes to go with a nearly-winter theme, is never quite the same twice. That’s probably what keeps us coming back for more – we often don’t immediately recognize it because it sneaks up on us just as often as it sweeps us off of our feet.
Some of the lasting reminders of a love affair are obvious (hello, children!) while others are only revealed cryptically to those beyond IRL friends. While there have been gifts and lessons and disappointments along the way, I’m starting to realize that the greatest impact on me from my romantic history hasn’t really been on me at all.
No, instead, it’s about how I’ve learned from each relationship, each love, how to be a better love-r the next time. I have an improved understanding of humans and how we each have our own unique needs, needs which aren’t always easily or clearly expressed. I’ve become more patient with another’s flaws because I can more clearly see my own. Instead of immediately thinking that someone’s behavior is directed at me, I’ve finally grasped that it just might be who they are without really having anything to do with me at all. I’ve certainly learned what I want from a relationship but, just as importantly, I’ve realized that being willing to learn what another wants, and finding happiness in being able to provide that to them, comes with its own measure of satisfaction.
Being someone’s girlfriend, partner, wife or lover has maximized my capacity to fill those roles. Understanding that love doesn’t necessarily come with a guarantee of happily ever after can be daunting, but knowing that there’s always another chance to be the best love-r you’ve ever been is its own reward. I’ll just keep trying. How about you?