I've had it in mind to write this post for months. But then I talked myself out of it.
These truths are difficult, personal, and still in formation.
And yet, a young woman friend said this meant so much to her, and would I please share it?
So here's the story.
It started with attraction.
My life was in a state of flux, my first marriage was dissolving, and I was working for a temp agency, never sure how long each assignment would last. I was an inconsistent, confused parent of two little girls. I was scared, but embracing new things.
I took up hiking, discovering unexplored vistas.
That's where I met Blue Eyes.
I was riveted by this single dad and his concrete way of being in the world. He'd had the same career his entire life, had lived in the same house for more than a decade, poured milk over Shredded Wheat every morning at 5:25 a.m., drove the same way to work every day in his aqua blue Honda Accord. Everything about him was solid.
I fell hard.
Two and a half years later, we were married. This man who was so dependable and committed brought me the stability and schedule I craved. His strengths reinforced all that we did as a family, and helped our kids to become beautiful young adults. He was my anchor.
Thirteen years later, Blue Eyes and I started going through a Marriage Shift.
Our nest was newly empty. I felt lost.
Indeed, there's nothing like a partnership to test personal growth. Our culture gives us the idea that relationships should be an endless round of getting your needs met by an intimate partner. It isn't so. Relationships are reflections. A relationship reflects the inner you.
Ever notice that the same issues come up, over and over, with different people in your life? Even if you have the same lifelong romantic partner, your relationships with kids, friends, neighbors--they all reflect what is going on within you, they all point to where you need to grow.
And we are attracted to what we need to cultivate and create within.
And so, in this place of confusion, something happened to me.
It was an attraction.
I was on a committee with a guy friend. He started occupying my mind. It was a magnetic pull. I couldn't shake it. I tried to reason it away, pray it away, ignore it, squelch it, even entertain it. Nothing brought peace.
This guy was playful, changeable, creative, always trying new things. Not the kind of man I considered relationship material. Not one to be tied down. A minimalist. Free. Flighty.
I felt guilty, disoriented, and devastated. As I struggled with my feelings, I started finding feathers--
in parking lots
afloat in puddles
It came to me, my own heart needed to recognize the feather qualities. My attraction wasn't about the other person. It was about needing my self.
That woman who had navigated change, all those years ago. The one who faced dangers, took risks, explored. What had happened to her? I was yearning for lightness. Play. New horizons. Flight.
I'd pushed these qualities away, and now my heart was crying out, trying to get my attention. I needed to unfold wings, to change. To trust.
And so, rather than pursuing another human being, I fumblingly started pursuing my own nature. It propelled me on the Camino de Santiago.
I spread my wings for a solo journey to Spain, and though I felt nervous and clueless, I did it: I flew.
When I came home, I felt renewed appreciation and love for the husband waiting for me, my anchor.
Then again, the anchor's strength and stability are a reflection of me, too. I need both sides, I've come to understand.
And I need to recognize where they play out within my soul. The anchor and the feather both call, and can't be ignored.
I need to honor my heart and home commitments. I need to be there for my family. I need to give myself space, time, territory, and still, deep waters.
I need to live on the creative edge. I need to push myself to unknown heights. I need to soar above whatever holds me back. I need to fly to new things, risking failure and mistakes.
The greatest adventure in life is to love. That love is first kindled within our own hearts. It won't always feel comfortable, or appear to be giving us what we want - but ultimately, it fulfills every longing.