For the few days leading up to date night I dreamed about my wedding. I thought about where it would be, the flowers, who would be in the wedding, the food, the music, and the honeymoon. I spent a lot of time dreaming about walking down the aisle to meet my future husband. I fantasized about how I would feel finally having this dream come true. It was so close. It was so real.
I arrived at date night thinking this dream was getting closer. I greeted him and he had a fresh shave, a nice shirt, and smelled good. He gave me a huge hug and told me he loved who I was and what I was about. He hugged me again and picked me up. I was so alive. This felt wonderful. Yes, the dream was here.
The dream was so not here. I was buzzing from the three drinks I had consumed and reeling from what I just heard. “I don’t think I’m the right partner for you.” What?? What happened just now? I thought we were close to being partners forever… how was this happening? I felt my stomach tighten and my head begin to pound.
We had been at dinner a few moments earlier playing a wonderful game of asking questions. I love this game and find so much joy in asking and answering questions to go deeper. I asked a very dangerous question without much care (the 3 drinks coming into play here… it so seemed like a good idea to ask this question at the time). “If you could change something about me, what would it be?” I thought this was a great opener to getting engaged. Perhaps he would answer, where you live… or maybe that you would be my fiancée rather than my girlfriend. The answer came that changed everything, “I would have you where more girly pants.” I was stunned. My brain was desperately trying to recompute from what I was expecting. I felt a sting that went way deep. It was like a hot poker right on my heart. This is what they call in Spiritual Psychology being triggered.
Being triggered is surfacing deep hurts for the opportunity of healing them. This was a deep hurt indeed. Over the past 6 months of dating I had enjoyed many bags of chips, jars of queso, countless beers, and tons of pizza. This was outside of normal for me, but I was in love and having fun. As a result the area around my middle had begun to grow a bit. My pants and jeans felt tight and nothing seemed to look good on me anymore. I worried about my appearance and had been judging myself about the weight gain. On top of this my face had begun to breakout. Not awesome for the self-confidence in feeling attractive. I hadn’t been feeling attractive at all lately. This comment was a massive blow to this insecurity. I immediately went to thoughts of, “I’m ugly. I’m not good enough. He doesn’t find me attractive anymore”… and on and on. My reaction didn’t make any of this better.
I shut down. I withdrew from the conversation and began to ignore him. I was hurting and in self-defense I retreated. When we left the restaurant came, “I don’t think I’m the right partner for you.” This was yet a further blow to feeling super shitty about myself. I replied, “I don’t think I’m the right partner for you either.” How could I be? I wasn’t nearly pretty enough or attractive enough. AND, of course, I didn’t wear girly pants.
This led to us breaking up. I was hurt, confused, and in a world of pain. I cried and cried. I’m still crying days later. I thought I was crying about our relationship ending, and in some part I was. However, the intense pain was coming from something very different. It was coming from self-judgment.
I blamed myself for our breakup. It so felt like I broke us. I thought about all the beautiful times we shared and how magical it seemed at times… and then I berated myself for ruining it all. Not just ruining it for me, but for this amazing man as well. I hurt for letting him down, for hurting him, and for not being what I needed to be. I reeled in this pain for days.
I was sharing this pain with a dear friend and suddenly I saw it. I was blaming and hating my depression and all the things that come with it. I hated being so sensitive. I hated that it’s hard for me to regulate my emotions. I hated that I get so afraid that I withdraw and isolate. I hated the way my brain turns on me and makes me think so poorly of myself. I hated my self-loathing. Why have I struggled with all of this so much?! “I’ve had enough!” I screamed to myself. This ruins everything. I hate it all!!
In the moment I saw it I began to laugh. This was hysterical. My life’s passion is to bring compassion and understanding to mental illness. I travel all over delivering talks, workshops, and trainings to bring the message of love and understanding to mental illness. I’ve sat with countless clients helping them to accept mental illness and to see the gifts it brings. This is what I’ve given my life to and here I was judging the crap out of my own. Hilarious.
I felt my pain begin to ease. I could see that I hadn’t ruined or broken anything. Someone once told me that a black belt in karate is a white belt who never quit. I think the same thing about lasting marriages. They are partners who never quit. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with me in this relationship. We simply quit dating. We were not a great fit.
I do live with depression, but I am who I am today because of this depression. I am very sensitive; this is true as well. However, this helps me to connect to others in a way that creates deep healing. I do struggle with regulating these emotions at times, but this has helped me to get very good at saying I’m sorry, I messed up, and I will do better next time. I have gotten VERY good at learning from my mistakes and growing from them. I’m not always able to do this on the spot, but I’m getting better. I love this about myself and admire it in others.
I think a lot of us are quick to see ourselves as failures, as not good enough, and as not being who we want to be. It can be easy to go down the road of self-judging and self-blame. I’ve done it A LOT and this is very painful. I think the deep hurts we have that create so much suffering are simply misunderstandings we have about ourselves. Anywhere that we are holding a belief about ourselves that we aren’t enough or are defective in someway is a huge misunderstanding. There is NOTHING wrong with you. Your youness is what makes you you. Often the things we struggle with the most can be our greatest assets. Maybe the very thing that you dislike about yourself the most is your greatest gift.
My daily prayer is one I read from Macrina Wiederkehr, “O God, help me to believe the truth about myself—no matter how beautiful it is!” This relationship and this breakup have helped me to see and believe this much more deeply. The truth of me is wonderful and beautiful; all parts… even my not so girly pants!