Whoa. 2019 was a big one for a lot of us. It was a year filled with growth, heartache, messiness, grief, joy, celebrations, adventures and everything else in between. I think for some of us we are still picking up the pieces and figuring out how to integrate the lessons, pain, and new discoveries. I know I still am.
2019 was a big one for me too. I placed boundaries like I never have before with someone I never really had boundaries with before (or let’s just say they were pretty porous ones). I grew my business and stepped out of my comfort zone. I had difficult and challenging conversations where I was literally shaking I was so afraid to say what I needed to say. I stayed true to myself and lived out my values. I lost a loved one. I created a local community of incredible women here in southern Spain. I said “no” and shed even more of my people pleasing tendencies. I showed up even when I didn’t feel like it or wanted to. I did hard and scary things again and again.
Looking back, I’m so proud of this version of me. Even a year before I wasn’t ready for these things, but I’ve shown myself this year that I am ready now. I’m stepping into my worth more and more, and consistently making choices that reflect this. I’m doing hard and uncomfortable things, especially in relationships. It sorta makes me laugh as I coach a lot of women and help them create joyful and healthy relationships in their own lives and here I am on struggle bus trying to create my own. But I’ve also learned instead of being hard on myself about this and believing the stories that I’m not good enough, I’m accepting this calling I have and showing up to this work even though I feel like an imposter more times than I’d like to admit (whoa…vulnerable post alert!).
One thing I’ve discovered working with women these last few years is that we absolutely love talking about relationships. Not surprising though. We are wired for connection and relationships so it seems only natural that this is one of our favorite topics (we just loooove Love). For my meet-ups and workshops, I can plan something on well-being, seasonal and intentional living, or values and priorities, and lo and behold, by the end of the meeting we’ll be sharing stories about dating, love, and relationships. Honestly, it happens almost every single time.
Because of our mutual interest in relationships and love (if you’re reading this, you know it’s true ;), I want to share with you some of the lessons I learned this past year in my own life. It’s a vulnerable post, but I feel enough time has passed for me to share with you some of my learnings and how I’ve had to step into a version of myself who valued herself (while shaking in my shoes).
- Difficult conversations are necessary: Ugggg. This is extremely hard for many of us, because we have so many stories that we tell ourselves. We believe that our needs aren’t important or maybe we don’t even know what our needs are. We believe that we aren’t worthy of asking for things. What if the other person says no? Or oh my goodness, what if they say yes?! This past year, I for one had the story that I was being needy and asking for too much. That I should be okay with what was being offered to me and that “almost” would have to do. That maybe if I kept hoping hard enough and clinging onto potential (and how he was before), then maybe, just maybe, he would start putting in effort.
After a lot of waiting and hoping and waiting some more, I knew it was time to have a difficult conversation telling him EXACTLY what I was looking for in a relationship. Now this is a man I have had a history with (a loooong one too) so I remember thinking if I can do this with him, I can do this with anyone. I knew depending on how the conversation went I would probably have to draw the line in the sand and let him go. Of course, I still was hoping (there’s gotta be awards out there for this amount of hope!), but I knew that if I were going to walk my talk, I had to have a conversation I didn’t want to have.
These oh-so-scary conversations are necessary though for any kind of relationship. When we lower our walls and share vulnerably we can leave the conversation feeling more connected than before. These vulnerable conversations have the power of bringing people closer together and even if it doesn’t bring you closer, hearing the truth and knowing how the other person feels can help you decide what action to take moving forward.
- This brings me to my second lesson. Walking away from someone you love or deeply care about when you’re not on the same page. Ouch. This one hurts. It’s SO much easier to coach and write about this than to actually put it in action. But I love him. How can I walk away from someone I love? But he has soooo much potential. But the connection and chemistry are out of this world. But this type of connection doesn’t come around so easily for me. But he “almost” has everything I want in a partner. But, but, but. Sound familiar? This was me this past summer. My inner knowing was telling me it was time to walk away and I tried ignoring it for as long as I could. Until I could no longer ignore it. We have all been to that breaking point.
Fortunately, I know the signals well enough now to know when something isn’t working for me. I get anxious. Like really anxious. I get obsessive. Wondering why he isn’t calling or texting me. It only takes like 15 seconds (if that!) to send a text. I-mean, I-know-he’s-so-busy-and-he-has-a-business-and-lots-of-work-and-he-has-family-and-fri ends-and-projects-and-more-business-and-travels-and-so-much-more. So-like-he’s-busy, okay!? See what I did there? I start making excuses and justifying poor behavior. These are all my signals and I’m extremely familiar with them at this point (not my first time around the block).
Thankfully, I’ve learned how to trust my inner-knowing over the past years, even when I don’t want to hear what my intuition says. Walking away from someone you love or care for deeply is probably one of the hardest things to do. It requires ample amounts of trust, courage, and hope to step into uncertainty and the unknown. See with him it was at least familiar even if I wasn’t being offered what I needed and wanted. It’s hard to step away from this familiarity and head straight into being single FOR.EV.ER (The Sandlot anyone?). But I’ve learned we just can not settle for “almost.” We must have faith and hope that our person is out there and believe in the unseen. That’s how faith works, right? We keep taking one wobbly step forward believing and trusting what we want or need is out there. We keep our bar raised high knowing that what we deserve is someone who is going to choose us and show up for us. But for now, we can walk away and choose ourselves even if it’s the first time we’ve ever done that.
- Choose people who choose you: Well, this is working out so beautifully isn’t? This point leads me into my next lesson. Choose people who choose you. Period. Now, this can ebb and flow a bit. But overall there should be a bit of a dance where you are both putting in effort, time and energy into the relationship. That’s what makes a relationship (and not just romantic ones) a relationship.
But when we have feelings for someone or have a “crazy connection” (usually not a good sign if you’re using these words to describe your relationship) all of our logic goes out the window. We settle for poor behavior and cling onto a text message or a late night phone call, even though we know we want and deserve more than that. Sometimes we go after unavailable people though because it’s safe. We do it to protect ourselves. Or maybe it’s because we had a parent that was emotionally unavailable so that’s all we know and are familiar with. There are plenty of reasons we chase people that aren’t pursuing us back, but the first thing to do is stop this pattern by making a different choice.
Again, I know this is sooo SO hard to put into action. Breaking a well worn in pattern is like giving up a pair of your well worn in favorite pair of jeans. It’s what we know and it’s super cozy and comfortable. But if we want different results, we must make different choices. How? First, we stop choosing unavailable people. That’s it. I don’t mean to simplify it, but it really is THAT simple. And once we stop choosing people who don’t choose us in return, we start to see what it feels like when someone enters our life and actually pursues us. It can feel scary, uncomfortable, and unnatural. It may take some time to get used to, but eventually we can see that we are worthy and deserve someone who is going to choose us over and over again.
- Know your deal breakers and red flags: I actually have a list in my notes on my phone of deal breakers and red flags. I keep this nearby so that my emotions and feelings, or the connection or chemistry don’t cloud my vision. I am a romantic at heart, but I’m a romantic with both feet planted on the ground. Love is NOT unhealthy, harmful, manipulative, deceitful, dishonest, hot and cold, conditional, abusive and unsupportive. But what it is is compassionate, kind, honest, supportive, consistent, unconditional, trusting, and healthy. Love is a verb. You’ll see it in someone’s actions, behavior, and the way they treat you.
Often we think we are “in love” but many times it can be an addiction to the feelings, or having someone desire or want us, or experiencing a deep connection or chemistry. This does not mean it’s love though and often this can be confused as love. Let’s choose someone that is good for us on all levels. Someone that enhances our lives, rather than breaks it down and pokes holes in it. Someone who wants to build a healthy, supportive, and loving relationship with you and always has your back. Again, this may feel unfamiliar to you if you’ve never experienced that before, but it is possible and something you truly deserve.
- Embracing the season of being single: I receive lots of messages from society that there is something wrong with me for being single at my age. I’ve never been married and I don’t have kids. Honestly, this is not what I’ve had planned but it’s my life and I’ve learned how to accept and even embrace this life of mine. I know there’ll come a day when I’m in a relationship when I’ll miss this period of my life. The friendships I’ve cultivated and poured in plenty of time and energy into, because I have the extra time and energy right now. The time I’ve had to build a business and serve my community. How I can just make a plan and not have to check with anyone. I heard it on a podcast the other day and it was a beautiful reminder. It was something like “it’s much easier to be single and wanting to be in a relationship, than being in a relationship and wanting to be single.” Not verbatim, but something along those lines.
There will always be someone who wishes they were in your shoes and vice versa. I don’t want to wish I’m in anyone else’s pair of shoes but my own. I love being in a relationship, but I also love being single (and I think I’m pretty good at being in both). I’m trusting that my person will show up, but in the meantime I’m loving this extra time I have for friendships, adventures, creativity, and community. There are so many blessings and gifts in this season that we can miss out on. If you’re also single in your 30’s, 40’s or beyond and you feel like there’s something wrong with you, it’s BS. You are enough. You are worthy. You are so much more than your relationship status. How can you start embracing this season of your life knowing that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be?
Okay, guys. I have a feeling I’m going to hit publish on this and immediately experience a vulnerability hangover (Brene Brown term there). I know I’m forgetting some other valuable lessons I’ve learned this past year in relationships and love, but these were the first 5 that popped up so I’m trusting this is what I need to share.
And if you can relate to my post and lessons at all, I’ll be offering a relationship course some time early next year (don’t have the dates picked out yet), so stay tuned or reach out if you’d like to be placed on the waiting list to find out more information about it.
I’d love to hear from you now. What was your biggest lesson from 2019?
Whether you are single, dating, or in a long-term committed relationship I wish only but the best for you in 2020!