Let’s take another approach, today. Let’s say you’ve found a BIG LOVE. And let’s say events out of your control (or your partner’s either) conspire to break you up. Or, in this case, cause so much retriggering and trauma that to stay is more painful than to let it go?
Big Love or Bust
In my experience, BIG LOVE does not show up that often. It’s a rare find, this love that burns away all other loves. A love that raises the level. A love that causes you to question what you knew before you met this person.
So, here it is. This BIG LOVE you’ve been asking for. And guess what? Big love also has big challenges. You wouldn’t grow if things were easy. And, ultimately, in any relationship, growth is a goal. Mutual growth is essential. Growth is what builds bigger love from the embers of an initial flame.
When I get back into the arena of relationship building, I cannot settle for anything except big love. I tried. I wanted to be casual about dating. I wanted to take it easy. And, I learned, that’s not my style. That’s not my DNA. I don’t want a casual relationship. If I’m not building a big love, I’m not interested.
Big Love May Bust Your Chops
I’ve worked hard, since my divorce, on establishing healthy and mutually beneficial boundaries. When I stay in my lane, I’m demonstrating for the relationship, what it feels like to be honored for our individual journeys. I can stay in my lane. I can focus on my own issues, my own happiness, my own struggles with moodiness. I am 100% responsible for my own life and livelihood. And in that model, I am also responsible to protect myself when things get out of control. When things become so painful, that any amount of self-care is not doing the job. At that moment, for me, getting out of the relationship was essential to my own wellbeing.
And here I am.
And the big love is still burning in my heart. My journey with this partner is not over. I cannot walk away from the last big love. The big love I envisioned was the ultimate love.
Why is there more here than others? What’s at risk, by leaving and starting over?
- When you find it (big love) you know it
- When you lose it, you feel it in every fiber of your body
- When you try to leave it behind, it haunts you
- When you listen to your heart, it still sings for this big love, this lover you have known
Where’s My Shift, My Lesson?
What if part of my lesson is to love anyway? Love in spite of things not going as planned. Love in spite of the failure around an issue that neither of us can control. Love in spite of challenges.
My lesson may be to not let go. Not move on and let go. My lesson may be to show up for this lover, in all the ways I can imagine. Even in my own pain, I can be bigger, I am being called to be bigger in this moment. Is this what I’m calling in?
Obviously, I didn’t have a lot to do with the compromising situation. And while there are issues that need to be refined and boundaries that need to be defined and agreed to, there is still something bigger for me to learn. I can have things break me up, and I can find value in the pieces. Value in myself, both alone and in a relationship. I can find value in the partnership with this woman who amazes me at every turn. I can at least give the opening in my heart a chance to teach me what I’m here to learn.
Learning to love in spite of things not going the way you want them to. Learning to lean into and show up for someone in a difficult situation, even when that difficult situation is painful for you. It’s not about me. It’s about WE. If I am truly interested in building the next relationship of my life, the next WE, then I can begin right here in the hard part. I can choose not to leave. I can choose to work it out.
What’s at Risk?
If we fail, we are reopening a painful parting that we’ve done some grieving over already. If we let this big love back in, we’re saying, “Okay, give me more fire. And if we miss again, more burn.”
What’s at risk is NOT KNOWING.
It’s a process, this thing called big love. It’s about being flexible when things change directions. When find ourselves at “the edge of the unknown” it is a hard place to be. We all want to know. We want to establish something big and stay in that safe place. But that’s not the way life works. We may find our big love and blow it up. But if we remain open to the lessons, we may find that in the blowing up, we can reconfigure and reestablish a stronger connection.
Like a broken arm that heals stronger than before it was broken, what if your big love can come back with more resilience, more compassion, more flexibility when things go dark? That’s the plan.
Let’s see how it goes…
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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More articles from The Whole Parent:
- Big Love Burns Through All Other Things (when I first wrote about big love)
- This Feels Like Letting Go: A Moody February with Storms and Sunshine
- That Long-Term Relationship You Are Seeking… It’s With Yourself
- There She Goes Again: Limitless Desire for a New Partner
- Giving Up the Ghost of Your Love
- Time, The Currency of Modern Relationships: Either You Have It To Give
My Books on Amazon:
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Sex Index: Getting Our Love Languages Right in the Bedroom
- Here Comes the Darkness: Surviving and Thriving After a Mental Illness Diagnosis
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue
- The Storm Before the Divorce: When One Parent Wants Out, That’s the End
The Big Love Series (so far – in reverse chronological order)