Last night I woke up again from my dreaded (recurring) nightmare.
In it, I’m breaking up with my ex, again. It’s always the same person, and this nightmare has followed me as I go through different life stages… first as a boyfriend, then breaking off an engagement, then a marriage. And last night I dreamt I was ending a marriage where we have a baby.
I wake up in a panic attack, relieved it’s just a dream. I squeeze Kyle a little tighter and hope that the ex is doing ok.
As a single girl, I always feared becoming a “Sex and the City” character – 40 years old with a great career, but no husband and kids.
I’m fully supportive of that life, but it’s not for me. I always wanted to get married and start a family.
So in my 20’s I was a serial monogamist—I couldn’t waste a minute being single if I wanted to reach my goal. I dated amazing guys who were ready to commit but… something just didn’t seem to click. I couldn’t fully be myself. Sometimes that meant I was sad, often it meant I was bored. It wasn’t them—it was me. I allowed myself to be someone I wasn’t to try to make things work.
At 28, after too many break-ups, I decided to ban myself from dating — also known as “I’m taking a year off to date God”. I needed time to figure out what was wrong with me. It took space to realize I was picking “perfect on paper” guys because they would never hurt me–which I felt gave me the upper hand. I had time to reflect on what I really wanted in a partner. I wrote a list of all the qualities I desired and realised the kind of partner I wanted to marry was not what I had been going for. I wanted someone radically adventurous and that loved discussing new ideas. I wanted someone outgoing, that could make me belly-ache laugh and thought I was funny. I wanted someone that I would enjoy their stories and would find my family as entertaining as I do. But more than anything, I wanted someone that I would (without a doubt) give everything up for; my home, career, country, and status quo.
That 12 months absoutely changed me. I learnt to live wholly without another person, to be truly by myself, and be comfortable with that.
I learnt to trust that no matter how old I got, there was a love out there for me. I decided it was ok if I had to wait 10 years for the right person, instead of wasting my heart (and theirs!) on the wrong match.
Then a week after my year off finished, I met a guy. His name was Kyle and he was very different to the guys I usually dated. He was young, creative, spontaneous, passionate, and a dreamer. Usually I dated older engineers, doctors, lawyers ready to buy engagement rings… Instead I risked my heart for a 23 year old passionate about social justice who wasn’t ready for marriage.
And I was never bored again.
In Kyle I met my best friend. Someone that loved adventure as much as I did, that would sneak wine on the ferry for our dates, and loved planning crazy unconventional trips as much as me. Someone that understood very strange and specific things I was passionate about; poverty alleviation, digital marketing, and video narratives. I still remember how exciting (and sexy!) it was to be able to debate with someone over what channels were best for donor retention! With him I could be all parts of myself but still be challenged to grow. Within a month, to think of a world without Kyle seemed so dull. I knew I could be completely happy alone, but I just couldn’t imagine wanting to be without him.
Now it’s six years later. Sometimes it’s feel like everything in our life has completely changed—except our love. We’ve moved around the world, switched jobs, and created a child. We’ve continuously chosen unconventional paths like starting a values-driven business, a year of resolutions, and travelling maternity leave. Our wedding vows included a promise to “lend you strength for your dreams” and we’ve tried so very hard to do just that.
I don’t feel I deserve a love like this. It’s an amazing love. He is the one I would give everything up for.
My sister (who just joined us here in Mexico!!) described us as having a “Big Love”.
And the more I think of my past, it makes sense to me why most marriages end in divorce. I think sometimes people get married for reasons other than “I can’t imagine a life without this person”. That could have been me… Getting married because of fear. Fear of becoming Carrie Bradshaw. Fear of getting too old to have children. Fear of being alone. Fear of not finding anyone better. Fear of leaving.
I could have easily married the wrong person if I let fear be my boss–my recurring nightmare is a reminder of that. Instead I trusted a small voice in my heart that said there’s a bigger plan for me that I just can’t see.
If you are in a relationship and something doesn’t feel right…know that it’s ok to step back and take a breath. Ask yourself the big questions. Do you know why you are in this relationship? Are you the person you want to be? (Hint: Work on yourself before pointing the finger at your partner.)
It may be comforting to have someone to cuddle but nothing is better than cuddling with no doubt.
If you are single, enjoy this time! I highly recommend making your list and make sure all the qualities you’re looking for are internal – about your future partners head and heart. Lists with wealth, abs, specific jobs, hair – those things change and don’t bring joy in the long term.
There is nothing I desire more than hearing other people’s thoughts on this topic! Have you found your big love?