By Kenneth stepp
I find myself doing deep dives into my heart recently. I believe we all do at certain stages of our singles journey. It’s a painful process because we have to look at the messes in our heart like a musty basement of a very old haunted house. In every corner there is a pile, a mess, a hurt.
Every corner is tied to a story of something that happened to us. Some we allowed, some we caused, then there are those where we were an innocent bystander and a train ran off its track and slammed into us. All 3 hurt and all 3 are very real.
I’ve been single almost 3 ½ years after spending 24 years with my wife. We had a wonderful life, raised our children to be responsible adults with great moral compasses, and tried very hard to keep our union intact. But with all the memories and all the good things we experienced together, our drift became unfixable. We failed and 2 new journeys began.
When we became exes, I was angry and hurt. Angry because we failed. Hurt because we failed. Failing is hurtful, painful, and there is a difference, and it can also leave us very confused. It did me and I believe she would tell you that it did her as well.
At first I was scared. I was now outside of the bubble of my family, I no longer had responsibility for anyone but myself. Things I wasn’t expecting were stark to me. First, my wife was my world. In her I found purpose and camaraderie that I no longer had. I had a partner in crime and now I was alone. Darkness of night and silence, took on new meaning to me.
I decided to search for a new partner in crime, maybe one that liked me a little more on a daily basis. What I found was a world I didn’t know existed. A world full of other single people search too. I remember the first dating site I signed onto. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Thousands of “opportunities” staring back from the screen at ame. Wow! Was all I could think to say.
The first girl I met blew me away. How could anyone have someone like her and let her go? Well, it was downhill from there. As I dated more, I discovered that everyone had a story, baggage, damage, and everyone had been hurt. Many, to the point of not being able to have a relationship again. Yet they continued to try. Spreading their pain to others like a virus. Before long, everyone was infected.
When I realized I had been bitten by the damage bug, I stopped. Sadly only after I damaged someone with my damage. I decided to take a year off and build a better me. What most people who know me don’t know, is that in the last 6 ½ years, I’ve taken a year off 3 times. Has it helped? I believe so.
Today, like most days, I am in triage mentally and emotionally. I’m on the table and the damage is being evaluated. The last one hurt badly, caused a real mess, and it looks pretty bad. Not because she was Superwoman, but because the damage has a cumulative effect on us. Everytime we hand someone else our heart and we have to pick it up in pieces off the floor, it creates damage where healing takes longer and self examination must occur. Not fun at all.
For me, healing has arrived just in time to hand my heart to another, to take a chance, risk it all, one more time. When does it end? After 5 times? 10? Never? I know I will heal from this hurt I have that is crushing me again. I honestly did not see this one coming. I was fine, then I wasn’t. My heart has capacity, my heart is resilient and wakes up fresh eventually. Ready to try again. Healing is just over the next hill and around the next corner.
My friends, I’m sharing my feelings with you, not to say, look at me, but to say, we’re all in this together. What happens to me happens to us all. Own it, allow the time to heal before jumping again, be ok with just you or a few close friends. Don’t rush, set standards and stick to them. Be honest with your next potential partner about everything, stay transparent, be loyal, and be faithful. Good things can’t happen any other way.