When I started working with my relationship coach, Sheila Paxton, she had me complete a scan of my past relationships to see what types of men I tend to date and any patterns that I may have developed. As we near the end of our ten-week session, we ironically returned to my past relationships, this time with the goal of releasing my attachment to them.
It is April, which is tax time and my son’s birthday month, both of which bring up points of conflict for me and my ex husband. Despite the fact that they have been together for over three years, I don’t really like seeing my ex with his girlfriend, and she will be coming to my house soon for Jonah’s party. While I greatly appreciate her role in my kids’ lives, the idea of him being intimately involved with another woman is still hurtful to me. Most of my divorced friends counseled me that it was best to keep my distance, but Sheila thinks that the fact that it gives me an emotional charge means that I am holding onto something in my relationship with him. She believes that I should be able to see them together and be happy for him. I can’t deny that that has always been my goal.
So to that end, she recommended a sort of clearing exercise, a ritual, if you will. She had me write a list of all of the gifts that I got from the relationship, the reasons why we can’t be together, and what I wish for him now and in the future. Then she wants me to read the list to a trusted friend and, lastly, burn it to release my attachment.
As I started into this ritual, I didn’t stop with my ex husband. I decided to perform the same exercise with several of my ex boyfriends as well. As I have stated in past weeks, I am great at remembering the positive of my relationships, the great gifts that they have given me, but I tend to gloss over or forget the negative. There was something particularly powerful in her wording of that part too. Why we can’t be together. That felt different to me than her original relationship scan which asked what led to the breakup. Why we can’t be together has a present connotation that is very different than why we split, which is only in the past.
I needed to be reminded why I can’t be with my ex husband, and frankly, a couple of my ex lovers as well. It is a gift that I can remember my exes fondly and stay friends with them, and I am also touched that they also find it important for me to be a part of their lives. However, the downside is that sometimes I can romanticize them, especially when I don’t see them on a regular basis. When I lived in Northampton and had weekly family dinners with my ex, it was very easy for me to remember why we couldn’t be together. Now the details are fuzzier, so the reminder was very helpful.
As I have been going through this process with Sheila of learning how to be more intentional about my relationships, I do realize that my optimism and positivity are at times double-edged swords because they can cause me to overlook important red flags. Recently I realized that I tend to focus so much on what I like about my partner or the man that I am dating that I become attached to that lovely image of him. Meanwhile, the other aspects that I find frustrating get subtly placed into a psychic bag, if you will, and I don’t even realize that I am carrying it until the relationship ends and I put it down. Then it becomes crystal clear that it has weighed me down like an anchor.
Sheila has encouraged me to find a relationship that fits me like a loose cloak, one that feels light and easy to wear. I am looking for that. I haven’t found it yet, but I am certain that getting clear about my desires will help me get closer to that goal.