Updated: May 29, 2020
I decided this year to enter the world of dating. I have been single for many years, and I finally got to a place to open myself up to this world again. A friend of mine introduced me to a wonderful man, and we quickly hit it off. He was kind, funny, intelligent, chivalrous, and I saw a great deal of potential as we got to know each other. My heart opened, and I fell in love. It was scary to reenter this world, but it felt good to give and receive love.
I struggled with introducing him to my daughters because I was scared that if this didn't work out, they would be heartbroken. I wanted to protect them from any heartache. When I decided it was time to introduce them, he quickly gained favor with my daughters. He was playful and connected with them immediately. My girls lit up when he came to the house, and I knew he was "in" when my youngest asked one night for him to spend the night in the guestroom. We became a unit. Spending time together was light, filled with fun and laughter. I fell in love deeper and deeper each day. I let my walls down and began to trust myself and him. I was excited about the possibilities that lay before us, and I was so thankful I had decided to embark on this journey.
Unfortunately, this story doesn't have a happy ending, and after hitting some bumps in the road, we decided to part ways. This break up was heart-wrenching, and I laid awake much of that night crying. In the morning, I prepared myself for my daughters to return home from their dad's house. I was fragile and had red, swollen eyes. I knew I couldn't hide my sadness, so I decided to step forward vulnerably with my girls. As they received the news, they shed many tears. We held each other and allowed ourselves to feel our feelings and grieve this loss. I sat there thinking, "This scenario is exactly what I wanted to protect them from, and here we are, smack dab in the middle of what I wanted to avoid."
As I sat there, I was faced with a choice to blame myself and wall back up or to figure out how to move forward. I decided to figure out how to move forward and realized that this was the perfect time to show my children how to nurture and care for yourself during heartache. Heartbreak is inevitable, and the lesson I could teach them was standing in front of me. So I cried. I didn't hide it this time. I openly wept in front of them, and they hugged me. We talked about taking care of and loving ourselves, especially when we are hurting. My youngest asked to take a bath. While she played in the tub, she asked questions, "Do you still love him," "Why did you break up," and "Do you think you will get back together?" I did my best to answer her questions as honestly as I could "Yes, I do," "Sometimes even when people love each other, they aren't a good match," and "I don't know if we will get back together."
My oldest asked to contact this man, and thankfully he was open to speaking with her. After they had a chance to talk, my oldest felt more settled. During this time, we have talked about not taking our sadness out on others when we are hurting. We have taken walks while enjoying the smell of the freshly fallen rain and snuggled on the couch to watch a movie. We played board games and danced around the house while we listened to music. We have let the tears come when they need to flow. We have cared for each other and ourselves, which has been beautiful. It has been a time of connecting.
As I sit and reflect, I am aware that if I am going to remain in the arena of my life, I can't worry about protecting my children from heartache and disappointment. I need to live my life fully and show my daughters what it looks like to embrace this incredible world and the people who live in it. The best gift I can give to them is to stop protecting them and instead openly model for them how to live life during the good times and bad times.
Messages to my Daughters: When you decide to live in the arena of your life, you will experience heartache. The purpose of living is not to avoid the pain, but to feel it and release it. Your heart will mend, and you will love again. The most critical piece is to care for yourself and love yourself through the ups and downs. Go forward and remember always to be kind to yourself.