There’s an old song from the 1970’s called “If it don’t fit, don’t force it”. So many of us waste precious time trying to force things to work that simply don’t. It’s a lesson I learned in early adulthood. When I was 20 something, I found myself trying to make a marriage work that was doomed from the start. We were about as compatible as ice cream and ketchup… they both taste good, but not together. The only thing we had in common was that we were both in love with the idea of being in love. It was the Cosby Era. We were going to be the like the Huxtables. He was going to be a successful doctor and I was going to be a well-known/well respected news anchor. We were going to have a house full of children and live in a big home in the county. My fantasy was short lived. Just six months before his medical school graduation, he came home one Sunday morning after staying out all night and announced that he no longer wanted to be married to me. He closed the door on our three year marriage and never looked back. And, to pour salt on my opened wounds, he didn’t even send me an invitation to his medical school graduation.
I was devastated. I felt like a dirty dish rag. He wiped the floor with my heart, scrubbed the toilets with my soul, and then tossed me out when I was no longer useful. It took years of peeling back layers of pain to get to the core of the matter…. we should’ve never been a couple in the first place, let alone married.
Our relationship flowed in and out of two dysfunctional modes. We were either arguing or not speaking. On our honeymoon, we argued at Disneyland about which rides to go on. I liked rollercoasters. He didn’t. We didn’t speak for days. We managed to find misery at the happiest place on earth. The honeymoon was a precursor to what our next few years together would be like… shouts followed by silence. Intimacy followed long periods of distance. Tears followed by brief moments of joy. But, I somehow convinced myself we could make it. I convinced myself that we not only made a vow to each other… we made a vow to God and breaking that vow would be an unforgivable sin.
After he left, I punished myself far worse than God ever punished me. I went through a series of bad relationships and impulsive choices as I ran from city to city in search of myself. Then, one day I decided to forgive myself and to forgive him. I wrote him a letter telling him everything I felt. I don’t even remember whether or not I mailed it. It didn’t matter. By writing down my feelings, I was able to release them, to set them free. Then, I forgave both of us. I simply said the words, “I forgive myself… I forgive __________”, as I looked at myself in my bedroom mirror. It’s a powerful technique I’ve used many times since then.
A few months later, I met the man I’ve been married to now for over 20 years… a man with whom I’m compatible. We both love sappy movies, old school music, and medium rare rib eye steaks. We’re both politics junkies and he doesn’t mind a good rollercoaster ride. We have a house full of children and a home in the ‘burbs. All the things I dreamed of, but those dreams only materialized after I let go and let God.
Are there any places in your life where you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Are you in a job you don’t like, but it’s comfortable and it pays the bills? Are you an administrative manager who really wants to be a gospel singer? Are you in a relationship with someone who is physically or verbally abusive, but you’ve been together so long, you believe it’s too hard to let go? Do you have friends or family members you’ve outgrown? You’re trying to move up and out. They’re trying to keep you down. Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Can you muster the courage to forgive that person and yourself?
Write yourself a letter. Write down the pros and cons of being in the job you dislike or the relationship that’s dead end. Write down why you are allowing yourself to be stagnant? If you could do anything in the world you wanted to do, if there were no barriers, what would you do… who would you be? Write it all down. It might take one page… or you may find yourself filling a notebook. Then, either send it out, trash it, bury it, burn it… do what you need to do to let it go… to turn it over to a higher source. Next, look yourself in the mirror and watch your mouth move as you say words, “I forgive….” It will feel strange at first, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly doors begin to open. If I saw my ex right now I’d give him a big hug. Well, maybe not a hug, but a handshake. I would thank him for leaving me, for freeing me so that I would be open to my true calling.