The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book on Relationships, a book particularly suited to people who have been married multiple times.
There was a moment in my relationship with Eric when everything faded to black. You might recognize this moment or something similar, oh multiple marriage comrade of mine! Perhaps you’ve been there a few times yourself.
One regular everyday lovely Sunday morning, I went to the kitchen to get a couple of steaming mugs of coffee. I thought it would be a nice Sunday morning to lay around, read, and talk. Eric and I weren’t upset about anything and we hadn’t had a disagreement. It was just a normal Sunday as I remember it. But when I came back with the coffee, Eric was leaning against the bed pillows all slumpy and defeated looking. I rolled my inner eyes (and maybe my real eyes, too, I don’t remember) as I braced myself for the dreaded oncoming conversation. With coffee cups in hand, I felt impatient, self-critical, critical of him, and probably a whale of a whomping wad of other emotions and attitudes all wrapped up in that one (epically awful) moment.
When I asked what was going on, he said, “Are you done with me yet?”
The question shocked me. I nearly dropped the coffee. No man had ever said that to me (although I’m sure they thought it.) I was horrified. Devastated. Scared. Crap, oh crap, triple crap — no! Here I go again! Five years was my relationship longevity record, and my five years was up and the clock was ticking. In that moment, I didn’t even care if the relationship with Eric was worth saving. I really didn’t. I just didn’t want to lose the marriage game one more frigging time. At that point, I can’t say that my reasons for wanting to save the relationship were all that lofty, if the truth be told.
THE PROMISE. MY ULTIMATUM TO MYSELF.
In any case, we talked. And talked. And talked. I found myself on a mission to save the last dinky, dangling bits of relationship we had. “Please don’t go anywhere.” I said to him. “Promise me you’ll stay and let me figure this out. I will dedicate myself to unraveling my side of things if you just hang in there. Give me three months, and if nothing is changing, you can go. If nothing is changing, you SHOULD go.”
I think he agreed, but I’m not really sure, because I didn’t really care whether he agreed or not. I was full-on determined to make it work no matter what. So I went back to the drawing board of my life, and I did so because I needed to, not because of Eric. I needed to do something, because I was in a desperate place about myself and my ability to be with men. I flew into action.
A girlfriend at my place of work told me about a seminar she had done and recommended that I attend. I signed up immediately. At the completion of the introductory seminar, I sat in my seat and wept while everyone filed out of the room. My past relationships with men marched through my head. I could see my patterns. I could see why I turned a good man into a confused one. After most people left, I went up to have a chat with the seminar leader. Subsequently, I signed up for every seminar she offered. In fact, I took all of her available courses twice, just for good measure. It was an expensive undertaking, but I was on a mission.
I also bought CD’s by Eckhart Tolle and listened in the car every chance I could, which was often, because I had an outside sales job that involved driving. There was one CD in particular that caused me to nearly drive off the road. It had to do with responsibility in relationships, and how the trouble isn’t really about the other person, it’s about you. What he said twisted my brain in a really good way. Also on my bookshelf was “The Female Brain” and “The Male Brain” by Dr. Louann Brizendine. Her research was invaluable to my understanding of men and women. I also bought a book by Abraham-Hicks called “The Astonishing Power of Emotions” which came with a CD tucked in a sleeve at the back of the book. The information changed my life. It truly bowled me over in the best way possible. One day as I was driving, the ideas struck home so deeply that I had to pull over into a parking spot just off Broadway in Santa Monica, CA. As I sat in my car, with my head in my hands and my elbows on the steering wheel, I felt my entire life re-arranging itself — my past, present and future. I’ll never forget it. The information from Esther and Jerry Hicks and Abraham has been my best personal therapy for years now.
One interesting thing about my journey is that Eric didn’t take classes. I didn’t ask him to. He didn’t go to therapy. I didn’t ask him to. He didn’t read a book on relationships. I didn’t ask him to. It never occurred to me, actually, to insist that he do anything at all, which was an entirely new way of being for me. All I cared about was that I grew a better understanding of myself, and that I changed. I wanted to be happier, understand men better, and be the person I always wanted to be. It didn’t matter to me in the least if he was doing what I was doing.
I CHANGED. HE RESPONDED TO A CHANGED ME.
Until that point, I had never felt 100% responsible for what occurred in my life. When it came to the matter of personal responsibility, I was a fence-sitting, wishy-washy, “maybe so, maybe not” kind of woman. And I was truly skilled at making it appear as if I was in the right and you probably needed a little work, no matter who you were. And not being 100% responsible was easy and convenient. It gave me reason to continue my shenanigans in the manner to which I’d become accustomed.
And on top of that, one could say I didn’t know any better. And I truly didn’t. But by then, as you might imagine, the pain was mounting and it was indeed getting my attention. It was clear to me that I had had enough suffering, and needed to turn over a new leaf for my own personal relief. The experience of turning around my relationship with Eric taught me that it only takes one person to change a relationship. If you can fully grasp the impact of that one statement, you’ll have some idea of where this book is going. (Good news, bad news. Yes, I know.)
Changing things with Eric also taught me that it was possible to shift even the most stuck or awful circumstances all by myself, meaning that I could change patterns that had been mine for a long time. I learned that it was truly possible to rescue a relationship that was taking its last gasps of breath. Our situation was clearly going down the tubes. We were breaking up. But much to our delight and amazement, we traveled together to a whole new happy place. I might not have believed it to be possible unless I had done it myself.
We began to relate better. We laughed more and enjoyed each others’ company. We grew in our understanding of one another and in our faith in ourselves as individuals and as a couple. We had way more fun! Life under the same roof became more playful, lighter, and just plain easier all around. Yes, I have reason to believe there’s a silver lining to every cloud.
I’m very excited to announce a very special event that is currently in the works. If you’d like to be the first to learn more, subscribe to my list below.