“I think you need to examine if you are in love with him, or the with the idea of him.” A quote from my therapist, and I honestly admit, it was a head scratcher for me. What in the world was he talking about? Of course I was in love with HIM! How could you be in love with an idea? Knowing me and my propensity for taking the simplest thoughts, and turning them into complex mental gyrations, he added, “If you don’t understand what I mean, call me later.” Need I tell you, I had to call him? He said, “What do you love about him?” As I began to recite these things that he had shared, our conversations about what made him tick, things he liked to do, things he claimed to love and believe in, the good doctor posed this question, “How long are you going to wait to witness these things firsthand? Have you seen him with his family to know he loves them dearly?” Has he taken you on a trip, and have you experienced his love of exploration?” “Have you socialized with others and does he interact with them like you’ve heard him say? Does he do those fun things with you he talks so much about?” A light went on. It was a 9 volt night light bulb, but it was a start. Years later, looking back over the relationship (and so many others), the common interests, beliefs, and values I thought were mutual, I really had no idea if it was a fact, because I kept hanging on, waiting for them to live up to my idea of who I thought they MIGHT/COULD be. Always waiting.... for the right moments, when the Moon was full, and Jupiter would align itself with Saturn, and unicorns would then magically appear out of the forest and dance in my back yard. All the potential I saw, my perfect future, did not come to pass. They were perfectly happy.... being who they were. I was crushed to discover that my imagination led me into thinking they actually were interested in performing up to MY idea of potential. I am learning how to not break my own heart anymore because of delusions of could be’s, if only’s, and when.
I wish I had a dollar for every friendship, love relationship, job, and residence I stayed in hoping it/they would change and evolve into what I viewed as its full realm of possibility. Frankly, I believe I’ve lived just about my whole life in that manner. A dreamer, and the classic eternal optimist, I try to find the silver lining in people and situations in life. While a job just might be “right up my alley” and in an area I excel (as so many friends have reinforced from time to time in my professional journey) that does not necessarily mean the powers that be, are of the same mindset, have the funding, or want anything to change in their organization to avail themselves of MY full potential. Too often, I have hung in there far longer than is conducive to my pocketbook and serenity, watching brain cells die by the dozens, and hoping for the break when employers see how much untapped potential is just waiting to evolve.
I’ve made the decision not to do this anymore. There is something to be said for hanging tough in some situations, or recognizing, sometimes, things (growth/advancement/progress) take time. But, when there is more than one person (me) involved in the process of change, there are situations, whereby to hang in there is simply a recipe for lost years, and broken hearts. When the reality doesn't align with the vision, over and over again, it's time.
I had the opportunity to pay it forward and say the same thing to someone very dear to me recently. “Do you love her, or do you love the idea of her?” He too was grappling with the disconnect between his delusion of qualities in his mate and the actual behavior. He too was heartbroken, that he could see all this potential for a perfect future with her. If only.... she would be different. It was crushing to see him struggle so. Yet, gratifying in a selfish way, to be able to finally see so clearly in another human being, something I have struggled with most of my life. I was not alone, and I think I have finally after so many years, learned the lesson. I saw with 20/20 clarity how dysfunctional it was. I saw how dishonorable it was too. I don’t know if it’s completely true, love is blind, but it is certainly delusionaly hopeful to a fault at times. I wonder how much of our lives we spend trapped in the waiting room, rather than getting on with it... seeing potential, rather than reality.
Why do we do it? What is the motivator? Control. Fear. Laziness. Ego. God complex. Maybe on some level its safe to hide behind others inability to give us what we deserve or need. We don’t have to do anything then; except blame. Who are we to say what someone’s potential is? Why do we think we have the power to guide others onto our path of perceived authenticity. Even if we think our vision of their potential, is honest, and honorable, why do we think their progress or growth must be in our timetable? We simply make ourselves miserable when we look at the potential of something outside of ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with seeing the reality of the disconnect between what we have, and what WE need, and making the changes WE need to move forward into our joy filled, purposeful, loving life. We don’t need to get our heart broken because people, jobs, or situations don’t suit our needs. We can make changes.... sooner. Life is precious and we have enough to deal with navigating our own journey. We don't need to stay trapped inside a broken heart because life is not performing up to our expectations. We don't need to wait for other people or circumstances to change. It is more honorable to say,"This is not aligned with my vision for my life", than to burrow into resentment and heartbreak.
So, I shared my story with my beloved conflicted friend; the many heartbreaks of staying stuck waiting for the arrival of all the potential I saw. In jobs, with friends, with men. That’s the kind of heartbreak that plucks at the juiciness and wonder of life and takes God and his plan out of the equation.
Sometimes facing reality is the biggest catalyst to moving us towards our dreams come true.