In the fall of 2012, I was thirty-five years old and had just ended another four-month long relationship. We can get into what’s wrong with me at a later time. But for now, just know that I had been on a six-year journey of three to four month long relationships. I dated the entire spectrum of guys, including nice ones too. But nothing felt right. The first month or so was fun and exciting, but my gut knew pretty well from the beginning that it didn’t feel right. But what was I going to do, not have any relationships or sex until I found ‘the one’? No chance!
My most recent relationship was with a great guy. He was incredibly sweet, kind, funny, creative, and incredibly bright. But after only a few enjoyable months, it came to an end. Despite the fact that we truly enjoyed each other’s company, something wasn’t right. No matter how hard we tried, we were not the right fit for each other. We were both disappointed but we also knew it was the right decision. And yet, in spite of my acceptance, something was not sitting right with me. In fact, I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with a question that was consuming my thoughts. A question I knew only one person could answer. A therapist.
A week later I found myself sitting across from Kelly, a therapist who came highly recommended. After I sat down on her couch and took off my jacket, she asked me the question most therapists (including myself) ask to begin the session.
“So, what brings you here today?”
“Well, I just ended the first relationship I’ve had after six years, and while I know we weren’t right for each other, I’m struggling.”
“Keep going,” she encouraged.
“I waited for so long, never settling, and finally found someone amazing. But it still didn’t work out.”
“Well, I’m 35 years old, and if it took me six years to find someone who only lasted a few months, how long will it take to find one who will stick?”
“What if I don’t find him at all?”
“Stop there,” she replied. “What if you don’t find him?” she threw the question back at me almost matter-of-factly. I admit I was a bit thrown off by her response because when I raised the question with my girlfriends, the response was almost the same. “Of course he’s coming! The right one is out there for you.” The problem with this response was that they could not guarantee that he was coming, nor could they entertain the possibility that he was not coming for me. The result was that I could not process the real question I had been asking, and the fear that I may be alone forever; the very reason I was sitting in front of Kelly. She realized I was stumped and took over.
“Jaime, the reality is, you have no control over whether you find him or not. What you do have control over is the kind of life you want to live. Find work that you love, that enriches your life, that challenges you” (Done, though I still have a few more projects up my sleeve).
“Find friends with whom you can build strong, intimate relationships (Incredibly lucky here). If you want children, adopt (Anyone looking to downsize?). Fill your life with creativity. You mentioned you enjoy writing and dancing (very true). Try something new that you’ve always wanted to try. Fill your life with joy, and you will find a fulfilled life. The rest is out of your hands.”
I resisted of course, trying to explain that even nourishing female relationships were not the same kind of connection as romantic ones. I may have even stomped my foot like a child mid tantrum, claiming it wasn’t fair. She didn’t argue. She only reinforced the fact that it was out of my hands, and asked if I was going to choose to live a joyful life instead of focusing on something that was out of my control.
The session ended and I left her office disgruntled. All along the way to the elevator and on the ride back down to the ground floor, I was huffing and puffing like a kid who didn’t get the toy she wanted for her birthday. Not my finest moment I admit. But something shifted as I left her building and walked into the fresh air. I surrendered. She was right. Why was I choosing to spend my energy on something that was completely out of my control? It wasn’t working. And in fact, it was causing me pain. I was causing myself pain. It was at that moment I decided to let it go.
I decided to create a joyful life, filled with satisfying work, loving friends and family, and creative hobbies. My question was then, what hobby have I always wanted to try? It came to me instantly. Singing. Mysteriously, a week later I found myself with a colleague who was talking about a musical community theatre group of which she had been a part over the last few years. I asked her what play they were starting in the fall. Les Miserables, which is my absolute, all-time favourite play. Despite my fear of singing, I filled out my application to enroll that very afternoon.
So, here’s what I can tell you. Once I surrendered, everything changed. And I mean, everything. I joined this wonderful group of people who love to sing, dance and perform. I found another family. The connections I’ve made within this group are beyond anything I could’ve imagined. So surrender, and fill your life with joy and creativity. Will there be moments of loneliness and occasional meltdowns? Sure. I like to save those for Thursday nights while watching Grey’s Anatomy. But then I get up the next morning to jog, dance in my living room to J.Lo or JT, sing my heart out in the shower, engage in work I love, and then join my friends for a few harmonies.
But if I am to tell you this story, I should be honest and tell you that it didn’t end there. As I found my happy place on stage with my newfound family, whom do you think I met? My soulmate. Yep. I cannot tell I lie. I was completely blown away, but there he was. Now, am I saying that if you ‘surrender’, you will find him or her? Absolutely NOT. Who knows why it happened when it did. Maybe it was because I wasn’t feeling so stressed about it and was filling my life with joy? Maybe it was just dumb luck. Either way, this was my story. I chose surrender, and THAT, truly CHANGED EVERYTHING!