We grow up thinking that love can solve everything; that if we only love one another enough, we can save each other. But as we grow older, we learn that this is not true. We learn that there are times in life when we can only watch from shore with a hand outstretched while those we love are treading water just beyond our reach. There are times when there is nothing we can say or do to reach them. There are times when people must save themselves. There are times when we have to wait for the Universe to throw them a rope; an opportunity to reclaim their dreams; a chance to reclaim their self esteem.
I have been partnered for 29 years. The first years were volatile; dramatic and passionate; terrifying and wonderful. These were the years in which we learned how to be in a relationship; how to confront our fears of commitment; how to hold our boundaries; how to fight fairly; and how to apologize. The really difficult times have come from those things that are beyond our control. They come when life pulls the rug out from under us; when we experience a loss that is too painful to bare; when we are subjected to an injustice that shakes our faith in the Universe; when the stresses of every day life cause us to lose track of our Selves and our dreams.
For my husband, it was the loss of his daughter. She did not die, but she was lost to him. Her mother took her to live in Mexico when she was two years old, again when she was four, and then again when she was eleven. This child was ripped in and out of her father’s life, time and time again, for years at a time. The circumstances around each separation were dramatic, unfair and surreal. The last one did my husband in. It left him emotionally exhausted and deeply indebt. It precipitated a series of decisions that led him further and further from him Self; and further and further from his dreams.
During those years, there was nothing I could say or do to make things better for my husband. Things turned around for him three years ago when he was offered a new job; the chance to do work that makes good use of his empathetic nature and sharp mind; work that helps people. This work takes him to remote areas of Canada and Australia. He gets to work with people who live close to the land. He loves it and he is good at it. And I can see him coming back to him Self; remembering what he is capable of; reclaiming his dreams; and learning to trust in the Universe once more.
Now it is me who is struggling to keep my head above water. I am going through a difficult stage where it feels like nothing is working out. I am developing projects, meeting potential partners, producing communication resources, but nothing seems to be falling into place. In fact, it actually seems like everything is working against me. I am feeling beaten up by the Universe and beaten down. I am trying to hold on to my faith; believe that things will be okay; believe that there will be new challenges, new relationships, and new adventures that bring purpose, joy and pleasure back into my life. But some days, all I can see are losses, disappointments and grief. My husband offers encouragement from the shoreline but the words ring hollow. There are some battles that we must wage alone. This one is between me, my demons, and the Universe.