Check out this great piece by my guest blogger, Deirdre McGill.
Every January 17th, I think about my live-in boyfriend from my college days. We were 19 and 22 when we hooked up and lived together for 11 years.
We moved in together after my father almost choked me to death. I made the mistake of standing up to my dad and in a fit of alcoholic rage; his reaction was not one of tolerance or understanding. Good thing that my Grandmother was there to pry his hands from around my neck or I would not be writing this today.
Disregarding the family advice of “why buy the cow when the milk is free,” I kept living with my friend without the sanctity of marriage until we knew that there was absolutely no future for us. He wanted to get married and I refused unless he swore fidelity. He refused.
Besides the “cheating” issues and the years of lies and betrayals, I knew that marriage was not on my path. Over the years, I turned down over 100 marriage proposals. I had to be honest with myself. I wanted to be happy. I wished for happiness with all of my heart and knew that I would be on a life’s adventure until I found it – or it found me. I knew that I could never be happy with a man when I was not happy with myself.
I have not spoken to my old friend or communicated with him for the past 24 years. Then the year 2011 came along and when the calendar hit January 17th, I thought: let’s Google him. I found him easily and got his work email address. I wrote a simple email – nothing but “Happy Birthday.”
My heart stopped as I hit the send button and I wondered what I had just done and where this adventure would take me. When I returned to my email 15minutes later, he had responded. He thanked me and asked about my family. I responded and asked about his. He responded with greater detail and gave me a quick overview of parents and siblings. Then I responded in kind.
I told him about my parents passing and the deep dark secrets that have been revealed since their respective deaths. I told him that the truth put my childhood in perspective and that I was free. He responded that he didn’t know what “free” meant but that he hoped I was happy. He ended with a beautiful line from an Irish Blessing and I thought that our exchange had reached an end.
Then I began to think about his life and his wish for my happiness and I started to think about what I have done during the past 24 years.
I never followed the traditional path. With a professional degree, I was expected to have a job, make a lot of money, follow the rules and work hard and long hours until retirement. That’s exactly what my friend was doing. He told me that he had 6 more years till he got out of the business and then move on to “something fun”. All this time and in his second marriage, and he has still not had fun. It was clear that he was not happy.
I began to write. I decided to truly communicate with him and tell him about my life. The tears began to flow. I told him of my accomplishments and how I was at peace with myself and the world. I even sent him some pictures so that he could see the things I had described to him.
Then I began to realize – I was happy! Really happy. It was tangible and I could feel it filling my chest. My journey for happiness began with him 27 years ago when we parted and my realization of happiness came when I reconnected with him and allowed myself to let the love flow between us.
I am not saying that I am “there” for we all know that there is no “there” there. But I do know that I feel victorious. All of my professional life, I have felt inferior to those making the huge bucks and now that we are all reaching the age of completion, my peers are looking to finally have fun and find happiness.
My entire life has been fun. If it’s not fun, I don’t do it. Life is PLAY! I have played through life, experienced Life and Death, traveled, journeyed and always followed the adventure. My years have not been wasted. When we all get to the “finish line” and take stock of our lives, I feel like I have already won. I am ahead of the game. I don’t have to “finally do something fun” — I have done something fun each day. I don’t have to change my life and look for happiness, I already have it.
I cannot tell you how jubilant I feel. My life that I have judged, doubted and almost condemned has proven to be the wisest and most productive of all. For I have made the product that has true meaning. I have made some luvv.
When I love, I don’t know how to stop loving. How can I give my heart and soul to a person and then turn it off? I never stopped loving him or any of my old boyfriends. And as I love them more deeply, I feel the love growing exponentially inside of me.
As far as my friend is concerned, I am free from the years of anger, frustration and disappointment. I have released the grudges. I am free to luvv him, respect him and hope for the best for him. I never thought that I would accomplish this. I never ever ever thought that it would come now and be so quick and easy. Within 12 hours, I have balanced 38 years of my life.
Instead of looking back at the relationship as one that was a failure, I have a new reference point. His last emailed words to me are:
“I will always love the good and smart and loving part about you.
You are a great woman and great person and I am happy to hear you are happy.”
This acknowledgment touches me deeply. I never thought that I would hear those words from him. This is 2011 and I believe that everything can change. The Magic and Grace are upon us. Happy New Year!
Thanks, Deirdre. Are you on the work/life treadmill? 2011 is the year to learn how to get happy. Here’s more happiness from the Huffington Post.