My journey to becoming a married man hasn’t been an easy one. I was engaged once before, but never made it to the altar. We tried, but we failed. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. I could throw her under the bus to make myself look good, but that wouldn’t be fair to her. And the way things didn’t work out taught us some valuable lessons, one of which is, don’t point fingers. The others are be self-aware and own up to your own contribution. It’s hard to speak candidly about your own mistakes, but that’s what I tell my coaching clients to do so I have to practice what I preach.
Looking back on my previous relationship, I think the problem was I wasn’t engaged to the woman I was with, I was engaged to an idea. One idea was the idea of who she was. I wanted a woman who looked good on paper and my ex did. She was smart and articulate. People would meet her and be impressed, and thus, I thought, she would make me look good too — like my trophy wife!
Then there was the idea of who we were together. She had skills that could help me in my business. Her resume and reputation matched mine and would look good in the eyes of the public. I wasn’t necessarily attracted to her. I was more attracted to what people would think about us as a couple.
The last — and biggest mistake — was the idea of being married. I wanted to wed because of an image in my head. An image I got from TV. She could be Claire and I could be Heathcliff. It was an image that was different from what I saw in my home growing up in foster care. So when someone came along that fit these ideals I ran with it. Little did I know, sometimes the image of perfection we have in our heads clashes with the reality of who, and where, we are.
Falling in love with someone was a powerful experience for me. There was a certain freedom that occurred. The facade that I wore for the world could finally come off and I could be free to be myself. I’d been in relationships before, but I never felt safe enough to take that mask off. Love opened me up and who I really was emerged. But all of my “stuff” rose up too — stuff like insecurity, self-doubt, fear of being vulnerable, and of not being good enough.
To be in that relationship, I either had to work on myself to be a better human being or find a reason to get the hell up outta there! I ended up staying, which is not what some of us do. We run away, and I’ve personally been Usain Bolt many times myself— not because I didn’t desire to be in a relationship, but because it was just too difficult to confront myself. It was easier to put a surrogate out to the world.
After repeating this process enough times, I started to realize I can’t run from myself. So I got into me. I’ve gone to therapy, read almost every self-help book I can get my hands on, recited daily affirmations, done spiritual work, engaged in coed conversations, cathartic writing, yoga, prayer, meditation, healing with my exes and lots of soul-searching.
That process revealed a lot, and as I healed and got to know my self, I was transformed as a person. I wasn’t attracted to the same kind of woman anymore. I no longer wanted a woman to complete me. I want her to fit with who I was; be my compliment. It took some time to get there. I didn’t meet my wife until I was 31 years old. But looking back at the journey, one thing I know for certain is the work that I have put into me was the catalyst to being in a healthy loving relationship today.