I Hate It When They’re Right

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Separation.

Early into keeping a journal and sharing it with other women in  the same starting-over situation—I’d say about two months—someone convinced me to turn my little essays on life, coping, and healing into a book at year’s end. That seemed simple enough…until I started to format the book and realized I had written  200,000  words  in  my  rebirth.  That’s  roughly  three books’ worth of novels. And way too many pages for one book of this type.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

“So split it into three books,” one of my big-name author  friends told me. She’s also a gifted intuitive. “You’ve got two natural breaks in the book. One at a third through the page count and the other at two-thirds through the page count.”

She was right. The first one ends with an emotional bang,  though more like a gunshot. The second ends with the echo of the gunshot from the first one (so to speak) and with yet another emotional bang. The third book ends with a sort of resolution and understanding beginning to take place.

“But I really wanted to make it all one book so you see the journey through the entire year,” I protest to my friend. “I could just cut out a lot of the minor entries.”

She’s been reading my journal since the beginning and shakes her head. “No, you need to break it up. Your material is too heavy to read the whole year at once. And the healing is in the details.”

Yeah. She’s right. In reading the edits, I’ve discovered something  I really hate to admit: that “they” were right. The guides. The advisors. The intuition.

When I first came out of my divorce, I was ready to be loved again. I’d done a lot of working-through in the last legal year of my marriage and I felt ready to be in a relationship again. At least, my heart was ready.

But in looking back, I wasn’t ready. I could have gotten into a lovely man-woman physical relationship then and it would have been pretty good, but I think one or both of us would have screwed it up because there was so much re-programming to do.

There were so many patterns I was unaware of that I had to un-do after twenty years of learning. Little things. Like the expectation that if I disagreed, the other person would say something hurtful to me or stomp off, refusing to talk. Like the expectation that if I didn’t get a  response right away, then I must have said something wrong. Like  somehow if life wasn’t perfect, then it had to be my fault.

There are other patterns I’m still unlearning. Like that I can be  loved without having to earn it through good works, “selfless” acts, or  beaten submission. Like feeling an emotion without guilt or defense. Like  how not to be surprised when someone is truly open with me. Like believing without expecting.

I know many people come out of long-term relation- ships and immediately immerse themselves in a “rebound” rela- tionship. I’m not talking about people who had lovers waiting in the wings for the divorce to  be final. Rebounders tend to go right back into relationships that echo  their marriage partner. Right back into the same patterns, the same mistakes, the same lessons yet to be learned. Or, if they don’t settle on one person, they date a series of partners, all identical to the ex. They’re still looking for what they lost instead of for themselves. And I’ve seen way  too many men remarry a new person in their lives within a year of their wives’ walking out the door, all trying to recapture former joys and just  setting themselves up for even harder lessons.

I suppose this goes back to being told to “give it a little while” and “be friends first for a long time” and “get rid of your baggage now and  then later there can be so very much more between you and the man you connect with.” I’ve let go of a lot since keeping my journals, and while I’m not necessarily a different person, I do feel I’ve let myself out of the  box. Maybe there’s one toe still in there….

Am I ready now for a long-term relationship? I don’t know. I think so. I thought so a year ago, too, though. So only time will tell. I do  know that what I’m learning now isn’t so much in the area of letting go  of the past but in discovering what’s possible for the future. I’m being prepared for the good stuff that’s out there so it won’t be such a  surprise  when it shows up.