There was a time that I was dating someone I called Mr. Love-A-Lot. At one point during our relationship, he declared that he needed some time alone. In the past, those words would have made me crumble and ask, “Don’t you love me?” Well, true confession: when he made his request a few tears did fall from my eyes, but what I was really crying about was how I had that same thought days before but didn’t say it. I wanted to get away by myself but I looked at all the things I had to do and just sighed while he did the same thing and took care of himself. Men!
During three seasons on Starting Over, I had to learn how to take care of myself. The grueling hours wore me out. The first season so much so! Season two and three I practiced asking for what I needed and putting firm boundaries in place. But at the time I was in love and those same skills I became so good at seemed useless to me.
I applaud parents everywhere. Having added a three-year-old to my life with Mr. Love-A-Lot was an absolute joy but also presented a dilemma: how do I relish the time I have with her, stay sexy for my man and still get business done? For six months I had been navigating that tight-wire act with some, and at times, no success.
For instance, when Mr. Love-A-Lot told me he needed time alone, I thought, “What do I do?” I applauded him. I was jealous. I couldn’t believe he took the words right out of my mouth (even though I hadn’t said anything).
Now I know some of you are thinking, “Well Rhonda, you got your time alone.” Yes, that’s right I did. And I had been so productive with no man and no child around my house that I could barely sleep. All I wanted to do is do, do, do. Clearly, that is not what I planned for my ‘away’ time. I dreamt about a beach, a blanket and doing nothing for days on end. But my ‘away’ time ended up as ‘stay-at-home’ time so stay at home I did, and worked like I hadn’t worked in months.
That was a wake-up call. I realized that I needed to get busy caring for myself or I would get burned out on love, motherhood, and nesting. And that’s the last thing I wanted to do.
Prior to Mr. Love-A-Lot, being single for six years taught me to appreciate relationships, yet when I was in one, I appreciated singlehood a whole heck of a lot.
That didn’t mean I wanted to be single because I was madly, wonderfully in love with him, yet it did bring to mind that the skills and boundaries I had when I was single were not being utilized inside my relationship at that time.
The coach needed coaching.
Every time my life changes, no matter how confident and successful I feel, lessons are on the horizon. More skills are needed. Awareness must increase. Self-responsibility must not go away just because I was in a relationship. I realized that I had the skills, I just needed to apply them in that situation because of what was at stake: my fear of being rejected.
And that is the crux. Facing my fear of rejection forced me to put my life on the examining table and look at how I was contributing to my own happiness. Mr. Love-A-Lot was smart about all that stuff. He looked at me and said, “I don’t know how to help you if you don’t tell me what you need.” I looked at him, with yes, tears in my eyes, and said, “I have no idea what I need.” And that was the truth.
That is what I discovered for myself. No one can figure it out for me. I had to decide what my needs are and then talk to Mr. Love-A-Lot (as well as Marta and my own coach) to help me brainstorm ways to get them met without compromising my dreams and desires.
In the past, I would have waited for Mr. Love-A-Lot to make me happy, but that is not what real love is all about. Real love is having the courage to love myself enough so I have more than enough love to share.
Are you loving yourself enough?