One of my favorite lyrics is in a song called “Rise Up” on the album Goddess Chant by Shawna Carol:
The past is over; it can touch me not.
Let’s celebrate now all we’ve got.
The song reminds me to look at what is here and now in my life, not what I left behind me. Even if every day doesn’t make me feel like I’m in the middle of a Broadway musical, I’d still pick right now over five, ten, or even twenty years ago. Along with the pain I experienced came the many lessons that shaped me. Who would I be without them? What if I hadn’t learned or grown wiser from them?
Having been through two divorces and several not-quite-relationships, it would be easy to gaze backward on all of the debris and wreckage and think “failure.” After all, I didn’t follow the formula—didn’t fall in love with the right one in my 20s, didn’t settle down in suburbia with Mr. Perfect, didn’t have the standard 2.5 children and the fulfilling, rewarding career, while decorating like Martha Stewart and cooking like Julia Child. Nope.
My journey down the road of romance was full of false starts, insurmountable obstacles, irreconcilable differences, reinventions, and major transformations. That’s what you get when you have Pluto in Libra in the first house of your natal chart. I was truly destined for a lot of breaking down and rebuilding, partly because of the guys I attracted and simply because it’s part of my path this time around.
It has taken plenty of soul excavating to move past bitterness, sorrow, and regret, but I can now say “thank you” for all the relationships that never worked. They were like stair steps that forced me to climb a little higher and work harder to define what I actually wanted and needed in my life.
Of course the work is never done, at least not while we’re breathing. Even after finding my soul mate, I will soon be challenged with a lengthy separation because our nation is still at war…and I married a soldier. With soldiers come deployments and a great deal of uncertainty. So, there is Pluto again saying, “How will you handle this one, ol’ girl? Hmmm? Gonna stay strong and bloom or wilt and fade away?”
Despite the insanity in the Middle East and the ups and downs of Army life, I am content. When love is the baseline and the foundation of anything, then the walls aren’t so easily shaken. That was the key all along, really—the four-letter word starting with “L” that I always left blank in my crossword puzzle.
If I could open up a portal in time and give my younger self some advice, especially when I was struggling to resolve the past, I would say this:
- Things always change. Nothing—whether you view it as good or bad—ever lasts that long. When your perception shifts, so do your circumstances.
- Healing can’t be rushed, so don’t get back into the fight if you’re still wearing bandages from the last round. Only you know for sure when the healing process is complete.
- Don’t overdose on self-help books and workshops. They all say the same thing. Find one method that works for you, and give it ample time and attention.
- Be wary of those who try to “fix” you, but be open to those who love you, warts and all.
- Say “yes” to new experiences. Go rock climbing, go sailing, go make some pottery. Go to whatever gets you out of the house and into the juiciness of life again.
- Treat yourself with as much kindness as you would treat a bird with a broken wing. You’ll fly again with proper care and attention, so nourish both body and soul.
- Don’t be so hard on the exes, even if they were crazy, selfish, and terribly misguided at the time. They are also human, and so are you. Remember, you picked them, and they picked you for a reason. It’s better to ask, “What have I learned, and what will I do differently from here on out?”
On a final note, there is a point in the whole process of moving on when you realize all you are missing by staying stuck in the muck of the past. It hurts worse to stay immobile than to move, so you take a step, then one more, and then another. It gets easier—the walking, the visioning, the trusting, the cracking open…and then you find you are not just walking but positively running at the speed of life.
- Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chodron
Everything by Pema is golden in my book, but this one was especially helpful.
- “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School”
The main character in this film stumbles upon a creative way to move past his grief. It’s both humorous and heart-felt.