Until Death Do Us Part; But the Death of What?

Until Death Do Us Part; But What has to Die?

I was watching Iyanla Fix My Life this past weekend and she asked a very poignant question. She said people take the vow “until death do us part,” but what has to die for you to say the relationship is over?

Is it the death of our intimacy, the relationship itself, the emotional well being of our children, our physical safety, or the death of our essence or self, or the death of our ego.

I can totally understand that we must die to our ego’s to be in relationship. In fact that‘s the only way you can be in a healthy relationship or else it’s all about you and what you can get from your mate rather than a shared partnership.

But I don’t think relationship requires death to our Selves with a capital “S”, I think the little “self” is the ego. That part of you that wants what it wants when and how it wants it. And then I think there is our higher spiritual Self, our highest expression, that part of us that came to fulfill a purpose. And often your role in the relationship is part of that purpose, And at the same time, I don’t think we should have to give up that very critical part of who we are, why we are here simply to have a man in our lives.

I don’t think we should compromise on ensuring the wellbeing of our children and their safety and I certainly don’t think we should compromise on our own safety.

I am not an advocate of divorce. I’ve said many times, I am a hopeful romantic, believing in boundless love, held together by our commitment to creating a life with one another that honors, cherishes, and respects the other. And when that love is suffocating and debilitating I think it may be time to reevaluate, regroup and reassess the value of the relationship.

Death do us part, could simply mean the death of the primary purpose we came together, maybe it was simply to parent kids, maybe it was to grow you both in a way that would prepare you for the relationship you have after this one. Maybe you were never supposed to be together in the first place and what must die is your unhealthy attachment to one another.

I do know that relationships call for us to be all in and if something has to die for us to bring our full selves to be in the relationship, it begs the question if this is the relationship I was meant to be in. Yes we should, evolve, grow, and grow up. But we should have to lose ourselves in or to the relationship to have it. Nor should have to compromise the wellbeing of our children, our family or anything else we hold dear. A relationship should enhance the life you have, not cause it’s untimely demise.

So if you are in that relationship that has you feel like a little of you, your hopes, your dreams are dying each day, ask yourself what more has to die before I choose me before we.

Don’t Believe the Hype – The Real About Self Care

Everyone that follows me, has attended any of my seminars, live streams, or been a coaching client knows that I advocate self-care.

Not because it’s some coachy, jargony, cool buzz-word; or because every other coach is talking about it and I think I should be talking about it; or even because there are people who’ve made millions on the subject and I want my cut.  

I talk about it because this is a real solution to a real problem that women have in their over-scheduled, over-hectic, over-achieving life styles.  

Ladies, we are so busy trying to cram as much life as we can into our days, that we basically give up our right to have a life; we bow to the will of our Siri-Alexa smart phone virtual assistant, and she (like us) continually overbooked our days, nights, and weekends.  Hey, I know from personal experience, I’ve been guilty as charged.

But there comes a point in every woman’s life where she just hits that wall.  There’s a morning when you wake up, the house is quiet, and you just lay there dreading your whole day of “have-tos”.  You dream of Jamaica, The DR, or a cruise to somewhere, anywhere, and can’t remember when you took a vacation, without the kids, without your laptop, without your Siri-Alexa assistant to remind you which way was up.  And, then you just feel defeated because you know that trip can’t come anytime soon (or could it?). So you sigh, close your eyes, and try to steal five more minutes of sleep before the alarm goes off, the kids wake, your honey rolls over, or you start feeling anxious about today’s presentation at work.

But here’s the real on this ladies.  Self care isn’t some lofty coachy idea.  Self care is what every human being owes themselves if they want to live a long, healthy, and prosperous life.  We spend so much time chasing life – aspiring, achieving, acquiring – there is no room to relax, refresh, and recharge.  

Studies show that women are more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress than men.  Stress can show up in many ways; headaches, back aches, being short-tempered,  forgetful, lack of energy, lack of focus, and ultimately, stress can impact your ability to get things done.  For some, it even results in a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, and even have an impact on your relationships.

And, it doesn’t have to be like this!  You can take mini self-care vacations every day, or at least a few times a week, to improve your health, emotional and spiritual well-being, and your longevity.

You don’t need to drop everything you are doing and hop on a plan to the Virgin Islands. (Although, I recommend if you are able to do so, go for it!)  You can carve out 5 to 30 minutes each day to pause, breath, and honor your needs.  

Whether it’s taking a bath, having a coffee, chatting with a girlfriend, reading a book in the park, or journaling at lunch, these mini self-care vacations are the glue that hold you and your life together.  

Self care isn’t for sissies!  It takes something to set boundaries and honor them.  It takes courage to actually require Siri-Alexa to put in a self-care block in your calendar, and often the strength of Wonder Woman to actually honor it!  

You can’t pour into others, what you don’t pour into yourself.

Don’t wait until your body is failing, your relationships are in jeopardy, or you forget the big birthday party your child has been going on about for two weeks.  You don’t have to walk out of the meeting, get into a fight with your man, or go on strike at home until the laundry covers the top floor of your house.

You can simply carve out a few minutes each day, or a few days a week, to honor yourself, your needs, your body, your mind, and your spirit, in a way that fills you up and restores your soul.

Take the time, any time to begin to pay yourself first.  Even if all you can start with is one minute a day, then claim that minute with vigor and victory.  Protect that time as if your life depended on it.  And for some of us ladies, it might.

Want more ideas on how to take better care of yourself, join my free 5 day live stream challenge:

The Art of Paying Yourself First: How to Increase Your Energy, and Express Your Irresistible Essence with Confidence.
Ready to start paying yourself self first, and living a life you can’t wait to wake up to, click here: Makeover My Life.  

A Letter to Men

Fellas –

In this dog eat dog world  you guys get a bad rap. And most especially from women. We are hard on a brother. And generally not because of anything you did, but because of the long line of “sit down” fellas that preceded you. There are very few rights a passage for men in this day an age. At least for American men with few exceptions.

This cycle begins with fathers, who may not have been around at all; or if/when they were, they half-assed being a daddy as their fathers had before them. Not out of malice or a lack of love, but a lack of instruction or know how. And let’s face it fellas, you can give what you don’t have, or teach what you don’t know. The best of you reach out, figure it out, and commit to being a better man than those before you. The rest, I personally think are simply lost in their own struggle(s) with no one to show them them way. I’m not man, but my guess is just like being a woman, without someone to show you the way, the journey is long, hard, and the ass-kickings frequent.
For women dating those dudes it looks like, (or feels like) anything and everything from being with a guy who simply has no integrity – i.e. does not honor his word, or trying not to project your frustrations from that last “sorry” so-and-so who lied, cheated, couldn’t or didn’t commit, used her, or all of the above.  


Throw in the the hundreds of hits you get from the less than honorable gentle-”men” online, and what you have is a generation of women who have lost faith in a man’s ability to be a man; or a “good” man however she defines it.


With no hope to meet the man of our dreams, we fully installed our “bitch-shield”, and pray for the best. This is that wall of resistance, anger, bitterness, distance, or disdain that you guys probably encounter as early as the first phone call.
Years of training have taught us not to believe, not to trust, not to open to a man, because we know that in the end, we’ll be the ones listening to One Last Cry by Brian McNight, drowning our sorrows in Hagen Daaz. 


Years of practice have harden our once soft hearts, making it damn near impossible for a man, any man, great, good, or in-progress, to get in without scaling the fortress of judgment, fighting dragons of the past, only to be required to give us a kiss of pure love and commitment before you even know our name.


And, it’s not fair.


No we shouldn’t judge you based upon our experience of the past, but if that’s all we’ve got, and we girl’s feel justified in protecting ourselves. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying that’s how it is.


And it’s not just women, that give men a bad rap, it’s society at large. There are no television shows with strong men. All the sitcoms portray men as idiots, or being controlled by women. The women earn the money and run the family.


All of the drama’s have men as players, or if they are in a relationship they are liars, cheaters, or abusers or have to come to some crisis of belief before they “fall” in love and “discover” that she is the one.


Romance novels paint unrealistic pictures of the “perfect” man leaving women to ponder “Where the hell is this dude?”


Reality shows give us the scarcity take on relationships – i.e. there are very few men in the world in general. And the few that exist are out either out of our league (all millionaires in LA, or 22 years old software geniuses who’d rather play video games), or we’ll have to scratch and claw our way through 20 women to get to one good single man in our office, church, singles group.


Self-help books tell you to work on yourself and don’t worry about the man at all. He’ll either show up or if he doesn’t, eventually you won’t care. So embrace being lonely and like it.

Well, I don’t believe it! I don’t believe all men are players, commitment-phobes, or idiots; I don’t believe that men aren’t capable of real intimacy, real connection, and mature relationships; and I sure as hell don’t believe that men don’t want intimacy, partnership, and love.


 What I DO believe is that we’ve made it impossible for men, masculine men, to show themselves,and be appreciated. 


That holding a door gets you a nasty look. Offering to carry a package, gets you a nasty comment, and offering a compliment or comment about her beauty or feminine charms gets you slapped.


I get it. It’s not easy to be a man today. It’s not easy to have your masculinity accepted, appreciated, llet alone celebrated.
And you know what? You know what the real truth is?
Women are DYING to see MEN!! We are LONGING to know you exist. 


We want to see you.


We NEED to see you.


We want to witness your masculinity.


We want to revel in it, be protected by it. This isn’t about taking us back to the 1920’s where all there is for women is the kitchen and the bedroom. This is about showing up as the full power of masculine men in the face of the fullness of a feminine woman.  
It’s about a man being able to be in the presence and accept all of me/us as woman and still be in your masculine. There is NOTHING sexier that a man holding his full masculine presence energy in the full expression of a woman. 
It is this expression of masculinity that we want to see, need to see. We ladies are looking for our compliment, our rock, and our champion.


We want to see men; men who lead and men who love; men who laugh and men who cry. Men who father and men who parent. Men who keep their promises, and men who act with generosity as well as ferocity.


We need to know that you actually exist, that the there is real possibility for lasting and loving relationship with a grown a*s man, capable of grown up love.
Yeah, I know some of you say yeah, I’m that guy and women don’t want me, like me, or the package I come it. They are condescending, commanding, demanding, and downright domineering. And frankly no one has time for the nonsense.
Hey, I hear you. And I write this letter as someone has to make the first move.  
We have to see with better eyes and engage with an open heart.

And my request of men is to stand firm in the fullness of your masculinity.
Maybe just maybe we can meet in the middle.


So MEN . . . Show Yourselves . . .


Men of integrity, show us that you can honor his word and your needs..


Men of strength, offer to help me with my packages. In fact, insist. Show me that this man never lets a woman struggle when your strong arms and take the weight.


Men of tenderness, lend me your shoulder when you hear the sadness of my voice. Wipe my tears with your gentle hands when they spill onto my cheeks. Show me you can handle my sadness even when it’s inconvenient and you can’t fix it.


Gentlemen, hold my doors, offer your arm when we are walking, request a call to so you know I’m home safe. Help me with my coat, take my hand when I’m stepping into and out of your car. Gently usher me into a building with your hand in the small of my back, and present me as someone meaningful in your life to friends and family.


Lovers learn what pleases and pleasures me. Don’t just “understand” that my body needs more time, honor that, support that, usher me to fulfilment, allow me to completely surrender to your touch.


Protectors don’t be afraid to stand up to me and for me. If I’m being a shrew, gently remind me of who I am, and remind me of who you are, my man, on my side, loving me always. Stand for me when we face the world. Have my back, don’t leave me out there uncovered, unprotected, vulnerable. Stand with me when we create our lives. Be a stand for our relationship, fight for us, protect the sanctity of our relationship against internal threats infidelity, boredom, routine, and outside threats – non-supportive family and friends, tragedy, sadness, health issues, family crisis, and demanding careers. 


Providers create a safe space for me to be me, for me to be loved exactly as I am exactly as I am not. Do your share to contribute to our lives emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and financially. Create as space me to flourish and blossom.


Fathers show me you can be a dad, present for your children, respectful of their mother no matter your status. That you can be emotionally available and financially responsible for any child you have brought into this world. That YOUR children are important to you and a part of your life. That you refuse to contribute to the next generation of women who can’t see a man as a gift.


Leaders share your relationship vision, your life’s mission. Let me see that you are actually going somewhere doing something. That your aren’t self-absorbed but rather a self-advocate for all. That you know what you want, and aren’t afraid to go after it, no matter what it is, including me. That you aren’t afraid to lead me, to lead a relationship, to lead a family into a life of love. It may not be a perfect life, but you can be counted on to be there making choices with me in the trenches, in the moments when life is rough. 
Your masculinity belongs to you. Of course you don’t need a woman’s permission to express or give your gifts. I also know the world is not making it easy for you to show up fully, present as masculine. Women have been conditioned not to trust the masculine with our bodies, with our hearts, with our hopes, fears and dreams. Now more than ever we need you to show up, stand up as the full expression of masculinity; as warriors for truth, champions of children, protectors of family; as leaders, as lovers, and as friends.
I know you are out there. 

Show yourselves.

You will be welcomed.

Top 5 Traits that Will Attract Any Man

Ok, it goes without saying that men are visual creatures. So this won’t be an article that tells you what you need to do to improve your biology and physicality. I’ll leave that to Shape and Vogue. I think we all know that being a part of the hunter gatherer tribe known as the human race, good health is a major attractor factor and traits like hair, skin, nails, teeth all play a part in overall attractiveness. Then genetics take over and we can add eyes, hip to waist ratios, your radiant smile, and graceful posture and you’ve got the ingredients to become a goddess. Throw in a bit of decoration and accentuation and your presence packs the visual gut punch you’ve to bring most men to their knees.

But looks aren’t everything. All that biology is really about initial attraction, and that’s the easy part. Add a dash of chemistry and you definitely have the makings of a hot one night stand or weekend bone – nanza (like what I did there?). But what turns your Mr. Right Now, into Mr. Now and Forever? How can we turn his desire, into delight? What is it that makes a woman the total package, that something that will hold his attention beyond diner and drinks and after sex?

I thought you might ask that. So here are seven traits that almost every man wants in his women.

  1. Kindness: Yeah this one blew me away. It’s so simple but I suspect in today’s fast food, “me/I” society, it’s harder to come by than we think. Almost every reference I pulled up had this one listed in some form or another. One even reference a major study of 10,000 men where this was the number one trait. A man pays attention to how you treat others and how you treat him. It’s all about the little things, being on time, being polite to friends, family, servers, people really, being thoughtful and concerned about more than just your needs. Kindness translates into consideration. And all men (and women too) want to be with someone who is considerate of their needs, wants, and wishes.
  2. Passionate (about something or everything): Men want to see your passion, the thing that lights you up from the inside. The cause that calls you forward; the injustices you want to make right; the unwavering love you have for animals; the quirky obsession you have with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Your passion is what makes you interesting. It’s the fire that gives your radiance. It gives you something to share and shows him something unique about you. And at the end of the day, in spite of what all the magazines and reality shows try to tell you about simply being a babe in a bikini, turns out, being you, quirky passions and all, is the ultimate attractor factor.
  3. Sense of Humor: Ok I think this one is self-explanatory. No one wants to be with a stick in the mud. If you can laugh at yourself, then you can laugh with him (make sure it’s not at him – no one likes that), Trust me ladies, if you take yourself and these guys too seriously, you will end up single for the rest of your life. If you simply take a step back and breathe, you’ll find yourself laughing at the hilarity of this thing we call dating, this journey called relationships. Dating and being in a relationship is one of the most entertaining human experiences there is. Think about how many books, movies, tv sitcoms, commercials, and reality shows have been written to do just that. Like the book says, don’t sweat the small stuff, and may the farce be with you! And yeah, I crack myself up, lol!
  4. Appreciative: Take the time to show and tell your man how much you appreciate him. If you want him to keep coming back acknowledge him for the big things for sure, and more importantly the small things. This will ensure you get more of all things. This is especially true if you are in a long-term relationship. Studies show men in long term relationships feel more criticised than appreciated. Want him to stick around? It’s import that he is acknowledged for that the man he is and his contributions to you as a woman. No sky-writing or seven course meals are required. A simple thank you, a smile, or loving touch will do.
  5. Honesty: Ok ladies this can be tough for us, not because we aren’t honest, but because the truth is hard; hard to say, and hard to hear. And at the end of the day, both men and women report wanting honesty in their relationships. The truth gives us choice. The truth gives empowers us. The truth takes a level of evolution and maturity in relationship. The truth builds intimacy and respect. Without truth, you cannot have real lasting love. Without truth you are constantly working to keep up the facade of who you think he wants, rather than allowing him to see the beauty in the truth of who you are. The key here is to share your truth in love and with respect. Let your words be kind (see number 1) and your touch be appreciative (see number 4) while the truth falls from your lips like a gentle rain. Trust me, he won’t be able to resist you.

There you have it ladies. Not rocket science. No magic bullet, or potion required. Men appreciate the simple things. Offer your most authentic version of these traits and watch him move from desire to delight by having you as his lady.

The Purpose in My Pain – Part III

I was hurt.  

My divorce was devastating.  

The kind of devastating that makes you sit and simply wonder “Why?”  No other questions, just why?

Why me?fractured-heart

Why him?

Why us?

Why now?

It was the single defining question that has shaped my life and led me to my purpose.  

And the answer I came up with was even more gut wrenching.

“Why not you, him, us?”

Growth isn’t about making everything in your life perfect; it’s about what you do when life goes to hell on a rocket.  

I realized I’m not the only woman who’s been cheated on.

It’s not only men who cheat; women cheat too.

I’m not the only person who got divorced.

My husband was divorced too.

He was hurting too.

We were hurting.

Our family and friends were hurting, watching “us”, break apart, crumble, disintegrate.

It was no longer about what happened.  It was about what now?

And that question changed the game.

That question upgraded my thinking from victim to victor.

Hurt people, hurt people.  I didn’t want to hurt anymore, and most importantly, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Both had consequences beyond what I was willing to pay.  I wanted to be healed.  I wanted to be loved.  I wanted to know love, attract love to become Love.

I wanted to come out of my cave; the safe comfortable cocoon I’d built for myself.  I wanted to live my life in the sunshine, in the wind, and in the rain; to move with the pulse of life, dancing in the key of life, stumbling, falling, and getting up to twirl again.  I wanted to be open, expressed, seen for all the things I am, and more importantly, accepted for the things I am not.

And, I was terrified. (Hell, I still am.)

Still it was this relationship, this ending, that gave me my beginning.  This fork in the road that put me on the path to my purpose, that ushered my own personal growth and development.  It was this defining experience, that gave me the courage to check my ego at the door and consider someone else’s challenges and issues besides my own.  It’s this healing process that had me actually consider the role I played in all the scenarios.  That made me consider that I was a not simply a supporting actor in this movie, I was in fact, a star, The Star.

When I took a look at the roles I’d played all my life with men, I didn’t like what I saw.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not justifying infidelity, cheating, affairs, emotional or otherwise.  AND, when it does happen, it’s not always about being selfish.  It’s often about the other person’s driving need for something lacking in their lives, and often times that “something” is even unknown to them.

I realized that I was so angry, so hurt, so triggered, by my own childhood wounds, I never stopped to ask questions that would have been, could have been, healing for us both.

That while monogamy, commitment, and marriage are preached, and verbally supported, so is infidelity, manipulation, and emotional vampirism.  That the no one really gives you, me us, the tools to create an intimate romantic relationship, let alone a successful marriage, and thriving family.  No one teaches you how to secure and protect your marriage from anything until the threat has already invaded the sanctity of your union.

That there is no formal education, group chat/therapy, coaching that is ingrained in the fabric of our society that teaches us how to relate to ourselves let alone a partner with Authenticity, Vulnerability, soulfully Listening and fully Witnessing.  Actually being a partner who holds space, gives or allows space for the emotions of others, good and bad, the gentle and the powerful, without taking them on, or fearfully backing away to defend, deflect, or deny.

There is no school for us to learn to allow our own humanity, and be with another’s.  We spend our whole life learning how to be better at the roles we play  child, teen, young adult, college student, employee, manager, director, wife, mother, husband, father, lover.  We do not embrace the totality of these roles as our human experience, as part of the fabric that makes us who we are each and every day.  If we cannot embrace the places within ourselves that are hurt, afraid, timid, or weary how will we know how to embrace our partners?  If we cannot forgive and accept the challenges in our own lives, how will we extend grace to our lovers?

If we want to be connected boundlessly without depth or form to one another we have to be willing give 100% to one another without the fear of judgement or shame.  We have to allow ourselves to be seen for who we are warts and all.  We have to witness the lives of others and share our own.  In short we have become love for ourselves and then allow love to and from another.

It is this evolution, this openness, this expression of humanity that I came to.  For when we can truly be ourselves, and love ourselves first and foremost, the next and easiest logical step is to love another; without expectation, attachment or obligation. We know that like ourselves, others want to allow and become love as well.  They too are on their own journey seeking and witnessing love.

Each time I encountered my former husband, I was confronted.  It wasn’t just about who he was or what he did, it was about who I was, how I felt, and responded.  And each time there was tension or upset, I was forced to go back and sit with the dark places I didn’t love within myself.  

Anyplace there was a wound, a dark secret, a shame, an unfelt or unearthed belief I held about myself, his comments, even the positive ones could occur like a slap in the face.  Not because he was trying to hurt me, but because I was already hurting.  

Today, my daughter’s dad and I have a great relationship.  No bullsh*t!  It’s not perfect.  Far from it.  I still unearth wounds in his presence that I didn’t know were there.  But with each new discovery, I get closer and closer to the real Ivy.  And that is why my divorced saved my life.  It revealed the Real Ivy; the beauty of me and the ugliness that I’ve denied or hidden.

I realized that he is still the soul of kindness, tenderness, and gentleness.  He is protective and patient.  And although no longer a lover, he is still a partner and co-parent of my 15-year-old daughter.  I have come to believe we aren’t meant to be soul-mates in the romantic sense, but soul-mates on the journey through life as parents, friends.  

Through the years we’ve created this rich tapestry of learning, healing, growing, and evolving with one another, through the pain of our divorce and in the joy of parenting our child.  Each interaction is filled with emotions ranging from pain to joy and many feelings in between.  And it is this process, this relationship that has defined me in immeasurable ways. When you have someone in your life that triggers a range of human reactions, pay attention.  These are the relationship that have your see yourself; the good, the bad, and the galactically f-ugly.

There is magic in your misery; transformation in your tears; a purpose in to your pain.  

When I saw the whole of me, I realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to help other see the whole of them.  I wanted to be an usher, a guide to those who are in, or were in that same dark place of coming face to face with their real selves. I want to be a catalyst for healing, for exposing and revealing your highest good, my highest good, our highest expression of love in the world.  I want to help people heal their wounds so they don’t create sores and bruises for others. I want to help parents get past their need to punish former lovers and partners for not being the person they wanted them to be; to stop punishing their children because their marriage ended in divorce.  More importantly I want to help people stop punishing themselves for their failures; to drop the victim stories and emerge a victor; to let go of the trials and embrace their triumphs.

Eckart Tolle said it best.  “Relationships aren’t meant to make you happy.  They are meant to make you conscious.”  Even the best relationships drive up the worst in us.  Even the most loving husband or wife has made mistakes, has done things, been someone, they are not proud of.  The question is, when this happens, what are you prepared to do?  Who do you become when life tests your commitment to your marriage, your word, your vision?  

People always ask why I divorced. I tell them because we choose ourselves and not the marriage.  That is the truth.  We would have suffocated one another had we stayed married.  Never realized our full potential because we were too busy becoming someone we hoped would make the other person happy rather than evolving into who we were born to be.

I’m not advocating divorce.  I am advocating self-awareness, growth, and wholeness.  It’s not your status, but your interaction lover that causes your true nature to be revealed to you, and others.  

I am a Coach.  I didn’t become one, I was always one.  It just took this experience to reveal to me in no uncertain terms who I am, and what I stand for.  I am the person who advocates for the highest good in all interactions.  I am the person who encourages all to commit to their own vision of life; to deal with others with compassion and to act with integrity in all relationships. I advocate win-win-win in all of life.  Your win, is my win, is our win; and our win, is a win for our children, our children’s children, and therefore the world.  

I am stand for the people to do what it takes to be whole, healed, healthy contributions to the world community using their gifts and talents to further our human existence. I am your wing (wo-)man, your number 2, your cheerleader, your prayer warrior, your healer, a believer the fulfillment of your dreams, and unequivocal belief in value of your vision.  In short, I got your back, because I am the coach that stands for you to confront, to evolve, to embrace the real you.

Losing the relationship, doesn’t mean you have to lose the lesson.


My Divorce Saved My Life

Part II – Divorce

I never met a man that both pulled me out of my introverted cave and made me want to run into it all at once.  He was the soul of kindness, tenderness, and gentleness.  He was protective and patient.  I felt safe and scared all at the same time.  It was exhilarating.

I not only trusted him with my body, I trusted him with my secrets.  My fears.  The stories that haunted me.  Deep wounds of being molested, ignored, unappreciated, unseen, unheard, desperate, and haunting tales of a little girl struggling to become a woman, to find her place in this world.  He listened, and he gave me a place in his world.  That was all It was the best feeling in the world.

I had a solid definition of myself then.  Not because of him, because of me.  I remember being clear about what was important to me, standing for what I wanted, and committed to the fact that nothing would interfere with that.  Over time, the grip I had on my dreams loosened, and little by the dreams I’d held as individual, as a woman, floated away.  Dreams of a home, family surfaced.  It became the dream for which I was willing to give up all other dreams.  It was the thing, the vision I held in my heart as tightly as I held on to this man, this relationship.  For all that I wanted hinged on his wanting me and wanting this vision too.  

I never really asked if he wanted it, I just assumed that he did.  He never said he didn’t. But he never said he did either.  So we coasted along creating the life I thought we both wanted, the life we were “supposed” to create.   

Then one day, all of what we built was destroyed, like the ocean crashing down on castles built in the sand.  I felt the current pull me under and I was drowning.  In sorrow, in loss, in betrayal.  In the pain of “again”?  In the question of “Is this really happening?”  In the anger of “Why is this happening?” And like being caught in the current, I closed my eyes and held my breath and hoped that the sand swirling around me would subside, that the waters would recede and that I’d be able breath again.  

When the waters finally receded, the sand settled, and I finally could breathe, it hurt.  It hurt to simply take in fresh air.  It hurt to get up and move on.  It hurt to know I’d once again opened, trusted, loved, and been betrayed, reduced.  I retreated back to my cave and I hid.  I hid from friends, from family, from work, from life.  The only person I didn’t hide from was my daughter.  But of course there’s no risk in loving kids, right?  Children instinctively love their parents unconditionally and with vigor and fervor.  She was the new love of my life, the only light in this dim cave of my existence.  I felt physically and mentally exhausted.  All the hard work, prayer, wishing, and willing couldn’t change the fact that my friend, my lover, my husband had betrayed me. Friendship, commitment, in fact love, had betrayed me yet again.  My marriage was over.  My dream was dead.  And the flower that I had become wilted and over the next four years, until it dried up and died.

It remains the most painful experience I’ve had to this day.

And was likely the very thing that saved me from myself.

Stay tuned . . .

What do Infidelity and Divorce Have to do with Purpose?

Part I – Infidelity

I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.

He’d had sex with her.  

Bragged about it.  

He told all of our friends.

And he’d lied to me.

He was my friend.

He was my lover.

And he betrayed me.

We grew up together.  I’d known him since I was a kid, a child.  I thought that would protect me.  I thought the bonds of friendship would override biology.  I thought his sense of right and wrong would compel him beyond his sense of need and want.  I thought his love would override the ego’s need for lust.

I was wrong.

It was the first time I’d been cheated on.  I was a young girl.  Little did I know, it wouldn’t be the last.  And the pain would feel the same.  Everytime.

Most of us have been in this place.  Know this feeling of numbness.  The vortex of feelings hurt and anger cloaked in gut wrenching betrayal.  For some deeper feelings like depression, rage and revenge surface.  

It’s not so much the act as it is the lies, the feeling of being abandoned.  All this time you think he’s got my back.  (All the while someone is blowing his front).   Even at a young age I knew the power of a man’s word.  You lean into it, trust it, cling to it when things get rough, in the relationship, in life. And when I can’t believe what you say, it’s hard to believe anything else about you.

This was my introduction to relationship.  This was the first man (boy) I trusted.  So much so, I trusted him beyond friendship, I trusted him with my body.  He was my lover, my first lover.  I thought being trusted with such a gift would inspire commitment beyond biology.  

What I didn’t know then was how much I had it all collapsed into one big emotional soup.  My trust, our friendship, biology, betrayal, his love, my love, my definition of my femininity, sexuality, attractiveness, and self esteem were all coupled together, tangled in a mess of hormones, and the angst of young love.

Too much was riding on his ability to be faithful, my ability to handle it maturely.  What I know now is that some things change and some things never do.  

Men will always been men, and women women.  It’s not so much that we need to trust one another, it’s that we need to learn to trust ourselves without relying on the definitions of one another, without allowing the relationship define who we are as individuals.  So many times, cheating hurts so much because we make it mean something about the cheatee, not the cheater.  That’s not to imply that I or anyone who’s been cheated on is perfect.  But if someone breaks their commitment to you, that has little to do with you and everything to do with them.

We should always seek to take responsibility in relationship and own our actions or lack thereof when it comes to creating a health relationship.

And we can never allow the actions of someone else to define how we feel about ourselves, to change our character, who we know ourselves to be at our core.

A lesson I learned all too well in the next chapter of my love life