Life, the universe, God, whoever, or whatever has a funny way of putting us to the test. When such tests are administered, sometimes, I feel like a straight A student who easily aces said test and moves to the head of the class. Other times, I feel like a completely unprepared student being given a pop quiz, and I fail miserably. Whether the former or the latter student, there are always lessons to be learned. Always.
Some of the most humbling lessons that I have learned along the way have risen from the ashes of what remained after my world imploded. Depression. Anxiety. Divorce. Loss of significant relationships. Breast cancer. They each forced me to become a quick, or not so quick, as the case may be, study of how to survive when I was faced with the prospect of death either by own devices or thanks to an initiation into the cancer club.
Recently, I reflected on the seventh anniversary, for lack of a better word, of the aforementioned implosion. I thought to myself how much I have learned since that day and how much my life has changed for the better, which is something that I never thought I would say when I was in the throes of it. I patted myself on the back and breathed a sigh of relief. Then, life decided to challenge my self-proclaimed enlightenment and wisdom.
Instead of serving me up another lesson wrapped in personal tragedy, thankfully, this lesson arrived in the form of one of my favorite people in the world. We are two peas in a pod, and our connection truly touches my heart and is a source of pure joy. Which is why it has caused moments of pure panic.
Just when I thought it was safe to be happy, I was put to the test once again. At times, in the midst of my bliss, old insecurities and fears roll in to remind me of everyone who has exited my life over the years, especially the last seven years. Some of the people closest to me are now like living ghosts, who exist only in memories and pictures. While the reasons for the end of each relationship may vary, they all share one thing in common. Me.
Despite every reassuring word and gesture by my fellow pea, as soon as I began to feel cozy in our pod, the fear of being hurt would re-emerge. I began telling myself familiar stories. I am not good enough. Everyone I love eventually leaves. I will get hurt again.
When I got caught up in my old stories, I would share them with him by saying that I feared that he would cut bait. It was an innocuous way of conveying my deepest fears. Being hurt. Being discarded. Being replaced. Being anything but enough. With each thought, I grew more and more frustrated with myself. Hadn’t I already learned this lesson?!
Just when I thought that I had managed to sabotage something so very special to me, he told me a much different story.
I don’t want to “cut bait”. I never put out any bait to cut, okay?
Because I am not always such an astute student, I did not understand what he meant, which only elevated my anxiety. Then, he flipped the script on my story altogether. When I asked him to explain his comments, and he responded in kind.
Kristi Jo, well, it would presume that I had caught something on my line that I didn’t want and was willing to lose all of the fishing tackle associated with the catch, in order not to catch what bit my line. But you’re not a fish, and I’m not a fisherman, and that is not what defines our relationship.
As I have allowed his words to take root in my mind and heart, I have revisited those past relationships and what I learned from them. There were times when my own words and actions contributed to their demise, and there were other times when there I had nothing to do with the relationship ending and could not salvage it, no matter how much I tried. I may have been the common thread throughout all of these relationships, but I was not the sole contributing factor to their success or failure.
I also realized that while I have experienced the loss of a number of significant relationships, that number pales in comparison with my family members and friends who have chosen not to cut bait. They have chosen to be part of my story and to allow me to be part of theirs, and they love and accept me unconditionally. They remind me that I am more than enough and leave me wanting more for my life and for those in it.
Some lessons may need to be repeated until they are learned. This particular lesson is one that I still am learning, but in the end, I am confident that I can make the cut without having to cut bait.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story