And they lived happily ever after. At least that’s what the fairy tales tells us. Since we were little we’ve been told stories about a princess meeting her knight in shining armour, falling in love at first sight or in Sleeping Beauty’s case, first kiss. And finally, as easy as that, they lived happily ever after.
However, with the divorce rate at about 50%, happily ever after seems like a dream that only some seem to achieve. And even if you don’t divorce, is it really as simple as they just lived happily ever after? With conception problems, financial woes, and arguing about basic daily routine challenges, it seems that even the couples who stay together work tirelessly in order to achieve their happy ending. Whether a marriage falls apart because of infidelity, growing apart or the common irreconcilable differences, the idea of letting another person into your life again seems like an insurmountable challenge. If you have children, it becomes harder, as now it is not only your heart you are protecting, but also that of a little human who is your world.
Dating, in comparison to getting involved with someone, is easy. You meet someone, you go out, you have a good time or in some cases, not such a good time, and you move on. When the first date leads to a second encounter, to conversations and ultimately the possibility of letting someone into your world, things get a little trickier.
Trust. After a failed marriage, how do you hand your heart and vulnerability over to another person knowing how painful the feeling of broken trust is? How do you share hopes and fears with someone, when, in the case of a bitter divorce, all of the sacred thoughts you shared can be used against you? When you decide to get involved with someone, and I mean truly give someone a fair chance, you are certain that there are only two possible outcomes. You will either live happily ever after, or things will fall apart, and if they do you will be left to pick yourself up again and start over.
When I stood in front of family and friends, looking into the eyes of the man that I loved, I thought my “I do” would truly mean happily ever after. That the sanctity of marriage really could conquer all, and any visible cracks in my relationship would magically be repaired. A year later I was a statistic. The defiant girl who challenged the norm, was now part of the majority. The majority who hadn’t got the fairy tale ending she expected. When my marriage ended I was certain that I would never feel anything again. I didn’t believe that I was capable of feeling anything again, and the idea of trusting anyone, after experiencing betrayal, was a concept that I refused to entertain.
Once the divorce dust had settled however, the custody arrangements had been finalized, and my life established a chaotic routine, I found myself wondering about the future of my happily ever after, and if I had the courage to take a risk with my heart for a potential happy ending. I knew that I didn’t want to dive into a relationship and bare my soul straight away. I wanted to find out whether I was capable of trusting and having feelings for another person all over again.
I went out on a few dates, some better than others. A few materialized into friendships and others have taught me valuable lessons about trust, and even myself. I learned that giving my trust away and taking a risk on someone is never going to be easy, but that continuously using the phrase “I’m not ready to have someone in my life”, was just an excuse to guard myself. Not everyone is worth taking a risk for. Be cautious. You will come across people who will pirouette around the truth like a ballerina at her last recital. And the worst feeling is that of not being worthy of the truth. Individuals will come into your life who want delve into the intricate details of your personal life, for no reason other than to build up their gossip archives. Be aware, as keeping those individuals in your life will thwart your well-being, and throw you into a downward spiral of emotional upheaval. Be kind to yourself and cut the ties with people who don’t respect you enough to look after your heart, and bring you down for their own entertainment.
Unexpectedly you will meet someone and the little things they do for you will make you realise that you are capable of feeling again. The person who makes the effort to see you, spend time getting to know you, enquiring about your well-being, and checking up on you when you’re feeling down. The person who makes you laugh and evokes a smile from a simple message. Someone who goes an extra mile for you on special occasions, just because they want to see you happy. Someone who doesn’t fuel your insecurities or trust concerns, but who reassures you without anger or defensiveness. Someone who will be honest with you, regardless how unpleasant their story is, because they appreciate the courage it took to hand over your trust. The person who exhilarates you with new adventures and makes you discover sides of yourself that you didn’t know existed. Those are the people that are worth taking risks and chances for, as the hurt and pain of regret is greater than the fear of letting someone, who truly cares, into your life.
I haven’t found my happily ever after with a partner just yet, but my fairytale isn’t over. There are several chapters that still need to be written. The chapters about my loving family and incredible friends, who support me, stand up for me, and are always there for me. The chapters about my incredible son, our adventures as a family, and the unconditional love I have for him. Perhaps my happy ending doesn’t include a happily ever with another partner, but I no longer think that I won’t be able to feel again. In fact I am excited that I am able to have feelings for another person again and about the adventure that still lies ahead of me.
Originally published at medium.com