Have you ever gotten to the end of your relationship or marriage, and wondered what happened to all the joy and all the love and all the promises of an enduring, lifelong connection?
Have you wondered “when did we shift gears from the deep love that we shared to…this? How did we get here?”
Have you been to the wayside rest where you can see the love and the good in the relationship, and you want to stop and nourish it, but your partner speeds on by?
What. The. Heck. Happened.
I’ve stood in this spot. And it is painful. I refer to the time I spent here as “resurrecting the dream of what was.”
At first, it seems like such a fun little trip down memory lane. You know the lane I’m talking about. It’s the one lined with gingerbread houses, filled with seemingly sweet treasures of the past.
“Oh, I remember how much he used to care. He was so available. He always made time for me.”
“She loved me so much and promised our love was forever.”
And then, as we walk down the “resurrected street of dreams,” we try and taste the roof of the gingerbread house or the gum drop millwork. And guess what? It’s stale. The gingerbread tastes like cardboard and the gum drop has become a flavorless rock. And sometimes the trip down memory lane is just plain nasty, with uneven pavement that leads to a bad fall, skinned knees and a bruised ego.
The truth is, usually only pain awaits those trying to recreate the joy-filled past. It’s denial in a party dress, except the party is over, and only the dirty dishes remain.
What also lingers, like a hangover, is the knowledge that the “ex” usually feels quite differently about the whole matter. Often, any attempt to resurrect the street of dreams with the ex is met with hostility, or worse, indifference. As if all the good had never existed.
Science says that when this occurs, there are typically different attachment styles at play. While one style (anxious) wants to reach out to reconnect in the place of the relationship’s positive past, the other style (avoidant) turns off all of these happy memories and remembers only the worst about their former partner.
When this occurs, we need to recognize we are just grieving. We have landed, for a time, in the stage of denial. We do not want the dream of “us” to end. We want to return to the joy of the past. But, the past has passed. We are holding a one-way ticket, with no return trip.
And then we remember. And then the sadness returns. But not forever. With time, it yields. After the rain comes the rebirth. New beginnings that carry the possibilities nurtured and cultivated in the rich soil of acceptance.