At 56, I am now learning to love

Unlearning June 21 2023, Galina Singer

First day back home from my trip to the US and I’m processing.

The 10 days away were all about relationships for me: with my husband, my daughters, my own mom and sister.

More specifically, it was a lot about how I feel in these relationships. Am I open to flow freely and able ro receive enjoyment, or am I full of guilt and need to protect myself?

There was a little bit of everything.

I found myself quite on the defensive with my mom and sister – anticipating judgment and receiving their disappointment. In my family of origin I am the disruptor of patterns. It creates a lot of discomfort in rare times we meet. It is the price I’m learning to pay, as I shift from people pleaser to boundaried adult.

In my own family – I try to be more present to what’s required now. I evolve and flow with the disruption that my children introduce. I also respond to my own inner calling and consider my personal needs now. Change feels more familiar here.

It’s a little bit of both with my husband: allowing change and resisting change.

At 56, having raised three children, and in a marriage of three decades, I’m only now learning what it means to love.

For me, a lot of this new knowing about love comes from the increasing sense of safety to be who I am.

To want what I want, to take time for me, to stop sacrificing my wishes in order to fit into other people’s expectations – this still feels new and quite edgy sometimes.

And yet – it is this respect to my own needs that has allowed me to free my children and my husband to do the same.

I no longer judge my lovability or worth by their choices. Nor do I view their wish to give of their time and attention to other people and pursuits as diminishing of their love for me.

The more I allow them to flow freely, the easier, simpler, and more joyful it is to be together.

When I admitted to myself that I love my time outside of my family relationships just as much as I love my time with them – I no longer judge their wish to be away from me as a threat to our relationship.

Love feels so much more abundant and spacious when given freely, outside of duty and obligation.

I find that a lot of pain and suffering in relationships happen when we hold people to our idea of and expectations from them. Where we need them to behave a certain way for us to feel good. Of course, this is directly dependant on our judgment and expectations from ourselves.

The health of our relationships with others is built from our relationship with our self.