To Women I Have Judged

To women I have judged:

I’m sorry.

To those of you who have cried over your unmet desire to be married while I sat with you, trying to be an empathetic presence but meanwhile internally looking down on you for what I perceived as weakness, I’m sorry.

To those of you whose Pintrest wedding boards I made deriding comments about behind your back, I’m sorry.

To those of you who have posted vulnerable words of longing and loneliness to Facebook which I have scorned, I’m sorry.

Sometimes grief is the best teacher and humbler. As I have sat in the pain of relational loss these last few weeks, I have come to learn a few things about myself, and one of the hardest truths that has come to light is that I want to be partnered. Having been raised to value independence and see my capacity of doing great things on my own, it is still surprising to articulate to myself that I want to live my life with somebody else. I want somebody to bear witness to my life, and I want to bear witness to the journey of some one else. I long for someone to experience with me the ordinary holy moments of being in church Sunday evening, surrounded by the beauty of jazz piano and listening to a child sing the priest’s lines in the liturgy. I want to do the difficult but rewarding work of a long term relationship, to see what happens when I spend thirty, forty, fifty years turning towards the same Other who is also committed to me as we both keep growing and changing.

Because of the strength given to me in affirmation of my individual capacity as a woman to succeed in the world without a man, it’s been difficult for me to acknowledge this oh so human desire to be paired. Historically, rather than look into this perceived weakness in myself, I turned to judgement and quick condemnation of women around me who were more open and in touch with this desire. Anger and uncharitable laughter kept me safe from feeling my own aching for companionship. While life never seems to be either/or, I am coming to see the goodness found in the honest expression of grief from my peers over unmet desires.

So now here I am, carried by something of death into a face to face encounter with one of my own deepest and most repressed desires, and I have a decision to make. Is the risk of experiencing this kind of pain again worth the possibility of the joy that I might find in a long term, committed relationship? Do I let this pain teach my heart to put up protective barriers and save myself from this intensity of suffering? Or do I dare to reach back to the less accessible memories of the particular life and joy that follows being together with someone I love, and take the risk of keeping my heart open and soft?

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