RD&T’s contributing writer, Edie Weinstein, reflects on relationships and what it means to have a blended life.
Seasons have turned three times since I began working with relationship coach Lori Ann Davis, whose skills are highlighted on the show Radical Dating. When we were initially introduced by filmmaker and author Betsy Chasse, buds were blossoming on trees as were my desires for partnership. Having been widowed (now passed the 19th anniversary on December 21st) and experienced numerous short term relationships, countless first dates, friends with benefits (that I prefer to call ‘heart friends’), I expressed readiness to welcome a full-time, committed person in my life. In the interim, the journey has been sprinkled with joys and challenges. Wonderful men have crossed my path, some remaining as treasured friends even though they didn’t pan out to be partner material.
As I am typing these words, a blizzardy day is taking place outside my windows, mirroring the sometimes tumultuous feelings that have blown through, leaving me raw and chilled. My heart needed to be thawed out and it was, with the love offered to whatever degree they were able, by those whose words and actions melted me.
As a therapist, who is also an empath, I sit with clients who are swimming in Emotion Soup.
I do my best to assist them in safely traversing the currents without drowning. As a result, I get splashed. Seems like I need to shake it off and not take on the pain of others, as I sometimes do with those in my personal life as well. Breathing isn’t optional, as I have discovered.
Another insight came as a result of encounters with two couples over the past few days. As an interfaith minister, I officiated at a wedding on New Year’s Eve day for a young couple in which the bride is Christian and the groom is Muslim. Blending these two faith traditions is something they willingly do. The mother of the groom asked me prior to the ceremony whether I marry people ‘in the name of Jesus’.
I smiled as I told her that I marry people in the name of Love.
Mama clearly approved of my answer. These two met in a bar where the bride-to-be was celebrating her birthday with friends and he came over to wish her Happy Birthday. Clearly, a spark was lit that outshone any candle on her cake.
A few days later, I was at a restaurant/bar listening to a friend perform at a local open mic. I asked to sit at a table where there was an empty chair. A woman nodded and motioned for me to join them. As I was enjoying the music, I overheard her sharing that she and her husband had been married by a Buddhist monk in Thailand, which is where he was born. She was born in raised in the United States as a Christian. They met in Washington DC through their respective lines of work. They laughed as they shared that only by virtue of happenstance, unplanned, did their paths cross and six months after their initial encounter, they wed.
Two lessons for me, in each case:
- These two seemingly different individuals were able to blend their lives harmoniously.
- They met in unanticipated ways when they weren’t looking.
I hosted a party here over the weekend that brought together long-time and new friends. My house is eclectically decorated in a manner that an interior designer friend I met many years ago in Florida would call ‘ungapatchka’. It is a Yiddish word that translates to ‘ridiculously over-decorated’, although I prefer to see it as mish-mosh fusion. Pat specialized in working with couples who were blending their lives, furniture, and artwork. New friends who had never set foot in my abode marveled and remarked at the angels who danced with faeries, feathers, colored twinkle lights, and shared space with Southwestern art, a large Buddha painting, Tibetan prayer flags, butterflies, crystals, drums, shelves of books (I have more books than any other item in my home), a stone Mayan calendar, a medicine shield and dream catchers embellishing walls. Cozy furniture and floor pillows welcomed people to lounge.
In conversation with Lori Ann, I wondered if there is someone out there who would feel at home with my style, reflective of my inner world. She reminded me that couples (using her husband and herself as examples) can successfully interweave their divergent experiences and lifestyles. I have been so fearful of being expected to dramatically change who I am (recovering co-dependent chameleon people-pleaser that I had been for many years), that I have questioned if it was possible to simply fold each other in like ingredients in a yummy cake batter. Ready to do that…and lick the spoon!