How I Found Happily Ever After My Way
Maria and I bonded after guest-hosting the third hour of the Today Show together this summer. For one of our assignments, we were asked to do a segment on our daily calming rituals. I chose to highlight a book called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. A section of the book–which reminded me of Maria’s recent essay on rewriting your narrative–talks about being the director of your movie: once you make personal changes, the secondary characters–as well as the circumstances around you–will change, too. This is so true.
When Maria asked me to write something for the Sunday paper, I thought about all the different things I am going through right now that could either help someone else or give him or her something to relate to. For me, this includes getting engaged in my 40’s (for the first time), becoming a step-mom, and trying to be my own best friend. As I wrote different iterations of the essay, I realized that there’s one common thread that runs through all these issues: it is never about what someone does to you; it is about how you react. You can control your movie, direct it, star in it, and create whatever ending you want.
In every relationship with a loved one, friend, or even just someone you come in contact with, Ruiz’ book explains you can only control 50 percent of the relationship and how you choose to handle the situation. The only way something can get to you is if you believe it to be true. If not, you can just say to yourself, “It’s that person’s issue, not mine, and I am going to choose not to engage in it…NEXT!”
I want to start the conversation to bring awareness that innocuous questions are sometimes hurtful and that everyone’s path is different. Whatever journey and timetable we have are our own–without questions and without judgment.
I have been single for most of my adult life. I have had relationships here and there but never anything super serious and never anything close to engagement. For years, I was set up with men but people would always whisper (sometimes behind my back but often to my face), “What is wrong with you? Why aren’t you with anyone? You would be such a good mother.” These questions used to upset me. Why must there be something wrong with me, because I haven’t met someone I want to spend the rest of my life with? I don’t think people realized that when they asked things like, “Don’t your parents want grandchildren?” how extremely painful that was.
Being single and in your 40’s sparks questions. I had come to a place where I was happy with what I had accomplished and the place I was at in my life. I was confident and whether I met someone or not, I would be fine.
I met the love of my life online when I was 41 years old. A dating app called “The League” connected me with a smart, kind, handsome, trustworthy man who lives in Boston. Two years later, we are engaged. Now the questions have turned. When are you getting married? When is the date? What are you doing and when? The answer is, honestly, I have no idea.
We got engaged Memorial Day weekend and haven’t spoken about a wedding date yet. I was never the little girl who dreamed of her wedding dress like a big ball gown walking down the aisle. Maybe I will be that girl, or maybe I’ll be barefoot on the beach with only our families. We have no idea. All I know is, I am happy where I am and content at giving the answer, “I don’t know.” I have come to realize something very important. IT IS NEVER ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE ASK OR DO; IT IS HOW YOU REACT. Your reaction will decide if you feel hurt or not.
I went through a period of time when I did think something was wrong with me. All of the friends that I graduated with from the University of Michigan got married shortly after college, had kids, and started their next chapter. I took a different path. I started working seven days a week, trying to build a business, and put my personal life on the back-burner.
As we get older, things get more complicated. For example, my future husband has three children from a prior marriage; consequently, more effort goes into taking next steps. This is just part of the program. So the next time someone asks me, “When is the date?” I will tell them I don’t have an answer right now, and I’m okay with it. I will find my own answers in my own time.