In my life, I’ve had two life coaches. If you haven’t invested into a life coach, it’s time for you to get out from under your rock. A life coach is someone who guides you through life or career change, and I’ve used them for both.
I connected with my first life coach because Bruce and I were at the pivotal point in our relationship of shit or get off the pot. We were four months in and he was drained of trying to split his time between the weeks he got to spend with his kids and the time we got to spend together. His vision was to put all of us under one roof. I knew if I wanted our relationship to keep progressing, moving in together was inevitable, but I wasn’t ready! Up to this point in my life, I had a list of failed relationships. Although I longed to share life’s experiences with someone, I had settled for a life of third-wheeling it. I could enjoy a quiet evening at home to wallow in my own self-pity without having to share a bowl of popcorn. (I still struggle with sharing popcorn).
I made every excuse in the book: I didn’t want to move too fast for the kids’ sake, I had a house to consider, and I even told him that it was one-sided so “he could have his cake and eat it too”.
We broke up.
The break-up didn’t last long though. Two weeks later Bruce sent me a text and asked if we could talk. Thank goodness we don’t share the same level of stubbornness! I met him in a park, safe from emotional outbursts, and listened to what he had to say. He reaffirmed his love for me and expressed how important I was to him. It was a reminder of how much I loved him, and I knew at that point the only way to salvage this relationship was to blend our lives together. So we did.
And here is where it actually begins…
When you get used to living on your own the silence becomes comfortable, you don’t have to clean up after anyone else, and your day is rarely interrupted. I had lived on my own for five years, so my routine was well-established. Now, here I was living in a house with three kids, a dog and two cats. What the fuck did I get myself into?! I would get home from a ten-hour shift from work and all I wanted to do was relish in the silence with a glass of wine…or two. But what I actually had to do was talk to people. I had to engage in conversation, “how was your day” and “do you have any homework today?” My insides were screaming and it was starting to negatively affect our family. I began to lash out at Bruce and withdraw from family time.
It was then I reached out to a coach who kept popping up on my Facebook feed. Meant to be? Short of life reaching out and slapping me in the face, it seemed so.
Looking back at our first meeting makes me laugh now. We met at Starbucks where I told my coach I had pride in knowing exactly who I was and I’ve always been sure of what I wanted. She was too professional to call me on my bullshit. I explained the challenges of living as a family and not having time for myself. Secretly I was hoping she would agree with my woes and reassure me what I was feeling was okay. But that isn’t what life coaches do. They have this funny way of holding you accountable without pointing a finger.
I invested three months into the coaching sessions. I was given homework to write down pros and cons, keep a journal for emotions and to sit Bruce down and discuss my fears. Communicate with Bruce? What kind of sorcery was this? But to my surprise, it worked! With my coach’s guidance, Bruce and I
worked out a schedule that would give me time to unwind yet still provide us with family time in the evening. We also dedicated time every night to just talk. How simple, yet effective!
Our relationship was on a high! I thought about doing the Tom Cruise couch jump and scream to the world how great life was! We finally found a balance in blending our lives together and I was SO happy. We were happy!
Just when I felt content with where we were, Bruce spoke the offensive word “marriage.” Fuck.
What I haven’t divulged to you is I too have a failed marriage. The irresponsibility of the whole thing is shameful, and the lives it impacted is heartbreaking.
But here goes nothing…
I was 18 and going through a rebellion stage. After graduation, my parents told me to either go to college or pay rent. So in my teenage “fuck you” moment I went to college and moved out. I showed them! Or rather, they taught me! I ended up dropping out of college because I needed a full-time job to pay for my rent and keep up with my social life. There was no way I was going crawl back to my parents for forgiveness. I was dedicated to showing them I was capable of taking care of myself [arm flex*].
During this awkward stage of trying to find my way in life, I met this guy who was fun-loving, funny, adventurous and carefree! I not only wanted that in my life, but I NEEDED that in my life! So, I jumped on the back of his badass black victory motorcycle and off we went. What I soon discovered was, although it felt like he was liberating me with this new exciting life, I was actually saving him from a recent separation.
This facade that someone had saved me soon caught up to me.
As you know, when you commit to a relationship you are also committing to the children. When you introduce your significant other to your family, you are committing them in a way too. At the time I was blind of the impact. Our life of having adventures, the outdoors and fun-filled weekends were coming to an end. The more I worked to support the family, the less he worked. The more time I spent with the children, the less he spent at home. I forgot to take care of myself, and when our lives became incredibly miserable, I decided the best option was divorce.
In that decision were repercussions I didn’t consider. Not only were my parents disappointed, but the children, who had witnessed their parent’s divorce, were now witnessing another.. I didn’t see this through.
I remember when I moved out and got myself a basement suite. The emptiness of not having anyone to cook for lingered each time I went into the kitchen. What once was a frustrating time of having to pick up after the kids made me long to find a single crayon. I was broken and so alone.
I ended up burying myself in work making leaps and bounds in my career. Six months later, I bought my own home. Although I have never forgiven myself for how my decision impacted those children, I found a way to survive. Unfortunately, that came at the cost of not dealing with my emotions at the time.
Now here I am, in a committed, healthy relationship with the man of my dreams yet my past keeps sneaking up on me. The very thought of marriage takes me back to a time of feeling suffocated from fear! I convinced myself that if I don’t get married our relationship will have a greater chance of
overcoming life’s hurdles. Divorce rates are at an all-time high, and fewer people are getting married. I don’t want another divorce under my belt, and more so, I have children in my life again who I don’t want to see hurt.
Yet, even with the uncertainty of my fears, there are a few things I am not afraid to admit. I want Bruce to feel fulfilled in our relationship. I want to see the pride in his eyes as his kids grow into young adults. Finally, I want to share in the joy of being a grandparent with Bruce someday.
So, is there a chapter in our lives where we exchange vows? Only time will tell…
-Shauna Allan is the founder of Modern Match Lingerie Inc. and The Bra Bra Sisterhood – armed with a cup of java and her favourite pieces of lingerie, she hosts a safe space where women can simply just be women! Join the community here