I find myself surrounded by people who are either going through a break-up or going through a divorce. Maybe it's a heightened awareness, as I have just gone through my own break-up.
Same thing happened when I first became pregnant with my son. I suddenly found myself surrounded by crying babies and out-of-control toddlers. I remember walking through the bookstore in search of information about being pregnant, and everywhere I looked, I found strollers, expectant parents and screaming children.
We go through times in our lives when we are going to weddings every weekend, then baby showers, graduations, funerals. Guess it's my season of the break-up.
As my son has witnessed a couple break-ups since I divorced his dad, he has declared that he will never date, never have a girlfriend, never get married. Because he's only 13, I'm not fighting this too much. If he's not thinking of girlfriends, then he's not thinking about sex, which I'm totally cool with.
But it does present a challenge. He doesn't want to see me date again because he doesn't want to see me hurt again. He sees relationships as something that end painfully.
"Why would you put yourself through that again?" he asks.
I point out all the people we know who are in long-term relationships and happy. And happy. That's the key.
"Because I believe in love," I tell him. And I explain that relationships take time and hard work, and they are beautiful when they are right.
I remind him that on the other side of sadness is joy, and I will be OK. I already am OK; I'm more than OK, in fact. And I will continue to be OK whether I meet someone or not, though I hold out hope that I find that lifelong fling.
He and I have a tradition of watching "The Bachelor" series on Monday nights. Bear with me. The show is NOT a good example of solid relationships, but I find it to be a good way to stimulate conversations about how to be and how not to be when one is wooing members of the opposite sex.
(Plus those reality TV show people are free fodder for scrutiny.)
One recent episode sparked a conversation about sex, which makes my son's skin crawl. I'm not allowed to utter the word in his presence. I said something - a general remark - about spending the night with a guy - no one in particular, just a general remark about sleeping with someone you care about.
"Mom, you shouldn't be doing that! You're FORTY," he said with serious disgust.
I wanted to tell him that 40 is when it gets good, but I didn't want to traumatize him further. Found my censorship button; pushed it.
Anyway ... I look for ways to encourage my son not to seal off his heart ... when he's much older, of course ... and be open to heartbreak. After all, heartbreak lasts as long as you choose to make it last. You get something out of every person who comes and goes from your life. What I got for my most recent experience is a respect for people who suffer from addiction. Lesson Two: I know addiction is not something I want in my world. Lesson Three: I have become a more compassionate person - or, I have become aware of my lack of compassion and I'm working to be consistently more compassionate.
I like who I am on the other side of heartbreak. And now I'm over this heartbreak. Lived through it, learned from it, moving along.