It's A New Dawn, A New Day, And I'm feeling good. 

Words to Nina Simone's Feeling Good float through my head this morning; yesterday's moment of grief and tears a reminder that I am no longer the woman I was and my man is not my ex.

I told you a few weeks ago that had come to terms with my infertility, that I had decided I didn't want to have a child. Then I met Rio.

5 weeks in, I realized something. Just because I didn't want a child with my ex doesn't mean I don't want a child period.

That shocked me. Floored me, actually. I thought it was settled between me and the Universe. Infertility. No child. I was okay with that. Apparently I'm not. And that brought up a whole host of issues for me – baggage I thought I'd settled.

So when my period started yesterday – 2 weeks early – I found myself crying. Blaming myself. Apologizing. Feeling like I had let my man down. I was back in ‘it's my fault mode.' Again.

Then it dawned on me. He didn't blame me. Didn't criticize. Didn't feel like I had let him down. That was all me. This man – water to my earth, fire to my air – this man is not my ex. There is no expectation. There is no white picket fence dream. There just is. And it is beauty-full.

His response to my news that I started my period and therefore wasn't pregnant? ‘More love making. Yeah!'

I'm tears and sorrow and focused on a missed opportunity and he's happy we get to keep trying. Funny how perspective changes everything…

My second aha moment came today. I am in New Jersey at Stacey Martino's Relationship Breakthrough Retreat. When I signed up for the retreat in early May, I was ‘in transition' (aka divorced and not dating anyone). I hoped I would get as much out of the retreat as I was getting out of Stacey's 8-week on-line relationship transformation program.

This morning we were talking about the four levels of love and how most of us operate from level 2 – the equal-partnership-with-a-scorecard-so-you-can-make-sure-you're-not-getting-shortchanged level. That certainly described my marriage and that of my parents. I didn't know there was another option. But through Stacey's courses, I learned another level was possible: level 3.

Level 3 love is ‘all in' kind of love. You show up. 100%. No judgement. No measuring. No scorecard. It's the risky, vulnerable, raw kind of love. The kind where you could get hurt. A lot. But it's also the kind that you dream of; the kind you read about in romance novels. The kind I never thought was possible. I was too practical to believe in that kind of love. I had  never been with a man that went all in. I certainly had never gone all in myself.

I'm not sure when it happened, or why the Universe decided to finally show me what I'd been missing all these years, but not long after Rio and I started dating, he told me he was all in. I wasn't entirely sure what that meant, but it sounded good. So sign me up!

It turns out that Rio's ‘all in' is the same as Level 3 love. He loves me. All of me. Unconditionally. Fully. Completely. It's beauty-full, and a little scary. I've never felt quite so loved, cherished, vulnerable.

So I went all in too. Or so I thought.

But what I realized today was that I wasn't all in – more like 80%. Enough to feel ‘all in' compare to how I felt in my marriage, where I was at best 50% in, but not 100%. Because that would be too much, too scary. I still had to protect my heart, you see.

Then I figured out why I was hesitant to go all in. I was still convinced at some level that the failure of my marriage was my fault. Between the infertility and me not being ‘all in,' I had convinced myself that I wasn't good enough. I didn't deserve the ‘all in' kind of love – even when it was offered with no strings attached. Self-blame is quite destructive.

Tonight I made a decision to leave my baggage here. Or better yet to kick it back where it came from. These things that are preventing me from going all in – the notion that I'm not good enough or somehow flawed and don't deserve it, the self-blame – those are old stories.  Myths, if you will, that don't serve me. But if I've learned anything over the past year and a half it's that the beauty of stories is that you can rewrite them – as many times as you want.

My story of intimate relationships, of what love is really like, is a story that I have decided to rewrite. My new story goes something like this…

In the past, I allowed myself to get in my own way. I shamed and blamed myself into thinking I didn't deserve happiness in romantic relationships because I was flawed. Today I know that I am perfect, whole, and beauty-full as I am and that I deserve ‘all in' kind of love. I deserve to start a family at age 40 with a man who loves me 100% unconditionally and accepts me completely for who I am. And he deserves the same from me.

Today I leave my baggage at the door.

Baby, get ready; I'm going all in!



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