Finding new love when you thought it was all over for you.

Sylvia Clare

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Just when you thought it was all over, you are past your sell by date or there is no one left who is worth being with, stop and think again. It might be just a new beginning, a new dawn on the rest of your life.

I was in my early forties, with a few relationships and one marriage that had not worked out for myself before. I’d also had several encounters of the shorter kind that had been a mixture of not so good and unhappy ones, but that had not had the legs to go anywhere. I realised I had issues to be resolved in myself so did a lot of inner work through reading self help and spiritual psychology books copiously, meditating as much as I could, and working with a couple of wonderful therapists. I hadn't fixed it all but I had come a long way from my early life. I started to enjoy being me.

I had also reached a place where I was so fed up with the whole relationship scene that I’d had enough and truly thought being single was the only way I could remain stable and sane in my own life. After all I had started to travel globally when on my own, taken up scuba diving ( but didn't continue it), started writing and got my first publishing contract when single. It seemed that life only happened for me when I had no one except myself and my sons to think about, when I was not being distracted by looking out for someone else and allowing my energy to be syphoned off by them.

So I thought or rather willed it to be, largely defensive too of course, not wanting to be hurt but also feeling that I could manage my life and make my mistakes without anybody else's help.

But my heart yearned for heart connection, the same heart connection it had been yearning for since childhood. I have written about this elsewhere but basically a series of dreams in teen years had given me glimpses of the love that I was waiting for and although my mind had consciously forgotten all about that in the intervening decades, my heart had not.

So I thought about what I would settle for as a basic minimum. I started with a list of what I definitely wanted based on what I didn’t want. I wanted tall, slim and preferably dark but not necessary. That is just my preference for attractiveness, not a personal quality, so it ended up being further down the list, but it was a starting point.

Then I realised I wanted someone who would love me with all their heart, so I could love them with all my heart too. Someone for whom I would be a complete priority so they could be mine. I realised I was yearning for the total surrender love that is the deepest connection you can have. I wanted to give it as much as I wanted to receive it. I wanted to love and feel safe to love, which would be the first time in my life that this experience could happen.

Then I wanted someone who was also very much his own person. Not a doormat but someone I could respect and feel equal to, not begin to see through and feel let down by. Someone who was open to personal growth and spiritual awakening, someone who was open to changing and being their own best but also being constantly prepared to work on furthering that.

I wanted someone who was into the same things as I was so that we could enjoy activities, but also someone who could do his own thing. Mostly the arts and travel were, and still are, my main interests. My social life revolved around these areas most of the time and had done since adolescence. Political stance also mattered — I have had strong political interests for most of my life too, more to do with justice, social equality and the environment.

I wanted someone who really liked sex but from a mutual and exploratory way. Not someone who played games or showed their prowess off but someone tender, gentle and passionate, patient and generous, who also liked to receive.

I especially wanted someone who was very musically orientated. I love music in many forms, having a wide ranging and eclectic taste, and love to also explore new music often. I feel passion through music, spiritual connections, inspirations. I love the music of life as much as I love music in my life. I was taught to play classical piano and still can but am unable to get past the rigidity with which I was taught. I can still with some practice play tolerably well, but I cannot break free and that frustrates me massively. So music is important to me. If you can’t play it yourself, you can at least enjoy the skills and talents of those who can.

I definitely wanted someone who would accept my sons and possibly have a child or two also. I like children and young people generally. I suppose I wanted to create a happy amalgamated family with someone where we could all come and go, because of course all the children would have other parents so not be ‘our family’ in any possessive way but to function as a family whilst together.

I wanted to be myself most of all and not have someone who would start wanting to control me or undermine me whenever possible.

What do you think of my shopping list?

Long isnt it, full of quite high expectations.

Did I deserve all this?

Was I making it impossible for myself?

Well no as it turned out.

I had thought I had written the list to ensure I would remain single and safe.

But I went with some friends to a folk festival, and they brought other friends too. And I met someone who was just plain different. A friend of a friend.

The first year we barely talked, both being somewhat shy, but right at the end we were chatting as we took down tents etc, and he said something about running and not being angry any more.

My antennae went into overdrive. What a great chat up line, not what you would expect but exactly what this woman needed to hear - no angry males to contend with, which meant he also looked at himself then.

I as casually as possible invited him and his daughter up to London for a trip and gave him my card. He took it and said he would be in touch.

I waited

Another week and I still waited

Nothing happened.

I was sure I had felt some connection when he had said those words — a flicker of recognition between us both. But for a whole year I heard nothing and the friend who inadvertently introduced us did nothing to advance things either.

I went back into ‘I am not good enough’ thinking and gave up again. But the following year the same group of friends were going to the same festival so I thought I would also go again. I would be with friends and could be nonchalant about being there so would not be admitting anything to anyone, not even to myself really, at the time.

He came too.

After greeting all my usual crowd I said hi to him too. Then we talked for the whole rest of that day. We read a bit like everyone else, and chatted around the group too but were more or less focussed on each other as casually as possible.

That was the beginning.

That was how my dream marriage started, one that I thought I was never going to attain, that I was not worth that much happiness, did not deserve happiness at all really.

We hit twenty four years together and twenty one years of marriage this year. We are celebrating our relationship coming of age, finally being a grown up as we slowly age together — or mature more fully as I prefer to think of it. But we are still learning more about ourselves and each other all the time, still grwing and exploring and meditating and reading, knowing it is worht while becasue after all it brought us both our hearts desire already

But you have to remain open to that possibility and not write yourself off — let it come to you when the circumstances are just in the right place. I wish with all my heart I had met my beloved David before we actually did, and he the same. Yet we both know that it might not have worked for us so well if we had and we might have lost each other through ignorance, whereas now we know exactly the value of what we have together, and for each of us it is deeply precious.

So all I am saying is that it is easy to think 'that's it', or 'its over for you', but you have to allow that possibility of finding a deeper love in your story — I guess I want happy endings for everybody lol.

And he is a brilliant singer songwriter guitarist and artist too.

I showed him my list some six months after we got together. I found it again in a little notebook in a bedside drawer. I had truly forgotten about it in the interim, it had just been a casual exercise in wishful thinking. I gave it to him to read. He said 'that is an exact description of me'. Then I said look at the date.

It was six months at least before we had actually met the first time.

Our joke is that he was a mail order husband from the psychic internet, but then he was wasn’t he. So when it seems like only clouds in your sky, look again and you might see the sun glimmering behind them still.

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I write about my lived experiences of relationships, mindfulness, spiritual experiences and aging as a feminist, woman and someone with mental health issues. Happiness in life matters more than anything but how we find happiness is often one of our greatest struggles in life. I have degrees in psychology and prefer to base my writing in verifiable data whenever possible.

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