What I Know Now
You're heartbroken because the man you loved, built a home with and pinned your hopes and dreams to, has told you that he doesn't have enough passion for you to marry you. You're devastated and wondering what is wrong with you that he doesn't love you enough to marry you.
It'll take a while, but one day you'll realize that the lack was never in you. It was in him. It doesn't make him a bad person - just not the right man for you.
You'll take that hurt, anger and pain and turn it around to focus your energies on yourself. Without much conscious thought you challenge yourself to do new things, speak up, and be noticed. You'll compete in your first triathlon, you'll start your lifelong love affair with travel, you'll climb that corporate ladder and you'll question your place in society. You decide that you won't be defined by any man, you'll be doing the defining.
It's a wonderful few years you'll have of success on your own terms. You're confident and happy. You'll attract wonderful people, some of whom you'll have great romances with, some of whom will become the family of your heart. You know who you are, where you want to go, and how you want to lead your life. I wish you would learn to hold onto that sense of self because when you need it most it'll be gone and you'll struggle to find yourself again.
You'll be knocked down by a series of events of which you have no control - the tech bubble collapses and you'll lose your job, you'll suffer a series of injuries which lay you up a number of times, you'll be betrayed by family, and most devastatingly, your father - your rock - will be diagnosed with lung cancer. It doesn't happen all at once, but each event occurs in such succession that you are never able to quite get back on your feet. At the end, you're left just reacting to the next crisis.
One day, you'll wake up at 36 and realize that the last 4 years have come and gone and you're a different person. You'll realize that you'd most recently spent an entire year just...existing. You'll ask yourself, "What will make me happy?" and you won't know. You'll realize you're a stranger to yourself. You mourn the loss of four prime years of your life. Years where you could have been pursuing success, falling in love and building a family. It will scare you to think that perhaps you won't ever be happy again.
But, once you're done panicking about the loss of time, you'll reflect on the periods you were most happy and recall the year you turned 30. Taking a page out of that book, you'll set goals for yourself. You're not sure if they're the right goals, but you have to start somewhere. You decide to run a marathon, buy a house, re-engage in your job, and open yourself up to romance. You succeed for the most part and by the end of your 36th year, you regain your sense of self. You also remember how to have fun again.
One evening, early in 2007, you'll go out to dinner with a dozen women around your age. These women are attractive, interesting, funny, and successful. Though only one of them are married, the subject of men doesn't even come up. The discussion centers around happiness, career, fulfillment, and current events. There is wonderful food, diverse conversation, and lots of laughter.
You won't really think about the significance of that evening until a bit later. You'll soon realize that you've come to a place where you've defined your own happiness. You've elected to surround yourself with people who reflect that choice and you revel in the knowledge of knowing who you are.
It's been a long dark period but you've come back into the light. Congratulations.
With much love,