I met my husband at a "Cuban Havana" party on a Friday night in Boston back in 2001. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy (my future husband) bee-lining towards me. He looked like a mash up of Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap, Mitt Romney and Mr. Big from Sex in the City. "Big" (as my girlfriends called him and sometimes still do) swooped in from behind and nuzzled his nose in my neck, then got right in my grill with blinkie love eyes. I thought he was pretty intense, but I love engaging with randoms so I indulged. He was all smiles and actually really nice. He had what I call "quiet confidence", which I immediately tested:
Big: Hi, I'm Big.
Me: Hi, I'm Vanessa.
Me: How old are you?
Big: 41. How old are you?
Me: 25. You married?
Me: How many?
Me: Girl or boy?
Me: How old?
Me: Hm. Okay, my ride's here!
(The fact that these are the very challenges that hovered over much of our relationship is not lost on me. But more on that later.) Before I dashed, Big asked me for my business card, which I politely gave him.
He called my office at 9am Monday and told me he couldn't wait for the weekend to end so he could ring me at work first thing Monday. (Did I mention he was a little intense?) I thought he was sweet. He asked me for dinner and I reluctantly went on the date, figuring I'd see him just the once and go back to being happily single. Surprisingly not the case.
Thank goodness for Big's tenacity. Because of it I was able to see that he's a terrific guy. Relaxed, smart, positive, supportive, a bit of a know-it-all, but generally a goodie. As his buddies say, he was born with a horse shoe up his ass. Things just go his way. I think it's b/c that's exactly what he expects. You know that book The Secret? Well, this guy innately has a deep understanding of the Law of Attraction. An unrelenting optimist. A team player with a can-do attitude. A big picture guy with an endless supply of patience. Just the person I needed in my life.
Eventually I met his family. First his adorabibble daughter, then his adorable (very preggie) ex-wife and her adorable hubby and several months later his numerous intimidating siblings and parents. I was 25. This was a lot for me. But everyone was nice and my expectations in the relationship were... well, temporary.
That is until they were permanent.
Big popped the question during a trip to Ireland and the next thing I knew I was setting myself up to be an older man's second wife. (HUH????? My poor Mother.) I occasionally heard mutterings from various people like "trophy wife" and "child bride", which were a little horrific. Okay, maybe a lot horrific. Okay, yes, soul-crushing and humiliating and tantrum-inducing and embarrassing and irritating and... need I go on? It's not fun to be judged and belittled. I felt like every time we went out people were sizing us up or trying to figure out how we were all connected. My least favorite question was, "Oh, are you the nanny?" Mmmmm... that would be NO.
In my insecurity and immaturity (Disclaimer: I was immature in an inexperienced way, not in an irresponsible way; I simply had not the emotional GPS to navigate this particular course in life.), I started freaking out. Younger woman, second wife, step-mother... this was not the way I'd envisioned my life.
Our engagement was a real struggle for me. We weren't in a casual, easy relationship anymore. This was serious now, with serious boundary issues and serious jealousy. I wouldn't be the first woman he'd see walk down the aisle in white. We wouldn't enjoy his first honeymoon. We wouldn't buy a starter home together. I wouldn't give him his first baby. We wouldn't share in the naivety of being parents for the first time. Oh, and I'd have to spend the next decade being called Big's ex's name by accident. It's tough to be #2.
Some relationships are doomed to failure, specifically one between a first wife and a second wife. It's pretty much universally accepted that there's something totally creepy about the first wife and the new wife being chums. Or so one would think. But amazingly, #1 and I got along great, at least before the engagement. When the reality of my permanency set in, so did the conflict.
As much as I wanted everything to be smooth and above-bar, I couldn't get past the suckage of my "secondary" situation. The Number Two Blues I called them. I was just emotionally under-equipped to deal. #1 and I underwent a few years of awkward moments, hurt feelings, disagreements and pissing on each others' feet in attempt to stake claim on our respective territories. I think we wanted to like each other. But it's so hard to find peace in a divided family. How do you share something so sacred? Start a new family when one already exists? I can't speak for #1, but, bottom line for me, I felt like an outsider walking into my own marriage and it tore me up.
Over time, the push and pull between #1 and I neutralized and we were able to bear each others' company again. The peace was a result of efforts on both parts, hers and mine. I may be wrong, but from my perspective it seemed that the two of us were exercising some demons - separately together - and the result was an unspoken truce. Always growing, always evolving. (Also, I think my having a bunch of babies helped. Kids were my ultimate distraction from nagging insecurities.) Eventually, we found a way to share life comfortably in this modern family. Eventually, we were able to gently talk about the bitterness we each felt. Eventually, through laughter, honesty, and maybe a few tears, we found a safe place to come together and be friends. Yep. Friends. Friends with the potential to be dear friends.
When I asked #1 if it'd be okay to share our story on my blog, she said she thought it'd be valuable to share how a challenging relationship can function on a high level. She said, "I think we so often act / act out as we think others expect us to - falling into typical stereotypes. Any opportunity to break that cycle should be shared."
So a couple of months ago #1 and I were emailing back and forth and I'm like, "One of these days I want to tell you about a past life regression that I had that involved you." About 30 seconds later my phone rang. ;-) Here's what happened....
I went to Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY last July for a weekend workshop with Dr. Brian Weiss. He's an Ivy League educated, world renowned psychotherapist who specializes in past life hypnotherapy. He's been on Oprah a bunch of times and wrote a slew of really inspiring books about past life regression. He's the balls. Love him.
During each of his workshop lectures, Dr. Weiss guided the group through a hypnotic regression. During one of the regressions #1 popped into my head. My immediate reaction was Oh, I don't want to deal with this old drama now, I'm over this. But Dr. Weiss said, "Take note of anyone you see. Acknowledge them. They're there for a reason." So that's what I did. It felt like #1's higher self wanted to connect with mine. I felt less separation between us. I let the image ride out and was totally overwhelmed by what I discovered.
Dr. Weiss encouraged us to visualize ourselves wrapped in beautiful light. I found myself in a bubble of sorts. The bubble was a womb and I was a fetus. And I wasn't alone. #1 was wrapped up with me. Twins! We were these tiny little human beings curled together in our mother's womb and we were surrounded by beautiful, loving light. Dr. Weiss guided us to another place in that life and I found the two of us playing together outside. We both had long brown hair tied back with ribbons and we were holding hands. I was consumed by love - by her love. It was amazing. It was healing.
I had other regressions that weekend which taught me other things, but this particular one induced a radical shift in the way I thought of my relationship with #1. We have a relationship that is our own, apart from husbands and children. It is possible that our connection spans lifetimes. I am here on earth for her as much as I am here for anyone. We are tethered together in the same way that I am tied to Big, to my BFF, to my sisters and my parents.
This regression helped me to diminish the challenging circumstance of our knowing each other in the here and now and see her has part of my eternal soul family. We're just playing our roles this time around. Regardless of what we feel for each other at any given moment on Earth, at a soul level there is nothing but absolute pure and beautiful love. And if that's the way our perfect souls feel about each other, then why should we waste our time on Earth futzing with all these other emotions? Why not just skip to the good stuff?
I shared a quote from Dr. Weiss' book Only Love Is Real yesterday: "Measure time, if you must, in lessons learned, not minutes or hours or years. You can cure yourself in five minutes if you come to the proper understanding. Or in fifty years. It is all the same thing." I could've spent fifty years singing The Number Two Blues. Fortunately for me, a weekend trip to Rhinebeck, New York provided me an opportunity to heal in five minutes. The lesson is all the same. But if you are open to healing on a higher level, you can sure cut out a lot of bullshit.
Through life's challenges, we are able to truly and deeply understand its goodness - and be grateful for it. Thank you for one of the biggest lessons of my lifetime, #1. ;-) xoxoxoxox
Peace, love, gratitude,